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Expected Graduation Year: 2019
Internship Opportunity: Agency for Non Konventional Urban Rural Initiatives (ANKURI); Bisht Gaon, India
Why did you originally decide to pursue an international internship?
I knew after my freshman year I wanted to travel and see the world a bit. India seemed like a really interesting place to visit because it is so different, culturally, than anything I’ve experienced in my life. Specifically, the work that I did with ANKURI allowed me to work with a rural nonprofit organization, see how they ran, and understand their mission.
What was your day-to-day life like?
Every day we taught English in the morning. We started a summer camp and got over 200 students ranging between the ages of 5 and 15. We’d teach English in hands-on ways, like through games, instead of just sitting in a classroom. And we gave them the opportunity to interact with native English speakers.
In the afternoons, we knitted scarves and other products for a distributor in India with women from local villages. I learned to crochet and knit from these women that have suffered through abusive relationships. ANKURI gave them the opportunity to make a livelihood for themselves.
What were the biggest differences that you had to adapt to?
It was hot. And there were cows everywhere! We often had to stop in the middle of the road because a cow was crossing. There were also a lot of people, and it was this beautiful, organized chaos which just worked because everyone seemed to know what was going on, what was going to happen next. In the States, it’s so much more orderly.
What were some cultural similarities you experienced?
We learned that a lot of the young knitters listened to the same music, so we’d often be dancing together in the knitting center. Sharing music was definitely the biggest thing we were able to bond over.
What was it like coming home after spending the summer in India?
When I came home, the reverse culture shock definitely hit me. Since I was working in such remote, rural villages, I really recognized how much I took for granted and definitely put my world into perspective. Getting to share my experience with friends has also been really eye-opening; I made a couple videos while I was there highlighting what ANKURI does and some friends have told me that I made them realize how different other parts of the world can be. The experience that I brought back and shared with my network at home made it so much richer of an experience. It allowed me to give a part of my experience to other people and have them understand that what people are doing around the world has an impact.
What skills did you acquire that you will be able to translate into your classwork or your future profession?
I learned a lot about communication and efficiency. I also learned about many cultural differences in the workplace, and how to be flexible and compromising while working as a team to get to a shared goal.
How would you describe the impact that this internship has had on you?
I never thought I’d get the chance to see the world like I did this summer. This internship experience has given me so much; thank you so much to everyone who made it possible. I really appreciate this experience to see the world and be immersed in a different culture. Anywhere you go in the world, you’ll find someone from the Michigan family. Having that connection globally is so amazing, and I’m so thankful for the experiences I’ve had as a result of being a student at Michigan.
What plans do you have for after you graduate?
I’m really passionate about global education equality and I think that’s the field I want to go into, whether that is working in a local school district or working with a nonprofit group on a more international scale. Someday I want to start my own nonprofit organization and I hope to host a U-M student there one day!
If you would like to find out more about how students access these UM Alumni connected internships, please visit https://lsa.umich.edu/opportunityhub/global.