It seems that we’ve all settled back into our lives in the USA, and from the exchanges we’ve all shared online, the lives of our collaborators in India have also returned to normal. This was a particularly interesting experience for me as a teacher. It was the first time I’ve been involved in a project that co-mingled students from different institutions working across different disciplines. I use the term interesting because I’ve learned a lot. I’ve learned that cultural differences can act as a glue that holds together a diverse team. I’ve learned that leadership capabilities of each individual, and the collective efforts of teams of students can accomplish much. I’ve witnessed first-hand the benefits of a generative approach that relies upon synchronicity to produce an outcome that is much larger than the expected sum of the parts. Multi-generational engagement was probably an overlooked, but significant contributor to the success of this trip. In the long run, I’ll be anxious to observe what’s ‘different’ in the lives of the participants. Who takes this opportunity to grow personally and professionally to leverage this experience into new opportunities. I’ve already seen relationship changes, and directions change for future careers. And its always exciting to be a small part of that personal and professional growth a teacher witnesses in their students. I remain grateful to Sarah for her partnership in all of these experiments, to S&T for financial and professional support, and to Nirmal and his family (both personal and extended within ISTAR and India). Of course our collaborators at Hinduja Hospital were critical as well as the support we received from all of our hosts in India. Thank you all for sharing in this experience.
Nursing Division of P.D. Hinduja National hospital and MRC collaborated with the Missouri University of Science and technology Rolla, Missouri USA, for enhancement of the research experience & interdisciplinary learning. Ms. Nidhi Ranpuriya Executive and Ms. Bhavna Nayak Management Trainee, nursing division participated in the international collaboration program at Anand Gujarat from 29.12.2012 to 12.01.2013. The team of 15 people (2 Nursing administrative personnel from P.D.Hinduja National Hospital and MRC, Mumbai, 6 Students from Missouri S&T University Rolla, Missouri USA, 7 students from ISTAR College, Anand Gujarat) under the guidance of Dr. Daniel Oerther and Mrs. Sarah Oerther.
Highlights of the program:
- To assess few aspects of the health & wellness in the rural area of the Gujarat state, India such as sustainable agriculture, drinking water status, nutritional status in the school going children, Maternal surveys.
- Visit to the AMUL (the taste of INDIA) dairy plant at Anand.
- Visit of the agricultural team to Anand Agriculture University.
- Visit to Akshardham Temple and Sabarmati / Gandhi Ashram at Ahmadabad.
Summary: It was an enriching experience with the mixed outputs of personal and professional growth, work pattern difference and learning.
- We were able to cordially work with different disciplines (Nursing administration, Environmental Engineers, Civil Engineers, Environmental science) and were able analyze the co-relation between different disciplines to achieve common goals.
- It helped us to grow for the co-ordination of the team, so that it increases the output of the work. It helped us to learn how to collaborate the nursing aspects with the different disciplines with the areas of health and wellness of the community.
- Exposed to different cultures (USA and Gujarat), it was an exchange of the ideas & lifestyle of the different students.
- Were able to ease the adaptation of USA students towards the Indian scenarios.
- The duration of the research can be increased as it will give the opportunity to increase the sample size as well as the time for interventions.
- Pre – communication of the research can be in more details so the Indian counter parts can participate in the planning phase (as the scenario is different from country to country)
- The ground work suggested to be done when an area is selected for research, as to co-relate the work of the team and existing Indian government’s activities. (so that the interventions planned can be more focused on the area which is not being looked after by any of the regulatory bodies)
- Co-relation of previous research & the future plans
We would like to extend our sincere thanks to Mrs. Phalakshi Manjrekar (Director Nursing) P.D. Hinduja Hospital for giving us the opportunity to be a part of this research program. Our Sincere Thanks to Missouri University of Science and Technology for giving us the opportunity to collaborate in the program in every way possible, Dr. Daniel Oerther and Mrs. Sarah Oerther for guiding us throughout the program. We acknowledge the help and support of the team members from Missouri S and T University and ISTAR College Sardar Patel University, Anand Gujarat.
