Hello! My name is Valentine d’Hauteville. I’m a rising junior in the college majoring in Physics and minoring in Computer science. This summer, I will be interning at Shahi exports and will probably be spending a lot of time conducting ethnographic research at this garment industry. I know… this physics –anthropology combination has surprised quite a few of my friends and relatives. I am in fact planning n experiencing the “must do” scientific research summer next year, and instead, for this summer have chosen to embark on an exciting, unique and probably extremely instructive adventure. I am French and grew up in Paris where I attended a French high school. I love to travel, discover new cultures and learn about other philosophies of live. Thanks to my parents, I have already been to various places and continents but I have never travelled independently and been given the opportunity be active and immersed in the local community. This is what I am the most looking forward to in coming to India and working at Shahi! Much of our work will consist in conducting interviews and trying to understand the backgrounds and motivations of the Shahi workers in order to help promote an optimal and productive work environment in which these workers can strive. I am particularly eager to interact with young women workers, some of who will probably be my age and to whom I will probably be able to relate to in some way.


I am currently overnighting at Heathrow airport because my first flight to London was delayed, so I missed my connecting flight to Delhi. I am planning on leaving tomorrow morning. I’m starting to find that airports can be quite nice at less busy hours. My greatest regret is that I will now arrive too late to take part in the party the Habitat Center has organized for CASI interns tomorrow night. O well!


Of the things I am the most looking forward to in India are meeting new people, being confronted to a new culture and hopefully getting to grow somewhat confortable in it. I am also very excited at the prospect of wearing authentic Indian clothes on a daily basis. I already own a kurta but have rarely had the occasion of wearing it so far. I just love the way these clothes are so colorful and confortable. I have always dreamed of being chic/ tendy while wearing clothes that were as confortable as pajamas.


Soon enough, I will reach Delhi, see you there !



Hi all! My name is Chan Nguyen and I’m coming from the tiny town of Gettysburg, PA. I’m a rising senior studying biology and economics in the College, and I’m one of four interns for Shahi Exports, a large garment factory based in Bangalore. We will be spending a couple weeks in Orissa and the majority of our time in Bangalore, studying the effects of the rural-urban transition on their young female employees and ultimately helping them develop employee welfare initiatives. I was really excited about this program because it provides an opportunity to explore the intersection of labor and health, and although nothing has been set in stone, my hope is that we will be able to focus on the mental health of the employees.

With that being said, I’d been extremely on edge the whole day before I flew out of Newark yesterday evening (I currently have a layover in Brussels). I spent my fall semester studying abroad in Europe but have never had the chance to travel to India. I’ve spent the past two summers in Philly so the unfamiliarity of my summer plans is a little nerve-wracking, but I’m so grateful for this incredible opportunity. I love that India has such a rich culture (FOOD!), amd ultimately one of the main takeaways that I’m hoping to get is a better understanding of the people there. Can’t wait to see what the next 10 weeks have in store for me!


Hello! My name is Laura and I am from Nova Scotia, Canada. Currently I am pursuing an M.S. Ed. in Intercultural Communication in the Educational Linguistics department of Penn’s Graduate School of Education. I’ll be finishing my coursework in the Fall (2015) semester.

I am very happy to be a part of the team heading to LEAP Skills Academy this summer. I am eager to apply some of the skills I’ve gained through my coursework at Penn and excited about implementing engaging workshops for young people. I am also hoping to expand my understanding of learning environments and to learn more about skill development initiatives as a viable solution for employing the growing population of students entering tertiary education in India. More generally, I find multilingual educational contexts fascinating and I hope to create meaningful intercultural experiences for students.

This is my second trip to India, but my first to both Delhi and Yamuna Nagar. I am excited to be working with people who are also interested in widening access to educational resources. And, as an avid traveler, I am enthusiastic about exploring a new region of this beautiful country!


Hello everyone!

I’m Jacob Van Houten, originally from Lower Merion in the suburbs of Philadelphia and currently attending the College of Arts and Sciences at Penn. I just finished my sophomore year studying Mathematical Economics, and I’m thrilled to say I’ll be spending the summer working with Jana Urban Foundation in Bangalore doing microfinance work. I’m fascinated with the microfinance model, and I’ll be looking to explore both the great impact it can have to individual recipients and its scalability in assisting the greater population in such an immense country. 

