The Indian advantage - visit evokes ambition and passion

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04 Apr 2017

It was a life-changing experience for a group of Ara students, but visiting a culture as different as India has already helped one student to land a new job in Christchurch. Another is investigating business opportunities with new connections in India.

Welcome to India! (L-R) Tom Jones, Joely Elley, Carl Hockey, Demi Cross, Rowan Wilson-Davey, Anastasia Loeffen, Alan McGill, Renae Jongerius and Amit Sarkar.

The Prime Minister’s Scholarships to Asia (PMSA) funded the six week trip in January and February this year to Ara partner institutes Jaipuria Institute of Management in the north of India and Kumaraguru College of Technology in the south.

Presenting about their experiences at Ara on Monday, all the PMSA recipients students said the visit had changed their view of the world, increased their confidence and deepened their self-awareness.

Recent Bachelor of ICT graduate Jessica Pelayo returned from joining the trip, as a self funded student, to a job interview in which she connected with her interviewer about favourite places in India. Jessica’s communication skills and confidence, as well as her impressive technical skills won her the new role.

On internationalisation

The scholarship was established in 2013 by then Tertiary Education Minister Stephen Joyce to help New Zealanders experience another culture, develop their careers and foster New Zealand to be more international. 907 participants have visited India under the PMSA, and the scheme has now been extended to South America.

“This is a very important event,” Kay Giles, Chief Executive of Ara, said. “Education NZ is really looking at innovative ways to engage in the whole international education space. Other institutes are being encouraged to go into the same sort of relationships, because these deep partnerships between entities are going to be the international market of the future. It’s super important on that dimension.”

“If we want to be successful as individuals and companies on the international stage, we’ve actually got to have a completely different way of approaching the rest of the world and this initiative exemplifies that strategy.”

Alan McGill, who at 54 was the oldest in the group, is bringing his studies in the Graduate Diploma in Project Management to life by investigating business opportunities in India following his visit. He was also curious about social responsibility in India, which private enterprise tends to take responsibility for.

"You will come back changed"

Career development alongside personal development was an indicator of the programme’s success Christine Roberts, Scholarships Manager, Education NZ, told the students. “We expect that you will come back changed and we will be tracking your career development... You are alumni now, so expect to hear from us. Thanks for having an awesome experience.”

Other students said the trip had increased their ambition and passion; they visited institutes and attempted cultural activities from riding camels and kite flying to Bollywood dancing in a jam-packed itinerary.

“I’ve returned to New Zealand with a lot more ambition and greater passion for business. I feel I have a greater understanding of the role business plays in society and how it contributes to the world both positively and negatively, but specifically this trip has inspired me to do the Graduate Diploma in (Innovation and) Entrepreneurship after I finish my degree,” Joely Elley, Bachelor of Applied Management student, said.

Demi Cross related the experience to the practical component of the Bachelor of Broadcasting Radio, which involves creating and running a radio station. “The tutors (in India) taught us that life is 10% what happens to you and 90% how you deal with it… Honestly it is the best thing I have ever done in my life. I’m so excited about the world now,” she said.

"I just want to get back there"

Rowan Wilson-Davey, Bachelor of ICT, who visited India last year, was impressed by the religious tolerance, but noted the problems with pollution and over-population, especially in Delhi. He’s planning to return to India soon to visit new friends. “There’s so much to learn, so I just want to get back there,” he said.

Anastasia Loeffen, the youngest of the group at 19, spent two hours showing her parents her slides and talking about the trip after returning. “Something we learned at B School in our first year is that a radio station is cool and fun, but it is a business and it needs to make profit, and that made it so awesome learning about business.” The Bachelor of Broadcasting Radio student was impressed by the effort people made to meet and get to know the group. “They would take us into their homes and make us chai and bake for us. The hospitality was so awesome and that was something I never expected. They are so kind and eager to learn about you and your culture.”

Thomas (Tom) Jones, Bachelor of Engineering Technology – Mechanical student, said, “The industry was not what I expected. I thought it would be sweatshops and lots of manual labour, but it was quite sophisticated.”

Carl Hockey, also from the Bachelor of Engineering Technology – Mechanical programme, enjoyed the “Incredible buildings” that seemed to be achieved despite health and safety standards that were very different to New Zealand.  Carl was struck by the income disparity, noting that people were employed in a new shopping centre to sweep the dust from the bottom of an escalator while outside there were piles of rubbish in nearby streets.

Thanks for the memories...

All the students were extremely grateful for the opportunity to visit India and thanked Ara staff and the PMSA for the opportunity.

The students were accompanied in Jaipuria by John O’Sullivan, Department of Business and Amit Sarkar, Department of Computing, in Kumaraguru.

The Ara study tour plan built on the successful experience of sending a group of Business students to India in Jaunary 2016 on a three week study tour to Jaipuria Institute of Management, supported by the Ara Foundation. Students from Jaipuria have since visited Ara.