Monday, July 30, 2012

Final Thoughts

"Traveling will change you like little else can. It will put you in places that will force you to care for issues that are bigger than you. You will begin to understand that the world is both very large and very small. You will have a newfound respect for pain and suffering, having seen that two-thirds of humanity struggle to simply get a meal each day."

So my program in India has come to an end.  [Luckily my family is coming to meet me and we will continue to travel to Nepal and back through India on our way to the United States].  This experience has truely been life-changing for me.  I will forever be grateful that SMU has included this immersion into their Masters of Advertising program.  The opportunities we were given throughout this month have been endless.  We were able to meet insightful professors, businessmen and women, advertisers, designers, hoteliers, taxi drivers, bus drivers, tour guides, children....the list is endless.  I never thought I would be given the opportunity to travel to a country as captivating as India.

-  1.2 billion people
-  34 states
-  22 officially recognized languages
-  Birthplace of 4 of the World's major religions
-  Home to 40% of the World's poor
-  Home to the largest slum in Asia
-  Home to one of the 7 Modern Wonders of the World

As you know, before coming on this trip we were given the task of pre-reading five books to help us gain a deeper understanding of the Indian culture.  Each of these books has added an incredible depth to the experience I have been able to have here in India.  India is a country so different from ours that often times it stopped me in my tracks.  That's what makes it so incredible.  There really is no other word to describe it. I have been able to see the most severe cases of poverty and the most brilliant forms of wealth. I have been able to interact with undoubtedly the friendliest human beings on the planet.  I have been able to meet some of the most fascinating people that I may ever come in contact with.

Prior to this trip I had my views about what India may or may not be like.  My expectations were beyond exceeded.  Our group was welcome with open arms.  We were able to see so much of the country and observe a great deal about the culture.  Yes, things are very different here, yet somehow they are still the same.  We buy our fruit and vegetables from the grocery store, they go to the local vendors that line the streets.  Men in the states go to barbershops, men in India go to a chair and mirror set up on the sidewalk.  We (usually) drive mid sized cars, they travel by any number of options.  We may not always be friendly, they are.  It's these little things that an outsider would never be able to notice without coming and immersing themselves in the Indian culture.  One of the readings we completed over the summer, Ethnography for Marketers, talks about how by observing consumers in their natural environments; you are better able to gain insights into consumer language, myths and aspirations, all the while permitting a more holistic view of how consumers live, eat, shop, work and play.  Without coming to India, I would have never been able to see, hear, smell, and experience half of the things I was able to by immersing myself into this way of life for 30 days.  

India is an inspiring country.  Do yourself a favor and come experience it for yourself.  Hopefully these blog posts and pictures have shown you a sliver of this country's depth and diversity.  Words will never be able to describe how amazing this past month has been and I can only hope everyone is adding India to their bucket lists as we speak...

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