Being here in India reminds me of my childhood in the Dominican Republic. I drink coconut water whenever I feel like it, people drive motorcycles more than they do cars, the people have a warmness to them that makes me feel at ease and they are hardworking but not workaholics. But Bangalore is very different than Bonao, DR (where I spent the first 8 years of my life). Bangalore is huge city with 11.5 million people (that’s more than NYC!) with everything one would ever need or want. Bonao is a town with less than a hundred thousand people and there isn’t really much to do. But somehow, being here reminds me of the simple joys that I experienced in life when I was younger.
I feel an immense sense of gratitude as I’m able to draw upon such diverse experiences from my childhood in the DR, my life in NYC, my other travels through different parts of the world, and my current journey in India. I have been extremely fortunate and blessed to be able to have the opportunities to learn about the world from so many different experiences. One of my goals coming to India was to gain perspective and being here for just one month has already helped with that.
Being literally halfway across the world has made me miss my friends and family much more than I anticipated. But the flip side of that is that it has made me realized how great it is to have people who support and care even when you are thousands of miles away, it doesn’t diminish with distance! Equally as great is the opportunity that I have here to meet and get to know more amazing people. My co-interns are pretty awesome, and have very different experiences that make any activity we do together always a blast. The fruit vendor near my apartment, the hosts at our apartment, the staff at my nearby gym (side note: found a gym so I can still run my half marathon in the fall!), the people at Jana (who help us literally in every way possible) and the people who I meet when I travel all add so much to my day-to-day and it’s their small kind gestures that make being here feel more exciting.
Initially it was very difficult for me to try to get used to a place that is so different from what feels like home to me. But when I really think about it, home isn’t a physical place. If we are able to gain some perspective and shift our gaze a little, we begin to see how much we really have and how lucky we are to be sharing it with those in our lives (doesn’t matter if this perspective comes from eating coconuts or deep late night conversations with friends).
Update on my project:
At this point I’ve completed the basic data analysis for the two segments of JFS (Janalakshmi Financial Services) clients- MSE (Micro and Small Enterprises) and Microlite (Emerging Micro Enterprises) and I’m now working to identify key variables. The next step of the analysis is to use spatial mapping of the enterprise to see how many customers they will be reaching. In addition, I’m working on a questionnaire to conduct fieldwork (in the coming weeks) and get feedback on current agents what is working well with the program and what could use improvement. I am so excited about getting to do fieldwork because it will make the final analysis so much more compelling and I’ll finally get to meet the people who I have been crunching numbers about. Luckily, I’ll be getting some help on these new tasks because Elizabeth (one of the other interns) will be joining the agent banking project!
Until Next Time!