The FINAL blog
At the conclusion of the farewell dinner, which featured savory Indian cuisine, a photo slideshow, and several parting speeches from students and the BRIC on-sight coordinator, no one moved from their seats. It was hard for students and faculty alike to believe that it was over. The first convoy of taxis that would take students to the airport was leaving in an hour’s time, but everyone just looked around searching for an answer: what do we do now? After three months of rigorous course work, jam-packed daily itineraries, continuous engagements with foreign cultures, and becoming friends with twenty-two other students and multiple faculty members, students had to hold back their tears, or dash for a tissue box when saying their good-byes.
Spending one month in India was considered by many students as a time of great self-introspection. Many students were confronted with remarkable cultural clash when they first step foot into India – the air smelt of sulfur and the landscape and makeshift infrastructures of the third-world country were unrecognizable. By the time that students traveled six hours by bus to Rajasthan to spend five days with ex- child slave laborers at Bal Ashram, there was a consensus that students had their first real taste of India. This was the last week that BRIC students were in India, and it was most likely the last time students would ever see the children that they worked with at Bal Ashram ever again.
Before arriving at Bal Ashram, students were briefed that they had to create a schedule of educational and recreational activities for boys ages eight to eighteen. That was it. Little was known about the children’s proficiency of English, or the daily functions of Bal Ashram. Yet, it took no more than 24 hours for students to get a hang of the institution’s routines, and shortly after, the hearts of BRIC students were captured by the rescued children.
The majority of boys at Bal Ashram were from the ages of eight through twelve. There was only a handful of students that were sixteen or older. Therefore Babson students held multiple activities that were geared toward the dominant age bracket. Students presented basic science experiments, painting and paper airplane making workshops, and played cricket with the children. Even though a language barrier was present, there were several people that were either a part of Babson or Bal Ashram that could speak Hindi and fill in the language gap. But the most effective communication, however, was the language of silence. Students and children primarily interacted by way of non-verbal communication, and most times it proved more effective than using words.
BRIC students learned that there are thousands of children in India that are trafficked into child slavery. Only a miniscule percentage of children in India are rescued and taken to institutions that clothe, educate, and bring back the essence of the once-lost childhood that all child slaves are stripped of when they are forced to make bricks or beedie cigarettes without break or pay. Many students were presented with the difficulty of coming to face with this harsh reality, but each student realized that they can make a small change in the grand scheme of things. Indeed, we cannot conquer child slavery, poverty, illiteracy, or food shortages instantaneously. But by working together, and if each one of us plays our role in the changing of the universe that we live in, we can achieve change.
Many students changed after attending BRIC. We have seen new cultures, learned more about business environments, and made many new friends. It is quite a challenge for us to fully understand how the BRIC experience helped change our guide our lives. There are things we recognize and others we can’t, nor ever will. However, we all know that this is not the end. Even though BRIC is over, we know it is just the beginning – there is more to see and learn in this world.
From the bottom of our hearts, we thank Babson and its faculty for giving us this opportunity to expand our cultural and educational horizons. We Thank Londa Jensen, our on-site coordinator, for making our day-to-day experience on BRIC smooth and manageable. We hope that you have enjoyed our blogs, and each of the twenty three students that were a part of BRIC 2011 salutes the future member of BRIC 2012 – we wish them the very best, and want to assure them that they will have the best times of their lives in Russia, China, and India.
For the next two months, BRIC students will be resting mentally and physically from the incredible workload and traveling. So parents, please do not get upset with your child when they talk non-stop about experiences on BRIC, or they do not want to do anything productive until second semester begins. Did you know that we didn’t have weekends on the trip? Or that each student wrote almost 80 pages individually – that’s almost two thousand pages combined! And did you hear…..Parent’s, please be kind to your children. They worked hard and may very well be lost in their BRIC experiences to this day.
I know I am.