Life turns so unusual when one gets attached with people & memories. But still the life goes on. I would like to start my blog entry with the very famous and touching lines…
” The woods are lonely dark and deep, but I have promises to keep,
and miles to go before I sleep and miles to go before I sleep…..”
I miss you all…..
I am sick of people sitting in chairs stating their problems, they just don’t stand up for solving it. Many don’t stand up because they don’t care and they don’t want to but some don’t stand up because they are poor and helpless. Personally I got a chance to help those poor & helpless people by working in this project. I worked in the water monitoring team and I feel so proud of solving their water sanitation problems. At the end of the day I feel so grown up by my work in this project everyday. I believe there is no end, there is no beginning, there is only the infinite passion of life and I am damn passionate about my life and my work. Personally I have grown and have got a chance for fulfilling one of my dream of helping people around me in securing their basic needs. It is said that, “If you don’t stand for something, you’ll fall for anything.” At the professional level I found Prof. Dr. Daniel Oerther as one of my role model. He is the person standing for poor, he is utilizing his professional skills in securing the basic need of poor people. It is the best lesson to learn that how ones profession can change and enhance others life. Other than that I love the way he deals with people personally as well as professionally. The other thing I learned from Mr. Dan and his students was the way of their appreciation to everyone. When different disciplines are brought together the working scenario becomes wide and clear without any obstacles. Many new technical things I have learned while working with the Engineers and Nurses. The fusion of Engineers, Scientists & Nurses was awesome. We may have different religions, different languages, different colored skin, but we all belong to one human race, though our culture were not the same but we get attached to one another like we knew each other since a long time. Cultural differences can not separate us from each other, but rather cultural diversity brings a collective strength that can benefit all of humanity. The love of one’s country is a splendid thing. But why should love stop at the border? Though we were having different cultures we worked with each other and learned lots of new thing from one another. The best thing I learned and loved from both culture (Indian & American) is the way of accepting each other and helping each other. If someone asks me about my best experience in the project, than my answer will be ALL MY TIME I SPENT WITH THE WHOLE PROJECT TEAM IS MY BEST TIME. The practice and performance of the WOBBLE dance, funny jokes by Alex & Lee (miss a lot), the dinner and lunches……..
Thanks to Mr. Nirmal Kumar (Head of the Department, Environmental Science & Technology, ISTAR) for giving me a chance to work in this project. Thanks to Mr. Dan for his advice and motivations at each stage of the project. Thanks and love to my International Family. You all were just awesome……
1. How did you grow personally?
2. How did you grow professionally?
3. What did you learn from working with other disciplines?
4. What did you learn from working with other cultures?
5. What was your best experience?
I would say my very first visit to the village where we knew absolutely nothing about what we were going to do, yet we accomplished over half of our testing. It took a great deal of teamwork and patience from everyone involved and set a good pace for the rest of the time.
India was AMAZING! I personally learned so much on this trip, but one of the main things I learned about myself is traveling abroad is in my blood! I loved traveling to India, meeting new people, expanding my friend list of Facebook and learning a new language (I beat you, Lee) . I have made so many new friendships and I thank God for these friendships he has created!
I feel that through the research and working in a team atmosphere (with me being the only American in the group) helped me grow as a professional. Yes, I have worked in teams before, but not in a team of all Indians and me! At first, my team and I were on two different tracks with the research, especially me trying to understand fully what their goals were, but after taking the afternoon off and grabbing ice cream and brownies just to create team chemistry we were able to achieve a common goal! I know that after this semester I am excited to take these skills I learned, while in India, to my internship in Kansas City this summer. Sarah made a bet that I would be back to India within the year and I hope she’s right!
