Hi Everyone! My name is Kameron Fisher, and I am a rising junior in the College of Arts and Sciences studying International Relations, Modern Middle Eastern Studies, and (possibly) International Development. I am originally from Los Angeles, and spent my first year of college at a small school in upstate New York. This summer, I will be interning at Samaj Pragati Sahayog (SPS) in Dewas, Madhya Pradesh, India.
When I first was looking through the website for Penn’s International Internship Program, I was immediately drawn to all things CASI. After reading every description, I decided SPS would be the spot for me, as I would like to further study (and perhaps work at!) grassroots NGOs focusing on sustainable development. However, after watching the video online about SPS, I was convinced I would not get the internship because the video featured two graduate students; why would they take a little transfer sophomore like me?
Apprehensive as I was, I decided to apply because the opportunity sounded right up my alley and would be the perfect way to learn firsthand about how NGOs work on the ground. When I found out I was accepted, I yelled so loudly that I nearly caused my mom to crash the car—but it was a fabulous day.
From then on, it’s been all things India. I immediately started making lists (a frequent characteristic of my personality!) and learning as much as I could about daily life from blogs, travel websites, and friends. I started meeting my other CASI interns—including my SPS buddy Alexa—and former interns. CASI alums gave us presentations on Indian culture, money, health & safety, and food. It was then I realized how much thought had to go into packing—from water purification filters, culturally appropriate clothing, medicine, snacks, money, and the inevitable visa.
Together, the CASI interns and I started applying for visas through the Indian consulate in New York—a process that is just as painful and it sounds. After multiple rule changes, three overnight shipping purchases, and more than a few headaches, my passport arrived just two days before my flight.
At that point, I started not-so-systematically stuffing everything I needed into my suitcases. At that point, my mom—who works at an airline—decided that she absolutely couldn’t pass up the opportunity to see the Taj Mahal. So, she made fast use of her flight benefits, and checked into Cathay Pacific LAX-HKG-DEL with me.
Armed with nine vaccinations (and half a pharmacy), a new duffel bag, a really comfortable pair of sandals, and an open mind (and a little hesitation), I was ready to depart to India.
May 10th came, and off I went! After a 14-hour flight, my mom and I landed in Hong Kong for a brief layover. Six hours later, we were walking through the Delhi airport, extremely jetlagged. I was so happy to be on land again after 20 hours in the air, and walked out into the hot Indian night for the first time.