For the third year in a row, the Binghamton University School of Management organized a winter break trip to India for students to learn about business in the economically booming country.
Vishal Gupta, an assistant professor in the School of Management who founded the trip in 2010, said that he wanted to give students the opportunity to learn in a global atmosphere outside the classroom.
“I noticed that there were no faculty-led tours being offered here,” Gupta said. “This tour allows students, some who have never even left the country, to experience a culture different from the one that they are used to.”
India is a viable destination for students who hope to get business experience abroad, according to Gupta.
The trip was held from Jan. 8 to Jan. 20.
Non-SOM, as well as non-BU students, were able to attend the trip. Gupta said that about 10 to 15 percent of the students who went to India this year were not in SOM. Gupta said that he wasn’t sure exactly how many students went this year, but said that in the past as many as 27 students have attended.
To prepare for the trip, students were paired with an “e-buddy,” a student of similar age from India, who communicated with the BU students through email, and other forms of social media before the trip. Once in India, the students met face-to-face with their “e-buddies” who help the BU students acclimate to Indian culture.
Gupta said that the e-buddy partnership makes it more comfortable for Binghamton students to interact with Indian students when they first arrive.
“It’s as if they are best of friends already,” Gupta said. “They have already learned so much from one another and so much about one another. It is really great to see students from different cultures get along so well.”
While in India, students meet with officials of major companies, such as PricewaterhouseCoopers (PwC) and other business leaders.
“Students met with officials of PwC, a company that many students go to work for in New York after graduation,” Gupta said. “They get the opportunity to meet people of very prominent global companies.”
Students also took part in cultural tours of India, including Lohri, a Punjabi winter celebration.
Gupta said that he believes the trip was successful because it pushed students to be successful in environments that are unfamiliar to them. He said he thinks the trip will better prepare students for their future than any classroom interaction will.
“We put our students in front of really high-level officials,” Gupta said. “These are just 22-year-olds asking really probing questions. It makes us proud to hear from people that our students are bright and that they do not lose focus.”
Students who traveled to India said the trip encompassed both academic and cultural learning.
Pierce Smith, a senior double-majoring in psychology and management, said the trip taught him to adapt to unfamiliar environments and left him more open-minded.
“I think a lot of the learning that took place was tacit learning,” Smith said. “I learned that people can adapt to pretty much any circumstance they are faced with. India seems to the outsider very chaotic, but yet the people have a very peaceful flow about them.”
Theresa Leone, a sophomore majoring in accounting, said the trip influenced her greatly.
“I think all of us came away with a different understanding of the world in general,” Leone said. “Personally, I feel like this trip helped me re-evaluate what it is I want in terms of the future and my career. It’s helped show me what kinds of opportunities I want to have available to me and some of the steps necessary to get me there.”