During the upcoming spring break, Mount students will be given the opportunity to travel to India. The trip is part of the business department’s Global Business and Culture course, it is a three-credit class open to all majors. The course counts towards the business major and all majors under the school of business. It also counts towards the global encounter’s curriculum.
The course is separated into three different parts. The first part is the actual work done in the classroom, which will be spent studying an introductory course in Indian economics, politics, development and culture. The second part of the trip will be spent touring three major Indian cities, the first few days after arrival to the country. The final part consists of the second half of the trip. In the final part, the students will get to travel to Mumbai, where the Mount has a partnership with a local college. Here, students will get to participate in classroom activities as well as get to know their fellow Indian students.
Both the class and trip will be held by Dr. Michael Berry, who has a background in studying the former Soviet Union and Russia. He is neither new to arranging and hosting these kinds of trips. After having worked at the school and arranging these trips for a long time, he says that the way it all started was through a chain of travels. He explains that, “When it came to the Mount, I started a trip to Russia and then China and then India.”
With much experience in these kinds of trips, he says, “My favorite part of working at the Mount is these trips. Just getting to see other countries and meeting other people is very exciting.”
He also mentions that he did a similar thing (study abroad) when he was in college, and he had always thought that it was a great experience. He believes that everyone should be able to study abroad.
In regard to why one should attend the trip, Berry says, “My attitude is that it’s great to study and read books and everything, but you know it’s even better to see things and study them with your own eyeballs. We all learn really well that way.” He also mentions the fact that for many people full-term trips are difficult to attend since they are long and expensive. Additionally, many people at the Mount are student-athletes and therefore cannot travel during an entire term. These problems, however, do not exist with this course. Given that it's short and during a break, one will have both the time and money to go.
The trip, however, is not something new to Mount St. Mary’s University. Berry states “The last time we went to India I think was 2018 and then 2 years before that and 2 years before that”. He explains that people might find it new because they have not been able to go in recent years due to the pandemic, but this should not be of any trouble for this spring’s trip.
Berry says that all the international trips orchestrated by the Mount differ because the countries are all different but what makes the India trip stand out is its socioeconomic state as a third-world country. He says, “Students at this school (referring to the school in India) are not very wealthy and have not met many westerners and certainly not Americans before. So, I think, maybe for them, it's also a learning experiment; Having Americans meet Indians. Something happens when you have people meet and talk and laugh. I think it’s just kind of hands-on culture.”
He also details how the economic aspect offers another learning opportunity and that it can help the traveler appreciate what they have and understand modern issues.
Finally, he concludes by saying, “These countries have, despite their poverty and developmental challenges, a lot of strengths in things that we maybe do not see and appreciate as much. So going there (India) and seeing this is really good.”