Megan: I heard about the fellowship because one of my friends, Denise Blankenberger, was a recipient of the fellowship last summer. I decided to apply because I can't picture a more perfect experience. Theses kind of opportunities are the ones you can't pass up on. I was absolutely delighted to even be a part of the fun application process experience I had. Now I am looking forward to the journey with the fellowship!
Haley: I am pretty sure that the first time I heard about Cultural Vistas was from the amazing Barb Stedman. After I was told about the fellowship I looked it up and after spending about six minutes on the site I instantly decided that I wanted to apply. In that amount of time I grasped that this fellowship had a few components that I was extremely interested in. First was the theme of the fellowship, which was “Entrepreneurship and Innovation”, and with my dream being to do PR for renewable energy companies and I thought that the theme was tremendously applicable. Next, with the fellowship I would be able to be immersed in a new culture and be able to gain internship experience abroad in a country where exciting, large-scale changes are taking place in the renewable energy section. It was a remarkable opportunity that I didn’t want to pass up.
How do you feel about the country to which you're headed?
Megan: I am really excited about the host country being India. I have had the joy of hearing stories from friends about their experience being there with family. It’s been a goal of mine, and now I’m finally getting the opportunity. India is such a beautiful, colorful world of culture and I am excited to see it firsthand. I have also been looking into informal settlements recently. I am excited to have an opportunity to see the contrasting styles of life so close to each other and hear about what it’s like in each one. Just being able to see and hear about the lives people live in India will be amazing.
Haley: I am very excited to be traveling to the country of India and spending two months in the city of Bangalore. Getting the chance to travel has always excited me and now that I know that the majority of my summer will be spent abroad in India I am thrilled. Thinking about everything from the food to the the city atmosphere to the new cultural experience makes my heart beat a little faster but in the best way possible. My goal for the trip is to have an open mind and be willing to accept new experiences and truly experience what it means to live and work in India.
What does it feel like to be one of only 12 winners nationwide?
Megan: An opportunity like this is thrilling. The idea of being one in 12 nationwide is a great honor. It encourages me to be confident in what I can do, but it also gives me drive to make the most of the experience because only a small group of people are getting this opportunity.
Haley: I am extremely honored to be one of the winners this year! I am thankful for the rare and extraordinary opportunity to be in India this summer getting the chance to see my many passions come together on a global stage. I knew that it was going to be a competitive process but I told myself that someone has to win so why not me? In many respects I think life can be too short and I always try to take advantage of every opportunity that I have and this fellowship is no different. When I found out that another one of the winners was a student from Ball State I was stunned and so excited. I am overjoyed to be traveling with Megan to Bangalore and getting the opportunity to celebrate, talk, and freak out with another Ball State student and friend before the big trip.
What do you plan to do while on the internship? How do you think it will change you?
Megan: I am, of course, looking forward to professional experience, especially in another country. Mostly, though, I am excited to meet people. Being able to be a listener in a world so different from my own will open up my mind to so many new ways of thinking. I expect it will change the way I think about things and handle even the smallest day to day experiences.
Haley: In Bangalore I plan on interning at a renewable energy company. I hope to gain insights into the renewable energy world and especially how renewable energy impacts other countries. I am particularly looking forward to observing what tactics and modes of communication are successful for promoting renewable energy in India and which are not. I think I will learn more than I can image right now. I will learn how to work with people half way around the world and with a culture that is much different than my own. Even though there will be differences, I am excited to learn as much as I can and bring back my two months worth of knowledge and experience that will make me a better student and person.
Is there anything else you want to let people know about the experience or the application process?
Megan: Something this experience has already instilled in me before I leave is this: If you really want something, go ahead and try. Go into it thinking you can, and be sure to give it your best. Understand what you gain from each step of getting there so you are ready to handle whatever the ending is. Find people to help you. Trust me there are plenty out there, and they can make a big impact. Then go out there and chase after what makes you excited.