July 1, 2013 12:25:22 AM | By FPJ Bureau
US student Kalinda Panholzer, shares her experiences of working in India as part of an internship programme, and learning in different settings.
While I was thinking of various countries for my internship abroad experience, I was amazed by the richness of the culture and the opportunity in retail India as a country would be present. I started searching and found a non for profit enterprise – Edulab Student Exchange & Development Network which helps foreign students to get exposure of culture along with finding the right work place for them. Although my decision to intern in India faced a fair amount of criticism and questions from well wishers back home, I was firm about it. They all felt I had gone crazy choosing a country with such a high population and poverty.
Against all odds I chose India, and to be honest, this has been one of the most memorable experiences. I got a chance to intern at Remanika – a fashion brand, and learn the details of visual merchandising, branding and finally was a part of the team for the spring photo shoot. It was very a different experience than the one I would have got working for a big brand in the west. The systems and processes were in place and they not only involved people, but also emotions. I think this is very unique, compared to the computerized systems of the west. The trends and expectations of people are to enact the west but still have the traditions and colourful charm of India. This experience has made me look at fashion and merchandising very differently.
Going by my own experience, I would recommend every western student to look at an internship abroad in the country of their choice as it changes a lot of mental beliefs and thoughts.
An internship abroad is not restricted to just the work but the cultural know-how of the place. It helps the individual create the value system and ethos which brings mutual admiration and respect for various traditional beliefs which seem bizarre to us when we stay in the west. I had a unique chance of attending an Indian Marwari wedding which was so colourful in every way, that it will always be a cherished memory for me. It is truly said that it is a “fat Indian wedding” where it is not about just two people but two families and loads of other relatives involved.
We in the west were always confused and wondered why it is about family and cousins when the bride and groom are most important. But going to this wedding changed a lot of perceptions and thoughts and now I wish to come to India and get married in such a manner.
Apart from that, I had a chance to visit the Kala Ghoda Art Festival which was about celebrating art, food and local culture. It just amazed me. It also made me feel that I had a place in this city called ‘Mumbai’ where people are so warm and forthcoming. I truly wish I had more than two months for the internship, but now, I look forward to coming back soon.