Reporting From a Winter ‘Classroom’ in India

IMG_GIPcrewMumbiaI was drawn to the Wharton Global Immersion Program (GIP) as my first major trip at Wharton largely due to the fact that I am a huge history geek and am keener to explore the site of an ancient palace and learn about its significance in the world than to visit a beach. The GIP trips combine an on-the-ground education in the economic, cultural and geopolitical particulars of an emerging region of the world with vacationing and relationship-building.

A cohort of about 30 Wharton students made the trip to India. At the risk of sounding cliché, I could not have chosen a more fun, interesting and diverse group of travel companions, and cadre of native Indian coordinators and guides, to share this experience with. And while I could quite literally go on for hours about this experience, I will cover just a few of its most interesting highlights here:

Mumbai

One observation that I found interesting about this amazing country during our first of many cab rides was seeing the peaceful coexistence of the old and new worlds, such as a cow crossing a street two blocks from a 50-floor skyscraper. In no part of India that I visited was this contrast more glaring than in Mumbai.

While there, we visited Pratham Education Foundation, the largest NGO working to ensure quality education for underprivileged children in India. It has sparked a pan-Indian movement that has impacted millions of children across 19 of the 28 states in the country.

The highlight of our stay in Mumbai was meeting up with approximately 50 to 70 other Whartonites who were also in India on treks, shadow treks and visiting family. We brought in the year 2014 Wharton style and shared an unforgettable night of celebration and camaraderie before each individual caravan continued its scheduled journey through various parts of India.

Bangaluru

I first heard about this southern Indian city while reading Timothy Ferris’ The 4 Hour Work Week, a national bestseller from a few years back about outsourcing. In fact, I believe that I’ve hired a graphic or designer or two from this city in some of my past Web projects.

Dubbed as the Silicon Valley of India, I found Bangaluru to be less grand but more livable than Mumbai. Formerly a sleepy little town, Bangaluru has exploded into a metropolis of just shy of 10 million residents as the result of a tech boom started by companies such as Infosys, just as the meteoric growth of the Silicon Valley in California was sparked by the advent of companies such as HP.

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Originally Published February 4th, 2014 by Wharton Magazine.