South Asian politics course: India
Students enrolled in the international relations course “Politics in South Asia” took their studies beyond the classroom during a trip to India over spring break. The trip gave students an opportunity to learn more about Indian society and culture by immersing themselves in the environment.
Associate Professor of International Relations Milind Thakar and Assistant Professor of German Paul Levesque led the group of students throughout the city of Delhi, the southern Indian state of Kerala and various other areas throughout the country.
“I feel successful in having to introduce them to India and specifically a developing country, when most of them have not done so,” Thakar said. “My students met with students from Delhi University, so that was a good interaction. They met with local families and traveled to their houses and apartments and talked to them, getting their local view on everything.”
Junior marketing major Maryssa Smalls said she never knew India was so colorful and culturally rich. Smalls feels that every student should travel out of the United States to gain a broader perspective.
“The biggest thing I gained from the trip was a better appreciation for the world around me,” Smalls said. “I grew up in a small town that was not very diverse, and it was a great experience to get to learn culturally, religiously, politically how different and how similar different places could be.”
Sophomore international relations major Claire Green said that she enjoyed seeing various temples and cultural sites in India.
“I thought it was really interesting to go to the different temples,” Green said. “It was really eye opening to see how a different religion lives their lives and how everything is based off that religion.”
Thakar, Smalls and Green all said they endorsed the educational value of travel for college students.
SBLA: Habitat for Humanity in Savannah, GA.
A group of students from the Student Business Leadership Academy dedicated their spring break to helping the Coastal Empire for Habitat for Humanity in Savannah, Ga. The group worked in a local resale store and helped the organization build a house for a local resident.
According to sophomore accounting major Alex Yurack, the group of SBLA students were able to go on this trip for free in order to satisfy outreach efforts that the club aims to achieve each year.
“When we were actually building the house we were nailing in parts of the wall, and then we organized parts of the roof, because there is a specific way that they have to go up there,” Yurack said. “Then we would lift them up to the top of the house to the professional workers, and they would put the roof on as the day progressed.”
Junior accounting major Shelby Winner said that this year in particular the students had the opportunity to see the direct impact that they are able to make in the community by meeting the recipient of the new home that the students spent their week building.
“I know that we did it last year and had success and that’s part of the reason that we went back again…” Winner said. “This year the Coastal Empire Habitat for Humanity gave us a pretty unique experience because we got to meet the person that we were building the house for.”
Though the students spent most of their seven days in Savannah doing service work, the group also had some free time to explore and enjoy the city.
Winner said that traveling to do service work for free is a great experience, especially with a group of newfound friends.
“It’s just a good way for us to not only get to know each other, but for us to show that being involved with an organization like that is a way for us to give back to the community,” Winner said.
Yurack said that after two years of participating in this project, he is excited to take part in it again next spring, and many individuals in the group have already started to make plans in advance.
“I think that we are going to continue this in the future. We’re already thinking about where we are going to go next year,” Yurack said. “It’s a great event, it’s a lot of fun and it’s always fun helping other people… it’s not the traditional college spring break but I think you definitely get more out of that [service trips] than the alternative.”
Scottish Literature course: Scotland
While some students may have been taking time to visit home, others were traveling across the world to visit sites relevant to their course. The English department’s Scottish Literature class traveled to Scotland to experience the cultural sites of the country.
Associate Department Chair and Professor of English Jennifer Camden was a faculty leader on the trip. According to Camden, the class visited many of the sites and locations that were associated with the literature discussed in class, including three days in Edinburgh.
“If Edinburgh has all of the historical stuff and is the capital city then Glasgow has a history of being an industrial city and a working city,” Camden said. “A lot of the contemporary literature is set in Glasgow.”
Sophomore psychology pre-occupational therapy major Jacqueline Gunther said that on the trip, in addition to the change of scenery, she learned how to communicate with students that have different interests and ideas.
