During this trip I’ve been able to see and experience India in a way I never had before, thanks to an exciting opportunity and experiencing it with a great group of people!

It has been fascinating being in India not as a tourist but as a group trying to be integrated into the experience of living there, and accomplishing a collaborative task – you witness a completely different side then what you would usually see. This integration and collaboration was drew me to the program, a combination of eastern and western experiences, new and old technology and the collaboration of also different disciplines. It has been very valuable to be a part of these crossroads and something I hope to continue to integrate throughout my work.

I’m always amazed at the richness of India: the sights, smells, sounds and the people. The experience of the flow of India is always an adjustment; from the chaos of the street traffic and bargaining to the relax attitude of store hours, the yes-no-maybe-so and the famous estimated 5 minutes. It was hectic trying to run around gathering the tools and resources to complete our intended vision and products, but fascinating to see how things worked – from the streets of stores after stores selling various items from school supplies to printing to kitchenware then to the lumberyards where they stack wood several stories high and cut it with an ancient machine you might see in a museum.

Integrating into daily life was an aspect I didn`t think of prior to coming but one I am grateful for as it made you grounded and created a more complete experience. We were able to get to a point where we recognized and got to know the locals commuters on the train as well as got to know the store owners who playfully banter with you regarding the specific type of paper you’re after to the specific type of mango you’re after. Everyone was extremely patience with us and extremely generous, something I would remember and cherish.

The experience of working with an organization and collaborating with the community was definitely challenging but extremely rewarding. There were struggles with language and cultural nuances as well as working and navigating a very dedicated founder. Yet the rewards and experiences made up for the hard work as it was thrilling seeing it all come together – the founder being happy and the community’s hands literally involved. It was gratifying seeing the excitement of the community as they knew they were part of it, that they own it and it belongs to them, and hopefully it will continue to grow.

Those you travel with actually contribute to a large aspect of the trip. I was lucky enough to be with a fantastic group of people from all different disciplines that all had unique experiences and opinions, and made sure to have many laughs! It was a lot of fun  to be with a group that were so open to new experiences and outgoing, I learned a lot from them and they opened my eyes again to things I had forgotten or began to lose its luster and created new lenses to experience it through.

Met some amazing people in India who made the experience very special – those at ISAC who became quickly part of the family joking and dealing with nutty questions to those in the organizations we met who are doing amazing things and are just amazing overall people. Not to forget the individuals touched by these groups and the children who made everyday a lot of fun and force a smile!