Kalapi Dutta’s Global Links Journey

Kalapi Dutta; Global Links Changemaker –

If I were to chronicle my 2 weeks stay at Florida, then: Day-1, from landing at MCO till crashing to bed that very night would be a vague recollection of moments where the only part I can remember is me having a broad smile across my face the entire day. Well, the best memories are statistically proven to be the ones you can’t remember.

That’s the kind of high one can get out of excitement. Had it not been for the photos and the digitized tokens from that day which I watched later, I wouldn’t have had a recollection of a single thing that happened in those few hours. That’s how I would like to describe my Global Links Phase – III – euphoric.

We were warned beforehand of jetlag but I guess the term jetlag seemed like a myth for I never felt any more energized than how I did on my first day at Orlando. That’s how I would like to describe my Global Links Phase-III – exhilarating.

All the exposure that we got has been an absolute learning experience. Community to culture to classroom; everything was different and it’s exciting to learn something different, something new.

People say you get culture shock when you travel to a different country. I say I got culture surprises.

In India, even just smiling at strangers on the road would be the last thing I would ever do; while in the US, you are always greeted with smiling faces anytime and every time of the day. A smiling face is often followed by ‘Have a nice day’ and the number of times you hear that in a day, you actually have a nice day.

As a student the classroom culture has impacted me the most. The classroom environment is more of learning and sharing. In those two weeks we got the chance to attend classes of both undergraduate courses and MBA courses at Rollins College and for each of these classes students are provided with new topics on any global issue for which they are supposed to work in groups and prepare short notes or report on that given topic in the class. Even though we were visiting students, we could actively participate in those classes given the fact that we were also given the study materials just like the other students, in the class or the day before the class. It’s not just the students who prepare for their classes but the teachers also prepare presentations for each of their classes. There are a lot of group activities in class; group activities in its truest sense where students actually contribute in a group. They even conduct team meetings before any such class and post-class the students individually send feedback to the professors about that particular activity.

Being an undergrad student, the hint of achievement that still excites me is that I got to attend classes of the MBA program, classes like International Marketing and Leadership. The interesting part is that we had an opportunity to give presentations on our Indian market at a US classroom!

Apart from attending classes, we participated in various events at Rollins College like the Rethinking Fashion event which was a fashion show where we were to wear sustainable clothes. We took part in a competition called Ideas for Good where we had to pitch our own business ideas having a social good. We had a day for community service where we worked at the grocery department of an organization called United Against Poverty where we arranged shelves, worked at the counter and helped the customers.  All these were learning experiences.

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Visiting Tupperware Brands World Headquarters will always be a memorable day. While we thought we had to put up our best formal behavior, arriving there we forgot everything for we had such a welcoming reception and everyone seemed so excited and everyone wanted to listen to our stories. We got to meet the CEO who spared his time for us! It was a remarkable fun filled day.

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In a foreign country we got a home away from home and a family who accepted us in a way where we could never tell that even a month ago we were strangers to them. Staying with host families exposed us to the American culture. In those two weeks our lifestyle changed completely or I could say that we adapted to the American style of living.

Lastly, everyone we met and talked to had something to share with us. Some shared with us knowledge, some shared inspirational life stories, some inspired us with their positive words while someone’s presence was enough to spread positive vibes, again some always tried to bring out the best in us. Some were always one step ahead to help us in any way possible while some helped us enjoy our free times. Some we loved seeing everyday while others we missed seeing daily. Those two weeks would not have been so special if not for the people whom we had met there and who created an impact on us.

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In one of my previous blog posts I had written “Will it be inappropriate to say that I was waiting for you (Global Links) all this while?” and if I were to sum up my entire Global Links journey I could rightfully say that I still remember the days I wished for what I have now.

To our next batch of Global Links Volunteers:

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Something that I can assure you is that by the end of your Phase – II, you will start using pronouns in the first person plural instead of first person singular. That’s what Global Links has taught us and will eventually teach you – “it is not about me, it is always about us.”

While you embark on your journey with Global Links, with the amazing opportunities that you are about to get, a little piece of senior insight- some of the best days are about to come.

