|The Bumpers College group participating in the agricultural International Programs trip to India included (from left) Paul Wolf, Macie Kelly, Taylor Pruitt, Tara Harris, Steven Thao, Belkins Tejiera, Jordan Nichols, Molly Claire Laws and Department of Crop, Soil, and Environmental Sciences professors Mary Savin and Vibha Srivastava.|
Jordan Nichols, Tara Harris, Macie Kelly and five other students joined Department of Crop, Soil, and Environmental Sciences professors Mary Savin and Vibha Srivastava on a faculty-led trip over the January intersession.
"India is nothing like any other culture," said Nichols, a master's degree student in agricultural economics. "India is a powerhouse in agriculture. It introduces students to the challenge of agriculture that you wouldn't see here in the U.S."
"They had such great hospitality," said Harris, a sophomore from Newport majoring in apparel merchandising and product development with a minor in agricultural business. "Everything they had, had some ornate design, and for some reason, they really liked taking selfies with us."
The Bumpers College program combines lectures with hands-on learning experiences to give students an understanding and practical knowledge of the lifestyles within India, and the different methods within agriculture and society India is using to further develop the country.
"India has an enormous, increasing and overwhelmingly younger population of 1.2 billion," Savin said. "Agriculture is an important sector of the economy, especially for rural citizens, and the country is an important exporter of agricultural products. Students gain a deep appreciation for the culture, challenges faced by Indians and approaches undertaken to meet challenges by going to and personally interacting with the people of India."
"Overseas, India was a very influential trip for me, my first influence experiencing another culture," said Kelly, an agricultural education major from Mountain Home. "You leave America, something you are accustomed to and the trends and modernism here, and you go to a culture such as India - it's honestly amazing to see the different ways people operate overseas."
"When I started this trip, my expectations were that India is dirty and overpopulated, but very rich in culture," Nichols said. "However, coming back, I have learned that the people there are unified in their pursuit to become a developed country. The people are very devoted. They finish what they start, and non-profits and religious groups are doing a lot of work to help."
The India program was one of the few Bumpers College offered during the January intercession.
"January was a good time," Harris said. "It was not too cold, and it was not too hot. It allowed us to experience things that we may not have gotten to experience in a trip during the summer."
Students were exposed to multiple cultural experiences, visiting Delhi, Agra and Jaipur.
"I was very happy that we could provide a broad view of Indian agriculture and food industry by visiting big and small farms, research institutes and industries, and by interacting with farmers and their families, students and faculty, and industry professionals," said Srivastava. "Our students experienced urban and rural cultures and the hospitality of Indians at multiple locations. We also experienced the rich history of India by visiting several monuments and palaces."
"If you want a unique agricultural experience, this is the place to go," Nichols said. "This trip is perfect for agricultural economics students, plant science students, crop, soil and environmental science students, as well as agricultural communications students. If you want to learn about the world of agriculture, this shows scope, and that the dynamic is different from the U.S."
Experiences for the group included lodging at the Umaid Bhawan hotel, visiting the University of Delhi South Campus and Dayalbagh Educational Institute, touring an active sugar factory and a rug factory, visiting major landmarks such as the Taj Mahal and riding elephants to the palace in Jaipur.
"I would 100 percent recommend a study abroad program to anyone who is considering it," Kelly said. "Not only did I learn about the industry that I have selected for a future career, I have learned about agriculture and different practices, and how to put that in a worldly perspective. It's honestly an amazing experience that I would recommend to anyone, no matter where you're going. I believe that if you're interested in a study abroad program, that worldly experience will only make you more prepared for your future."
"Participating in a study abroad program allows students the opportunity to experience first-hand what another country is really like, reflect on their per-conceived notions, build their knowledge base and develop interpersonal skills that allow students to interact successfully as global citizens," Savin said.
"Before returning home, we relaxed at the foothills of Himalayas by the river Ganges that descends from the mountains at that very place to start its long journey through the plains of India and into the Bay of Bengal," Srivastava said. "Overall, I feel the exposure to India, a vastly different country that has emerged as an important world economy, helps students develop a global perspective that will be helpful when they step into the real world."
For information about Bumpers College study abroad programs, go to Bumpers' international page. Bumpers College offers faculty-led programs to Belgium, England, China and Mozambique; courses and exchanges in France and Austria; internships in Greece and Scotland; and research in Brazil, the Philippines and Greece.