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Alumni Profiles

Anna Alcaro, MPP '17

Internship Placement: Seva Mandir
Summer 2016 Alumna

How did the program shape your professional goals?

"International Development" can mean and be interpreted in ten different ways depending on who you’re talking to.

As a graduate student at Sanford, I’ve taken several classroom-based courses on International Development topics ranging from International Financial Institutions to Economic Indicators and Inequality, all couched under the International Development umbrella.

All of these were great first steps into the field, however, these pale in comparison to the insight I gained from firsthand experience on the ground in a developing country.

I had worked in other developing countries prior to starting grad school; however, I had never been to India before.

Having learned the value of international experience, I was quick to jump at the opportunity to intern and take classes in India during the summer between my first and second year at the Sanford School of Public Policy.

I decided to apply to the India Summer School for Future International Development Leaders program because I wanted an opportunity to grow and learn in another country context alongside professionals from a different culture than my own. I hoped to better understand one particular aspect of International Development (i.e., working in the rural, developing context in India) and to process the benefits and challenges of working on a multi-cultural development team.

Further, I hoped to continue to think through my own personal ethics and sense of responsibility about acting as an American citizen – striving towards development and poverty alleviation goals – in a non-United States-based setting.

The India Summer School for Future International Development leaders is a challenging and rewarding opportunity that I feel fortunate to have participated in. As someone who wants to make a difference in the field of International Development, I believe that this program has rigorously trained me in community assessment, research methods, and project design and management, as well as improved my intercultural competency and sense of empathy.

I’m proud of the connections I made through my project team and look forward to staying connected with my Indian colleagues and friends moving forward.

As I move beyond my time at the Sanford School I will be quick to apply the lessons I learned through this program in whatever professional platforms I take on next.

alcaro india fieldDo you have any advice for incoming participants?

My advice would be to remain flexible, leave your cultural pre-conceived notions at home, and bring bug repellent.

I had a vague notion of what the summer school would be like and/or what I imagined India to be like, and neither were 100% correct to the real thing.

Arriving in India, other Duke students and myself went through a gamut of emotions as we adapted to our new surroundings, the new language, the new culture, and new way of doing things. Had I not been open and flexible about my expectations, the framework of the program, or anything else, I would have had an even harder time operating in the day-to-day of this program.

It is important to leave your cultural expectations or routine way of doing things at home and come to this program with an open-mind and curiosity.

Like being flexible, it is important to know that many of the ways you've learned to "do development" in a classroom are not necessarily the only ways. I gained a lot from my Indian teammates in terms of understanding the nuanced cultural context of India, and this might not have been possible if I wasn't open to listening, changing my way of thinking, or deviating from my way of doing things.

Lastly, bug repellent is a must.

What do you know now that you wish you knew then?

I wish that I had been less uptight regarding school work. I know that this is an academic program with deadlines and deliverables, however, I would have gained a lot more in terms of experience and time with other program participants had I not been so bent out of shape about turning everything in at a quality of 110%. I also wish that I had known more Hindi and more about India coming into the program. It would have helped to establish a quicker connection with the Indian students and professionals in the program. Additionally, it would have helped during the field visits.

What are 3 "must do" activities while in Udaipur?

Three must-do activities in Udaipur: 1.) Explore Old City, Pabu Bazar, and Hathipol Market. 2.) Eat kachori with curd and chutney (yum!). 3.) Tour City Palace!


 

Georgia Stahl, MA '17

Internship Placement: Jatan Sansthan
Summer 2016 Alumna

How did the program shape your professional goals?

The program reaffirmed my desire to enhance my professional interpreting skills for work in the non-profit sector, as well as my decision to work in youth leadership and capacity building.

Do you have any advice for incoming participants?

Leave your expectations at the door and embrace the uncertainties.

What do you know now that you wish you knew then?

Auto rickshaws are safer than they seem.

What are 3 "must do" activities while in Udaipur?

Take the jeep up to Monsoon Palace, take the gondola ride to overlook the city, and look out over the lake at sunset (watch for huge bats!)