The biggest issue we faced as a group was how diverse our fields of study were. For instance, Bhavna is a Nurse, Kaushal and Megha are studying to become Environmental Scientists, while I am studying to become a Civil Engineer. Talk about a wide variety! Like I mentioned above we did all had different ideas on how we should focus in on our project. Even though we had all amazing ideas we had to narrow the list down and head in one direction. I learned that working with different majors and backgrounds takes patience’s and teamwork!
As far as my experience in India, here are some of my highlights from the trip:
- The Food – I already miss the Indian meals, especially Samosas!
- Transportation -Auto Rig Shaw races!
- New Friends internationally and locally. Whether it was late night candle time with S&T students or running to subway with the ISTAR students there was never a dull moment!
- “Crazy Love” by Francis Chan – Nothing gets better than God’s word and Chai Tea @ 7:30 in the morning.
- ISTAR Cultural show and teaching the ladies how to model and dance!
- Working with the children in local villages! So many smiles and great memories with all the kids, I miss them all.
Enjoy the pictures below!
Trying to sit down and write out everything I’ve learned, thought, or felt throughout this trip has been a challenge. There were so many experiences and lessons I’ve learned that it is hard to describe it concisely. I have to thank all my friends and family who gave up hours of their time to listen to me ramble on and on about everything we did and learned!
I loved this trip. Indian culture is so different from ours, and it was so much fun to talk to and learn from the Indian students. Their experiences are very unique, so it was interesting to hear their views and learn their culture. The most fun I think I had with them were all of the games we played while hanging out and trying to learn an Indian dance the night before our cultural program performance!
This trip wasn’t all fun and games though. With each new challenge presented while we were researching or interviewing farmers, I learned the value of being flexible and open to ideas as a team leader. The group went into the project with one idea in mind, but with new developments, the direction or focus of our research probably changed at least three or four times. It was a little frustrating, yes, but to my understanding, that is very typical of most research, and I learned to handle it pretty well (I hope so, at least!). While the end result was a little different than I had originally thought, it was still a great project and I learned a lot.
The language barrier while working with farmers also presented a challenge. It taught me a lot of patience and trust in the rest of my group as we worked to get surveys answered and questions conveyed correctly. Questions needed to be asked different ways to make sure everything was understood and nothing was accidentally left out. As there were several different backgrounds within the group (nursing, engineering, and science), is was great to see each of us present new ideas or questions that were unique to each of our fields. Having a well-rounded group helped me to learn more and I think helped to broaden the views that each of us brought individually.
India is an incredible country. We had delicious food, had the chance to tour some famous sites, and even squeezed in a great morning Bible study! There are so many experiences I never knew I was missing. The life lessons I experienced in these short three weeks cannot be replicated in a classroom, but are things one can only learn by going and doing. The freedom and responsibility we had for our own projects helped me mature as a student, and I learned things that will also translate into my professional career. It is astounding to me what I learned simply by being there, observing, and talking to students, farmers, and other professionals. Of course, all of this wouldn’t have been possible if it weren’t for S&T and its generous sponsors, the Oerthers, ISTAR for hosting us, and all of the Indian students. Thank you so much for everyone involved, directly or indirectly, for giving me the chance to be involved with such a great trip. I know I’ll continue to use the experiences I’ve learned here throughout the rest of my life.
This trip to India will easily be one of the best highlights of my undergraduate career. Describing all the events that transpired and the vastly different culture to my friends and family continually forces me to relive our experiences every single day since we have been back in the states. Having time to reflect on the trip has greatly helped me to appreciate how I have grown and matured following this truly life changing experience.
