“I Guess This is Goodbye, Old Pal”

In one of my favorite musicals Into the Woods there are the lines of:

“I guess this is goodbye, old pal, you’ve been a perfect friend,                                              I hate to have to part, old pal, someday I’ll buy you back.”

He happens to be singing about a cow, and I’m not about to purchase anything back, but I find the words fitting. We went into the “woods” of this extraordinary country, and made so many friends and had such a time of growth in a country where the cow happens to be revered. But the musical is all about the growth of the characters, and I know that I definitely grew.

Entrepreneurship was something that was foreign to me. I find safety in numbers and equations, or on a stage with a giant crowd, most certainly not buried in the depths of a business plan. But I know that someday I wanted to be the engineer who has the ability to talk between any group, therefore my business understanding had to develop.

Working  directly with Ushas School for Exceptional Children was an amazing experience. Though at times I felt the timeline for the course kept me from bits of information I would’ve like to know earlier, and didn’t give much processing time, we managed to come so far and I believe we made a difference. The mentally disabled children at the school were precious, and in the end, we were able to influence the owner to see that she needed to spend small amounts of money on promotion of her school with brochures and cards so she could bring in more donors. We were able to outline that she needs to get a new board so that she has more manpower and is not stretching herself thin, also, we saw simple changes to social media that are easy fixes to promotion problems. In short, we learned how to make a difference, and turn a bunch of engineers into entrepreneurs in the making, and it was a great feeling I hope to have again.

India was a step forward through professional know-how, and was an eye-opening experience. It is my “old pal” who I say goodbye to, who I may see again someday.

-Marcelle Durrenberger

Hold Your Breath, Take It All In

A roller coaster is an understatement; my time in India has been quite the ride. Remembering to pause and take it all in has been difficult, but the calm has set in before the flurry of energy before departure.

This has been foreign territory in more ways than one. Not only in actual land, but in the environment, and testing my engineering toes in the business water. All things new and exciting in their own ways. Though I must say I don’t think I’ll miss Indian food other than naan, every meal has been highly entertaining with its spices. Plus, the people have been an absolute joy, getting to visit multiple homes with arms open to us has been such a comfort, and opened the doors of the India culture.

But not only has the culture been an exploration, but the business as well. I love interdisciplinary work as an engineer, so I was eager, but much to my surprise, we went to a business with only a group of engineers and technical majors. But that offered an amazing challenge as we all learned how to address business needs while utilizing the problems solving skills we are ingrained with. I felt useful, helpful, and I learned at every turn. Now it is time to wait to see how this learning help me in the future, and to hope I can savor all these thrilling moments forever.

-Marcelle Durrenberger

The Facade of One, The Heart of Another

Imagination is one thing, perception is another.

If you talked to me a year ago, I was wild with the desire to travel, happily settled in Scotland for the semester. A year ago, I would have never thought I’d be sitting in India, hard at work, patiently waiting for the power to go back on.

Before, I could only see the preconceived notions of poverty, danger, and lack of health imminent on every corner. Now, I have entered a world that I could barely imagine, one with the most welcoming individuals imaginable, where the culture is rich and vibrant. The desire to help is stirred up, as is the guilt, with the exchange rate favoring the dollar to 1 to 60 rupees. I feel like a wealthy and poor student at the same time. The more time here, the more the little things matter to me.The importance of family, the luxury of fresh water, and clean air. I appreciate my life more, but realize that since they do not know any different, many people in India have the same appreciation regardless of their conditions. I’ve rarely met happier people compared to who I have found here.

India’s facade may be gritty, grimy, and rough around the edges, but it is beautiful on the inside in its own way. The colors are stunning, the clothing is beautiful, and the smiles from the local school children charm your heart. There are the sprawling fields in the countryside, and the winding roads through mountains and valleys, reminding you that though millions of people are in this country, there is still so much openness. So many people do not embrace the innovations and technologies visible in the U.S today, but then you remember that simple ways are sometimes the most effective.

Every day has been a new exploration, and though our time is dwindling, the learning shall continue beyond this. But for now, I will happily appreciate the regular power outages and soak up the sun as I sit here in this fascinating country.

-Marcelle Durrenberger