Friday, April 18, 2014

Spotlight on GLOBASE India

By Andy Dumich, First-year MBA, Finance

Tired, nervous, and excited, I stepped outside the airport in New Delhi.  It was my first time visiting Asia and ready or not, I was about to get my first taste of India. 

Beautiful Himalayas near CORD
Delhi was dense.  It was dirty.  It was alive.  The pace of life would change dramatically as we drove our bus north.  Our destination was Sidhbari, a small town separated from Pakistan only by the majestic Himalaya Mountains.  Sidhbari is home to the Chinmayan Organization for Rural Development (CORD).  My GLOBASE group had been working with CORD for the previous seven weeks and we were thrilled to finally meet in person.  After a long day of travel and a welcome celebration, we retired to our onsite rooms at CORD.

Our mornings often included an early wakeup to watch the sunrise over the Himalayas or a hike to the nearby Buddhist temple where we watched the monks during their morning prayer.  Back at CORD we ate homemade breakfasts of traditional Indian food and then set out for our day in the field.
My team’s project was to learn about CORD’s Social Justice Program and lay the groundwork for a comprehensive impact study.  We visited homes where several current beneficiaries lived. 
Local village woman in her home

We met a woman whose husband came home drunk one night and attempted to burn down their home while his wife and children were sleeping.  CORD helped the illiterate woman to file a case and have her husband put in jail.  We could still see the char marks on the inside wall of her rebuilt home.  Another woman’s husband intentionally infected her with the HIV that killed their teenage daughter.  She welcomed us into her one room clay home and shared chai and cookies.  It is difficult to describe the warmth and friendliness that we felt everywhere we went, but it left me in awe. 

Another day we visited a Hindu temple for lunch.  Rice and vegetables were served from buckets to a dozen people by priest using his bare hands.  Our plates were made of leaves tied with bamboo string.  We discarded our plates over the edge of a cliff and relaxed by playing in a nearby waterfall.
Me with one of the many cows in India
The experiences were so unbelievable that back at CORD we liked to play a game called Truth, Truth, Lie during dinner.  Each of the five teams would tell two true stories and one lie about their day.  It was difficult to narrow it down to two truths and tough to detect lies among others team’s adventures.

India pushed my comfort zone.  It forced me to open my eyes to another culture. Despite the occasional feeling of sadness towards some people’s circumstances, it was amazing to hear how they overcame adversity.  At the end of the trip, one thing was certain – I’d never have another spring break quite like this.


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