Working with students and faculty from a different culture has really taught me patience. At first (and still some at the end) the whole concept of “Indian time” was very frustrating for me. I have ALWAYS been a very punctual person, and waiting anywhere from 10 minutes to up to an hour and a half made me a little angry at times. Eventually, I came to realize that it wasn’t a big deal and it just gave us all more time to relax and get to know each other. Plus there wasn’t anything I could do about it…
Engineers and scientists tend to not approach problems in the same manner. While working with the Indian students I came to realize how true this fact really was. The first day in the field we all butted heads a little before finally settling down and getting a good start on the project. The Indian students’ perspective mixed with the American’s background helped us to accomplish the task differently and probably better than either group would have done on their own.
Unfortunately, before this trip I had never really had any experiences with other cultures. So being fully immersed in Indian culture so quickly was very shocking! One of my biggest worries was that the cultural differences would make it hard for them to understand my sense of humor. Luckily, after a few awkward days they seemed to realize that I was joking with them most of the time. It really made me reflect on how universal humor can be even with people from very different cultures and backgrounds. I know it made the trip much more enjoyable for me, and I hope it did for everyone else as well.
Picking any one “best experience” for our time in India is nearly impossible. The whole trip was a great experience for me. Looking back, the dinner the American students cooked for the Indian students on the last Thursday really had an impact on me. It made me realize how close we all had gotten over such a short period of time. Initially, I didn’t think I would get so attached to all the people on the trip, but I was very wrong. I made some friendships that will probably (hopefully) last a lifetime! It will always be a treasured memory for me. I also wonder how long the pasta we threw at the wall will be stuck there…
Since the accomplishment of this project work it is my conclusive entry in this blog.
The time during this entire project went so fast and smooth due to precise and firm guidance of Dr. Daniel Oerther, Dr. Nirmal Kumar and Mrs. Sarah Oerther.
I would like to thank Dr. Nirmal Kumar for providing an opportunity to be a part of such a dynamic team.
- How did you grow personally?
I prefer to learn by doing. In Dr. Dan’s words my method of learning is more of psychomotor and affective. We named our team as “The Farmers”, and each member in our team with different views and abilities taught me various things that I possibly could not find in any book or classrooms. I strongly feel that my vision and dedication to learn is enhanced with lot of curiosity and enthusiasm.
- How did you grow professionally?
Key points that I consider as professional improvements are :
- Working with people with different backgrounds and disciplines and learned a lot regarding data assessment and its application,
- Learned how to visualize and analyze a subject with different perspectives,
- Identification of types and extent of hurdles and how to overcome those is something I learned during this venture,
- I learned how to work as a team with members from different disciplines.
- Time management
- Working and learning from experts like Dr. Daniel Oerther and Mrs. Sarah Oerther was also a step towards professional growth for me.
- What did you learn from working with other disciplines?
Being a part of the project team I learned a lot about how many different disciplines are correlated to each other. My zone of application of knowledge is now wider. Now I can relate and explain the significance of Agriculture to Environmental Sustainable Development, Health and Economy in a better way.
- What did you learn from working with other cultures?
For me the entire experience during the project was awesome. Made many new friends and learnt new things about their cultures. All my friends from USA are from different regions of USA and share varieties of different cultures. India is a country of numerous cultures and all cultures are respected equally. One of the most humble gestures from my fellow MST friends was the surprise dinner they planned and prepared for us (Indian students). Lovely American food and dessert.
- What was your best experience?
Honestly, this entire duration of project work and weekend fun was collectively a great experience.
It would be injustice if I mention just one. Going to village and interviewing the farmers, having dinner with the team members, playing apples to apples, preparing for the Cultural Show at ISTAR, Dr. Dan’s “Garam Banana” jokes and lot more…
One of the best experiences was visiting Anand Agricultural University to relate the information we gathered during the project and discussing those with the experts of AAU. I thank to Dr. Nirmal Kumar and Dr. Daniel Oerther for arranging everything on time.
This entire period of project was fun and made me learn a lot.
When people ask me how the India trip went, I find it hard to sum up the experience in words. “Awesome” does not sufficiently describe my Indian experience.
