If I could go back and talk to myself as an incoming freshman and recap some of my experiences these past years Penn a lot of those experiences would seem expected. The opportunity to work on a presidential campaign, attend the DNC, and spend a semester “abroad” working in our nation’s capital through the Penn in Washington program were all things that drew me to Penn. However, my freshman year self would demur when informed about how I am spending this summer. “The International Internship Program sounds like a interesting proposal, but how does that fit in with our long term goals?” I would answer that three years surrounded by a close group of international friends who challenged your worldview almost on a daily basis changes a lot of things. “Why India of all places?” I would tell my incoming freshman self that India serves a gateway to understanding South and Southeast Asia. “That sounds really fascinating, but I’m still going to need some convincing” is what the kid from Birmingham, Alabama would retort. I finally tell him to experience Penn and ask to reconnect in three years, only then could he have the answers to questions.
From Birmingham to Bangalore:
These simple words capture my journey to India. I’m am privileged to be working with Shahi Exports in Bangalore. Shahi Exports is a major player in the garment industry. I’m look forward to learning more about an industry that I am very unfamiliar with. I look forward to leaning in and looking to play any role that they might have for me. Bangalore has been hailed as the Silicon Valley of India. I’m excited to see all the vibrancy that a moniker like that provides. Even more, I am excited to experience South India. Like most people, my conception and interactions of India is predominantly tied to North India. Before, when I thought about India the first things that came to mind were the cuisine, which here in America mostly comes to us by way of the northern states of Punjab, Uttar Pradesh, and Gujarat, and of course tourist destinations such as the Taj Mahal. Now after reading Other One Percent: Indians in America, co-authored by CASI Director Devesh Kapur, the first thoughts that come to me are the tech focused areas of Bangalore, Hyderabad, and the state of Tamil Nadu. I’m very excited to be able to experience these places, in person beyond page. The areas have become major engines of not only the Indian economy but also the global economy.
As I embark on this journey to Bangalore, India, I’m overcome with calmness and excitement for what the summer has in store. I come with the hypothesis that due to the connectivity spurred technology and the internet, students from the US have more in common with the global populace than we may think. My friendships with international students, and my experiences in the political arena have shaped this idea more than anything else. I believe that connectivity creates compassion and understanding. When we as a collective have a mutual understanding, we can forage a path together free of conflict and full of prosperity. I am truly thankful to the people at CASI for allowing me to be have the opportunity to test this idea in the field.