India's insightful experience

Indiana University senior Chesley Swann was already an experienced international traveler. The Washington, D.C., native had already traveled to Ghana through a program at his junior high school and performed in China with the renowned D.C. Boys Choir as part of a music festival.

But through IU’s Overseas Studies and Scholarship Program, a unit of the Office of the Vice President for Diversity, Equity, and Multicultural Affairs (OVPDEMA), Swann went to India in the summer of 2015, and came back from the trip with an entirely new perspective.

“I think it sparked an interest within me and other students. We see the world is much bigger than where we are right now. India is amazing—I want to come back and maybe do an internship, maybe even a job,” said Swann, a policy analysis major in IU’s School of Public and Environmental Affairs (SPEA) who plans to attend law school after graduation. “It really widened my horizons to see that the world is so big and has a lot of opportunities. People are people, no matter where you go. They value the same things, like family and being honest. So, that’s one thing that I saw, that you have so many opportunities to go out there and meet people, and if you put your mind to it, you can do it. I think that’s the one thing I got from this trip to India.”

On the trip, Swann and his fellow IU students visited the cities of Varanasi, New Delhi, and Mumbai. IU Maurer School of Law Professor Kevin Brown led the group in studying the relationship between the contrasts and similarities between African Americans in the United States and the Dalit class of India. That aspect of the experience appealed to Swann, who believes traveling through OVPDEMA gave him a different insight and sense of community than other excursions abroad.

IU has really provided a space where you can explore, and education is all about that—it’s not just in the classroom. The best students go outside the classroom and learn from experiences to learn more.