INDIA - Rotary Group Study Exchange (GSE) 2012
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Published: November 22nd 2011
With the encouragement of my neighbor, Kathy, I decided to apply for the Group Study Exchange (GSE) program through Rotary. I didn't know much about it other than you had to be:
• 25-40 years old
• In your field for at least two years
I didn't know if I would qualify or if I had the right experience they're looking for, but I figured the worst that would happen was that either I wouldn't get accepted or that I would get accepted and come home to no source of income, boyfriend or place to live, but at least have the experience of a lifetime. There is no way that you can spend a month in another country and not have some kind of life revelation. Since I was learning about the program pretty late in the game and the deadline was quickly approaching, I didn't have my hopes too high. I was honestly surprised to receive word that I was one of nine candidates for the trip. Not that I don't think I'm qualified, but this is huge.
There were all sorts of "what-ifs" and concerns going through my head, but I knew I
Gary - Team Leader
St. Joseph, Michigan
had to at least try. It's a long time to be away from home, pushes graduating back further, my grandma's health is questionable, TSA won't let me pack my boyfriend in my suitcase.... but after I managed to
">do this, tears and all, I told myself I can do anything.
Alex and I hit the road for Kalamazoo. My palms were sweating. I couldn't eat. It might have been the caffeine and lack of food, but the interviewing process felt intense even though the interviewers were very pleasant. It can be intimidating to be seated with so many faces situated around you, intently focused on your every word and taking notes.
It was a nerve wrecking wait, but apparently I did well because I received the call that evening that I had been accepted. I immediately called Kathy to tell her the news and thank her for all of her support and encouragement through the process. I think she was actually more excited than I was. Her enthusiasm helped me to grasp that this is actually happening. I am actually going to India for an entire month.
I couldn't thank Kathy enough for the push toward this opportunity.
While the 'worst that could happen' scenario #1 is off the table, I have a pretty good feeling about scenario #2. Alex has been supportive of my venture thus far. He's putting up with my long hours while I wrap up the quarter at school while working full time. I'm not banking on having the internship to go back to only because I don't want to be bummed if things change and it isn't an option when I get back. Don't get me wrong, my boss has been really great about the time away. He gave me a book about India, has been supportive and excited about the trip and said that we'll figure things out for while I'm gone, but I know they have a business to run. The work isn't going to go away and I can't imagine a replacement intern would only want to be there for a month or two.
If I can't go back to the internship, I do still have a degree to focus on and regular updates from my super awesome network of family and friends with j-o-b openings in my field so either way... things will work out. They always seem
to as long as you're flexible. Just another adventure, right?
Now the real journey begins. A few weeks ago I finally got to met my teammates, Jen, Julie & Kristin, our team-lead, Gary, and the alternative teammate if one of us can't make it, Jed. I wish our alternative could come either way. Jed is a quick witted guy with EMS training. Something about his sense of humor and skills for an emergency/medical issue is comforting. Maybe it's just me. Of course, I did have CPR training back when I was certified to baby-sit... I'm sure that'll do us loads of good.
We meet every Sunday to train before the trip. The itinerary is still up in the air. The program requires four weeks, but India only sent us three weeks. They're still trying to work that out. I just got clearance from my doctor today, getting emergency evacuation/death and dismemberment insurance after this post and meeting the vaccination doc in December.
There is an overwhelming number of things to do before we go. A big part of what we do while we're there is present to the Indian Rotary clubs about Michigan, our sponsoring
Rotary clubs, our cities and a little about ourselves. I'm working on my team's powerpoint and brochure now. We have to figure out uniforms and rehearse. I haven't had any time to research the area, what to expect, or put much thought into what I need to do/pack since I'm at school and work from 8 or 9 in the morning til 9...10...11 o'clock at night.
When there is real news to report, the group has a joint-effort Facebook page that we'll all be contributing to
. Nothing much to see there yet. DESTINATION
Andhra Pradesh, India WHEN
January 2012, 4 weeks ACCOMMODATIONS
Rotarian host families. We will move regularly to see/do more. WHAT IS GSE
The Group Study Exchange (GSE) program is a unique cultural and vocational exchange opportunity for young business and professional men and women in their initial years of professional life. It is designed to develop professional and leadership skills among young adults, so that they can address the needs of their communities and an increasingly global workplace. VOCATIONAL VISITS
— Provide opportunities to observe vocations as practiced in another country
— Impact team members’ long-term careers through exchange of ideas in their respective fields CULTURAL EXPERIENCES
Andhra Predash is in southeast India. We'll be traveling along the coast.
Allow participants to study another country and its people, language, and institutions through experiences in an organized and meaningful host program
— Promote an appreciation of cultural diversity worldwide FELLOWSHIP OPPORTUNITIES
— Encourage team members and hosts to meet, communicate, and live with each other in a spirit of fellowship and goodwill
— Consider each other’s problems, aspirations, and community concerns
— Foster lasting friendships and international understanding ROTARIAN INVOLVEMENT
— Offers Rotarians specific, practical, and meaningful opportunities for international service by providing young, formative professionals a different perspective of their vocation in another country and culture
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