Rachel Ameen Recaps Time Abroad

January 17, 2019

This past fall, I studied abroad in India with the SIT’s Public Health, Gender, and Community Action program, based in Delhi. This program, which included several week-long excursions (including one to Thailand!) and a month-long independent study project or internship period, delves deep into the Indian healthcare system, examining the social, political, economic and environmental factors that impact public health. I was able to incorporate several of my majors into my independent study project, creating an interdisciplinary piece that can form the basis for my senior thesis. I conducted environmental research on a farm in the foothills of the Himalayas, studying industrial and organic farming, food sustainability, and climate change. A large part of my information gathering methods was direct interviews, some done in English, some in Hindi, was a unique arena in which to learn more about different cultures. I also met Dr. Vandana Shiva, one of the most prominent environmental activists of today.

In addition to the valuable academics, the program was wonderful on a personal level. The staff, my teachers for the semester, are the most caring and enthusiastic people I’ve ever met, and they made this entire semester exceptional. They got to know each and every one of their students (there were 18 of us) individually, and were very flexible and patient with us. By the end of the semester, my program definitely felt more like a family than a group of students and teachers. I selected a non SU program that is not affiliated with any university in particular, and their diversity of perspectives and backgrounds enhanced classed discussions and added a lot to my learning experience.

I met some of the kindest, intelligent and accomplished people while I was abroad, and was really able to learn a lot from them. Upon arriving in India, I very quickly had to abandon any preconceived notions and expectations I had. The culture is so vibrant and unique, with a lot of history and traditions. These could be challenging, and patience, adaptability, and a positive attitude were absolutely crucial throughout the semester. At this point in time, I’ve been back in the US for about a month, and I am already trying to plan another trip to India. It really is an easy place to fall in love with.