My International Experience in India

A blog post from SOLES MA in Higher Education Leadership Studies Ambassador Juleane Johnson.

Today marks the third day of my EDUC 579i: Education in Post-Colonial Context experience in India. It is also the fifth day on my very first trip abroad!. As an undergrad, I honestly didn’t think a study abroad experience was something I was capable of doing. As a professional in Student Affairs, I have learned a lot and know what a missed opportunity that was.

One of my motivations for being part of the School of Leadership and Education Sciences at the University of San Diego was the International Requirement. The way I view educational systems, the scale of the needs and demands of students calls me to look to multi-district, multi-region, multi-state, and multi-nation perspectives and insights. During our time in Mumbai, we have:

  • heard from resounding voices in Disability Services and Action, in Higher Education Leadership training, and keen knowledge of the marginalized populations of India.  
  • visited different schools with very different student demographics, family experience and expectations such as the Gateway School of Mumbai, linked to the Gateway School of New York and the Bombay Municipal Corporation School.
  • taken a bus tour of southern Mumbai, saw the Arabian Sea, went to the Children’s Museum and I haggled for the first time in one of the local markets!

This is just the beginning, the first leg of our journey!. We will make our way to Agra at the end of the week and finish our time here in Delhi.

Classroom in India

During this experience, I have the honor and privilege of joining colleagues from both Ph.D. and Master’s in Education programs. These individuals represent the field in a myriad of ways as elementary and high school teachers, ESL instructors, data analysts, Special Education and Disability Specialists and more!. Our student partners, at the Tata Institute of Social Sciences in Mumbai, are also seeking their Master’s and/or doctorate degrees in Elementary Education, Secondary Education, and Social Work. This collaboration has been so special. It is allowing us to learn and develop side-by-side while having a dialogue about our perspectives, cultures, and country’s educational systems.

Dr. Kalyanpur has spent the last couple of years working on these twelve days that we each will treasure and cherish. I cannot thank her, my colleagues, and our partners enough for being so open, vulnerable, willing and resolute. What we are experiencing is more than gathering qualitative data or even connecting readings to real-life experiences. It is about being present for real-time transformative thinking and understanding that it cannot come from words on a page or a voice through a video. It comes from having face-to-face interactions and internal exploration.

We’re not done, but even more, I’m not done. There’s a hunger, an interest, and desire in me for cross-cultural learning and in a way that I have yet to experience. I have no notion as to what that will look like, what that entails or what that fully means, but I do know that I’m ready to start!.

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