“I learned how to communicate across studies, like across majors,” Gunther said. “We had a lot of majors go on this trip, but we were all studying one thing. It was really cool to see all the different perspectives come together.”
Camden said that the experience allowed for a different learning environment for the students. She attributes the opportunity to apply their lessons in a hands-on way to UIndy’s size and faculty-student interaction.
“It’s a more intense experience in the class,” Camden said. “I think that at UIndy we’re lucky that our class sizes are small and that the faculty are approachable and care about their students. Getting to know students and seeing the students getting to know each other over the course of a week-long trip when you’re together all the time is a different level of professor-student interaction is great.”
Grad students: Vietnam, Hong Kong
After several hours of travel, three School of Business faculty members, three alumni and 13 students in the master’s in business administration program touched down in Hong Kong, China on March 8. They spent the entirety of their spring break in Hong Kong and Ho Chi Minh City in Vietnam, according to Professor of International Business and Marketing Kathy Bohley and Director of Graduate Business Programs and Associate Professor of Business Stephen Tokar.
Each year for the last 11 years, the MBA students, faculty and usually a few alumni have taken a trip overseas to better understand international business, according to Tokar.
While overseas, the students visited foreign businesses. Tokar said that having the opportunity to travel internationally and speak with business professionals from other countries helps students to understand the ways people think differently from Americans and the impact of international businesses in the United States and even on the state level in Indiana.
“They’re not comfortable with the same power distances. They don’t have the same pacing. They may not have the same attention to time restrictions that we do. They may be a lot more focused on building a relationship before they want to sit down and talk about business,” Tokar said. “Understanding those things is key to success in international business.”
Prior to going on the trip, students spent time looking into the economics, political history, culture and other aspects of China and Vietnam, according to Bohley. Once they actually made the trip, Bohley said that her hope was that the students in attendance would have a new perspective on what they had learned.
“Once they [students] go, they will learn [that] A. sometimes what they read is not accurate, and B. you can read anything about culture but you’re not going to understand it and feel it until you’re there,” Bohley said. “… And just the experience of…that cultural shock you can’t get from a photo, you can’t get from a story in a book, you can’t get from watching YouTube. It is something that they have to experience, and it ultimately changes people and then they want to go back again and again.”
Tokar said that he and Bohley are already beginning to plan their trip to Hong Kong and Bangkok, Thailand for next academic year, and that it is open to interested MBA students and alumni. Bohley said that the students who go on the trips see the value in international travel and exposure.
YMCA volunteers: Jamaica
While plenty of college students spent their spring break on a beach, 25 students from five Indiana colleges traveled with Intercollegiate YMCA to Mandeville, Jamaica where they volunteered at Hanbury Home for Children.
The students who volunteered at Hanbury stayed in Jamaica for six days, playing with the children and making repairs to their homes and school, according to senior social work major Danielle Hendricks.
“A lot of them [the children] liked to help,” Hendricks said. “…Some of the kids would hold a screwdriver for us or hold the light. They just wanted to be right there with you.”
Hendricks said the first few days were full of painting rooms and baby-proofing electrical sockets and planning activities for the children. The volunteers also created games for the children, helped them with homework, created crafts and danced with the children.
Sophomore criminal justice major Isabel Tintera said she knew the trip was going to challenge her. However, being in Jamaica and experiencing what the orphanage was like firsthand was much more difficult than she had imagined. While the trip was extremely rewarding for Tintera, she said that it was also heartbreaking to not help the children in a significant way.
“Even though we can’t do more, we’re still making that impact,” Tintera said. “We’re still able to do something. That’s kind of amazing.”
Currently, Tintera and a friend are making care packages to send to the children at Hanbury. She said she plans on traveling to Jamaica again in the future because the trip helped her realize the impact that she can make on the children, even in a small capacity.
“Maybe one person can’t change the whole world,” Tintera said, “But maybe one person can change another person’s world.