AIESEC Strathmore students exchange trip to India
Travelling to India was personally one of the best experiences of my life by a mile. We were five students from the School of Finance and Applied Economics in our third year, pursuing a Bachelor in Business Science in Financial Economics and Finance. We however were not in India for studies but for our Community Based Attachment which is a requirement by the university. We were in New Delhi, India for a period of seven weeks (from February 9th to March 31st)
We were able to travel to India mainly due to a platform called the International Global Community Development Program that is part of AIESEC; which is an International Association of Students in Economics and Commercial Sciences. It is a non-profit, educational and student run organization, with a worldwide member base of over 110 countries and spread across 2100 universities of which Strathmore University is part of.
We sourced for projects in India that fell under the threshold required for our attachment and came across a very interesting project dubbed Project Footprints. The Projects job description was mainly working with Children from under-privileged backgrounds where we were to help out in teaching them basic subjects such as arithmetic, science and social studies. We were also to set up a program about racial equity and demystify the whole notion that people from different races are not equal. We felt that this was something that we could do and hence applied for the same. Our Local Chapter, AIESEC Strathmore, got in touch with the leadership of AIESEC Delhi University, who ran the project, and told them of our interest in taking part in the same. They accepted us for the project and gave us all the information and documents we needed for the trip and we were ready to seize the opportunity.
During our stay there we worked from Monday to Friday helping the teachers in dispensing of knowledge and also giving presentations about racial equity. We showed the children why we are all essentially the same and have the same dignity and we could tell the profound impact we had on them by just the way they interacted with us. At first, they were afraid of us and staring at us as if we were some strange beings but as time went by and interacted with them they came to see that we were not different at all! They mixed with us freely, played with us and even taught us traditional Indian games.
It was in many ways than one an eye-opening experience. We were able to interact with students from various countries in the world: from Egypt, Afghanistan (I know!), Turkey, Italy, France, Indonesia, Russia, Ukraine, China, Japan, Hungary and of course, the Indians. This was mainly due to the fact that we were accommodated in an intern house in which we were forty five people under one roof!
I got to learn about different cultures, I was able to see how people from different parts of the world think and the politics in the countries they were from. I did not think that I would be challenged as much as I was in India. I personally grew both emotionally and socially. I was able to learn how to handle different people and also being an only child, you can imagine the adapting I had to do now that I had forty five people to share things with. It was an experience I would not trade for the world. What is it they say? Make hay when the sun shines? I saw very many different things while I was there during our exploring hours. A particular highlight was seeing the Taj Mahal, one of the Wonders of the World. We were proud to represent our school and Kenya. It was surprising to many of them that we could be as modern as we were, speaking English (we spoke the best English in the house) and wearing clothes that were not made from animal skin!
I would encourage many more people to take advantage of this exchange opportunity given to us by AIESEC and do their attachments in other countries. It is something that you will thoroughly enjoy. We sincerely thank our parents for sponsoring the trip, Strathmore University and especially the Attachments Office for allowing us to do our community based attachment in India, the Vice-President Outgoing Exchange Njoki Gachwe for her competence and support during the trip, AIESEC for setting up the exchange opportunity and God for enabling us to go and get back in one piece with the whole Malaysian Airlines disaster happening while we were in India. For this, we will be forever grateful.
Written by Ikonya Brown.