Reflection on India Experience by Jessica Raskin, Food Science major


Posted: May 23, 2019

I realized that “stuff” or “things” that are the American way should not be the reason for happiness.
Jessica in India

Jessica in India

My experience in India with FD SC 499 was truly eye opening. I felt a huge culture shock starting with arrival in the Dubai airport. Looking back, it has expanded my viewpoints, especially the way I look at the typical American lifestyle of luxury and excess. I did not realize how much more I would learn beyond that which related to food, and how much I would experience in a short time. I am extremely grateful that I was able to participate in this course.

Immediately during the drive to the hotel, I noticed how different the Indian lifestyle is. It made me much more aware of how privileged I am and Americans are in general. I was taken back by the appearance of the city at first because it was much more undeveloped than what I was expecting and what I was used to back in the states. I’ll be the first to admit that I came into this pretty ignorant about the world around me, so the first couple days served as an adjustment period. I spent most of those days just observing and looking at everything around me; the colors, the traffic, the way that the people interacted with each other and with us was fascinating. It still makes me laugh how in awe they were with the sight of 12 American women, especially at Shilparamam.

Shilparamam was one of the most memorable parts of the trip for me. The colors, creativity, and dedication of the locals was amazing. I was most impressed with how crafty they are. It was a lot of fun to interact with them and bargaining, and seeing their passion for their work.

The most interesting visit was Vijaya Dairy. Upon arrival, I felt more at ease since I was able to recognize the machines and understand the processes, but was surprised, to say the least, with how some had no shoes or hairnets on and others had jewelry on. The women who was the Quality Assurance manager was more than welcoming with answering our questions and showing us around her workplace. It was really nice talking to her because we were able to understand the product processes much better than at some of the other visits. I would have loved to learn more about their food governing body and how regulations work after this visit!

ICRIST was also a highlight of the trip. I was so impressed with their pilot fields and how they are impacting other countries’ agriculture and farming.

Wednesday’s adventures made me look at this trip in a new light. To be honest, I was really questioning my presence on this trip the first day. I am not too fond of  change and have only been out of the country to the Bahamas, so India was very much out of my comfort zone. I was also expecting to go to more factory–like facilities to see production. On Wednesday, it finally hit me that the way a majority of the people get their food is from their farms and livestock and not from major retail chains like Wal–Marts and Targets like we do. This day especially made me very glad that I went through with this class. I loved walking through the Old City of Hyderabad and being in the hustle and bustle. It was so neat to be in the middle of the city and cross the traffic like the locals do. I am also really glad I decided to go to the almost top of the fort. I would have totally regretted it if I didn’t.

Looking back, I actually really miss the food. Dosa Hut and the biryani was some of the best meals I’ve ever had. While a majority of it was too spicy for me, the yogurt sauces that were provided were so delicious. (Supposedly there’s a really good Indian restaurant back in my home town that I am really excited to try when I go home for the next break).

Overall, I was overwhelmed with how welcoming everyone who we interacted with was. I felt like they all went above and beyond to make our stays comfortable, enjoyable, and knowledgeable. Kavitha and Suda were nothing short of amazing. They were so patient with us and told us so much about their culture and lives; way more insight then we could have gotten from just reading a book or hearing a lecture.

This trip exposed me to a completely different culture and made me aware of how privileged and excessive the American way of life is. It impacted my value system in that I met people with comparable education but many fewer luxuries and conveniences. I realized that “stuff” or “things” that are the American way should not be the reason for happiness.  The biggest take away was something that was said to us by the women at DDS; she said “Americans complain about not having enough land to feed their population. Yet India has more three times more people and a third of the land and can still make it work”.