This will be my first time in India, and I can’t wait to immerse myself in a vastly different culture and expose myself to new ways of thinking. And as an avid eater, I can’t wait to try the food! (Though I’m posting this a few hours late, and I have to admit the first meal I ate in India with Laura and Eileen was a Belgian waffle and eggs at the ‘All-American Diner’….It was right inside where we were staying, it was late, and we were hungry!)

Sunset over India

Sunset over India


Hi everyone!

My name is Amy Summer and I just finished up my junior year at Penn. I’m from Kutztown, Pennsylvania, which is a little college town in rural PA. I’m studying cultural and medical anthropology with a minor in international development, which is what has led me to work with the Shahi Exports internship team this summer. We’ll be traveling between Bangalore and Orissa, trying to learn about the female factory laborers employed by Shahi Exports, looking at the challenges posed in their migration from the rural Orissa to urban Bangalore, their experiences with shifting gender roles, and their mental and physical well being in light of all of these changes. I’m trying not to go in with specific expectations on what I’ll see or learn. If there’s one thing I’ve learned from my travels so far, it’s that these expectations are never what I end up finding. Flexibility is a beautiful quality when you travel, and it’s one that I’ve definitely been forced to embrace over the last few years. But, if I were to pick a certain question that I’d really like to dig into, it’s how mental health is framed in India, especially in the context of factory work. How do gender and power structures influence who becomes or is deemed “mentally ill” and what kinds of services can be provided to try to help those who are struggling with these issues. I’m hoping that if I can tackle some of these questions, this work could possibly go towards my thesis for medical anthropology.

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Me backpacking last summer in Costa Rica

I’m looking forward to so many things on this trip—getting a chance to work with other researchers and international development consultants, learning my first few words of Hindi, chatting with the women working at the factory, and of course, eating tons of Indian food. But, I really can’t wait for that overwhelming feeling you get when you start to encounter people who have a completely different worldview from your own, and you start to feel your mind grow.


Namaste Everyone! (I tried :P )

My name is Bill He, but you can just call me Bill. That will work. I am originally from Beautiful Vancouver in Beautiful Canada, and I just finished my Freshman year, studying Computer Engineering in our Beautiful Engineering school at Penn. I will be spending the next 10 to 11 weeks having so much fun working for Leap Skills Academy with Eileen, Leora and Laura. Based in Delhi, this organization revolves around skills development and education for students, allowing them to pursue careers of their own choice. This would be my first time visiting India, and I am honestly so excited. Having lived many years in suburban Vancouver city of Burnaby, I had the chance to grow up around a predominately India immigrant community, and the genuine interactions and friendships that I have fostered over these have been so great. I am so excited to see the origins of the genuine traits that my Indian friends embody.

Education is scalable, and education is awesome. Considering that I am also an international student at Penn, I find it fitting to learn more about and contribute back to the international community. I find great joy in transforming my learning into a form of knowledge for others. Especially passionate about engineering, I believe I may be able to tackle issues from different perspectives and make it fun for others while doing so.

I am honestly so exited for the people, for the food, for the interactions, the landscape, the everything, and….. the not JFK airport (which I had the amazing opportunity to get to know inside out, since silly billy missed his flight. But dun worry, I am writing this at the gate, getting ready to board. But thank you Busra for missing your flight as well and keeping me company. You are awesome.)

Stay tuned for more updates you lovely people!


Hi everyone! My name is Busra Gungor and I’m a rising junior in the College of Arts and Sciences. I am majoring in Biological Basis of Behavior and minoring in Health Services Management in Wharton. I live in Nashville, TN and was born in Turkey. This will be my first international trip to another country besides Turkey so I’m extremely excited!

In a few days (ahh), I will be starting my internship at Aravind in Madurai along with Olivia and Vivek. I’ve heard so many amazing things about Aravind, from there phenomenal efficiency and high quality of care to their aim to provide affordable health care to all socioeconomic classes. I personally am really intrigued in their business model and would like to use this internship to explore that aspect of health care. As someone interested in global health, I can’t wait to learn from and watch how physicians practice medicine in rural India.

As many of you probably have heard, Bill and I had an adventurous day yesterday. From running around airports to securing our luggage, it was quite the experience haha. We are currently at JFK and almost on our flight to Delhi! We are so pumped to finally begin our 10 week journey in India. Can’t wait to see everyone tomorrow at the ice cream social :)


More updates/adventures to come!