I learned an immense amount while on the trip. Diving into a new culture is great fun, but is also an exercise in patience, trust, and confidence. Collaborating with people of vastly different cultures and disciplines was a chance to improve communication skills. This collaboration was excellent preparation for working in a globally connected world. Our agriculture research group was composed of a nurse, two scientists, and two engineers, all from different regions of India and the USA. It was neat to see how each team member’s unique skills, personality, training, and outlook benefited the project.
It’s impossible for me to water the trip down to a single best experience, so I will list a few of my highlights:
- Hanging on for dear life in auto-rickshaws or “tuk-tuks”. Mario Kart should add a final level for only the brave at heart: India level. Cows and 3 man scooters will get you every time.
- On our final day of agricultural interviews we really connected with a group of village farmers. They explained to us their frustrations and fears about farming in India, and pleaded with us to help them find answers.
- Participating in the ISTAR cultural show.
- Nightly candle time with the American students. What kids find to do while in a foreign country without their cell phones…
- Participating in the early morning “Crazy Love” Bible study.
- The FOOD. Especially fried lentil balls for breakfast. Indian pure-veg version of chicken nuggets (maybe I was just missing meat?)
- The extremes of poverty and wealth we experienced and observed while on the trip. Our stay at the Taj Mahal Palace was a particular highlight in this category. Learning this side of Indian culture was rough, especially the complimentary chocolate room and steam session.
Thank you Oerther family, Missouri S&T, and ISTAR for this unique opportunity to experience India! Thanks also to our fellow students and nurses from India, your patience and hospitality made this trip so enjoyable. I loved learning from you all!
To all those who are reading this post, I encourage you to travel abroad. Just do it. Your life will be impacted for the better.
We have made it home after a whirlwind trip through India the last three weeks. When we were flying into Cincinnati after travelling for thirty hours I remember my first thought being, “Oh my gosh, it’s so clear and green and spacious!” And when I returned home almost kissing my washer and dryer! No more washing my laundry by hand for this girl for awhile! What a truly unique and special time we have had exploring and participating in the dynamic experience we were fortunate enough to be apart of. It was amazing to watch how most everyone had transitioned so quickly to life in India. We really were quite happy to be there and experience what we did with our awesome new friends and team members. Without them and our group leaders, Dr. Daniel Oerther and his lovely wife Sarah and two kids Barney and Emma, this trip wouldn’t of been nearly as enjoyable and even possible. So a big thanks to all of them for their work and participation.
Below is a list of top trip highlights that I personally enjoyed the most:
- Variety of living accommodations from hostel to Taj. Ending at the Taj was especially wonderful.
- Working side by side with local Indian students that knew the culture and language. They were able to navigate many things we couldn’t on our own.
- Being able to barter and shop.
- Having fun in Ahmedabad and Mumbai. (5 and 7 star hotels are quite amazing!)
- Schedule having many fun things, but still plenty of time to research and rest.
- Cultural show participation was amazing! For sure my thing.
- Having group leaders that seemed to truly enjoy experiencing India with us.
- Playing with schoolchildren. As long as you can smile and communicate with dance and other forms of body language you don’t need the same verbal language.
- Further realizing no matter how different cultures may be, the fact that we are all human created by God and experience many of the same feelings, desires, emotions, and more binds us.
- Learning more of what being content truly means.
It is amazing what travel to diverse cultures from your own can teach you about life. It also can mold and shape you into a much stronger, wiser, and well rounded individual then you were before. Traveling and gaining certain skills from intense traveling aids you a lot in both your professional and personal life. I highly suggest whenever you get a chance to travel. You won’t regret it and will learn so much more than you could ever in just a classroom or in books and movies. While it can be expensive, it is well worth the investment into your future.
Now that we are back in the USA, we transition back to our everyday lives of work and school. But with transitioning, we carry with us our experiences, memories, and new knowledge and wisdom from India. In addition to our new friendships and views on life. May we carry them with us for the rest of our lives.