You are here  to work for the community. Even though you will help develop the community, it will help in your development. Global Links is a give and take process and even before you realize it you will find a remarkable growth in yourself.

I won’t say that everything is easy out there and raise your hopes because nothing great is all smooth. A success story without hurdles is like Harry Potter movies without Voldemort. It just doesn’t feel right. So yeah, there will be challenges while working with your client, some things might not go as planned, you might have to cope with the deadlines and your academics alongside but trust me what you are about to get out of it is more than you could ever imagine.

I won’t give out much details about Phase – II because now it’s your journey and you’ve got to explore it. Telling everything before hand ruins the excitement of the situation and I don’t want to play the spoilsport because I want you to discover what Global Links has in store for you while you move ahead. You can thank me later!

Nevertheless you will find a mentor in us and you have your scholar who will guide you throughout and you will meet some other people too who will help you in your Global Links journey.

Remember, Global Links isn’t a competition and Phase – III isn’t a trophy. All you 2017-18 volunteers, you are in it together. Global Links isn’t for one, it’s for all. Its success lies in all working as one. It took a lot of hearts and efforts and passion and dedication to make Global Links into what it is today. Now it’s you who will be carrying this great responsibility. So go, make yourself proud!

 

Sreedipta’s Global Links Journey

One of our Global Links changemakers, Sreedipta Dhar Choudhury, has written an essay about her journey with Global Links and her experiences during Phase II and III of the Program.  Her Phase II experience is recounted here.

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The seed of the Global Links Programme was implanted into my wide horizon of understanding and ingrained in my mind by Dr. Sharmistha Banerjee, an erudite person. My knowledge of the Programme began in Monday morning seminar and over time it blossomed into a fruit bearing tree of knowledge, contributed by the wisdom of revered Dr. Banerjee. I was empowered with mental strength from my mentor. The faculty of thought bloomed in my mind by the unwavering support extended to me by Rakhi Di, the social entrepreneur I had the privilege of working with. She opened different avenues of thinking to me and the process was unparalleled and reciprocal.

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While in Calcutta, I was blessed by the support of the Global Links Family who actively helped to heighten my imagination and translate the concept into a reality as per my capability could go. It was an endless inspiration for me to move ahead in concept building and transform the acquired knowledge in the world of reality.

The Global Links Programme has exposed me to incredibly insightful changemakers and widened my concept of social entrepreneurship. It has inspired me to create a thriving global network of changemaker campuses and to solve global challenges through effective changemaking.” While working on the lines of social entrepreneurship, my talented and inspiring Global Links Team and I learned about the 4 important E’s which are:

  • Entrprenuership
  • Empathy
  • Encouragement
  • Empowerment

My first opening as joint entrepreneur created in my mind the essence of togetherness to develop business on a stable foundation while working with my assigned entrepreneur, Rakhi Di. Challenges were immense when it came to marketing her business’ plush toys, graphic designing, maintaining proper financial records, and managing waste scrap.

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Despite the difficulties, my Global Links Team inspired and taught me to not discard our highest ideals during difficult times but to rise up to meet them, to rise up to perfect our union. We rise up to defend our blessings of liberty, to embody the values of equality, opportunity and sacrifice. There were times when it was extremely difficult to get a breakthrough into the retail market and only after doing several rounds of the marketplace we got our desired results. These experiences taught me the value and importance of team work and perseverance.

I also had many incredibly satisfying achievements and experiences through Global Links. Imparting knowledge of financial statements and teaching my client to keep records all by herself was extremely rewarding. Another achievement for the Global Links team was getting married woman back to work after counselling them and their in-laws. One of the most satisfying experiences from Global Links was receiving invitations for tea at the US Consulate along with our families and meeting the Consul General who knew each of us by our names and our work.

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It was finally the 26th of October and all the hard work paid off. I was selected along with 4 of my fellow Global Links Changemakers for the immersion programme at Rollins College. I still remember the inexplicable feeling of my name being announced!

Sreedipta’s story about her Phase III experience will be continued in a future post.

Global Links program scholar highlighted in Span Magazine

Shaping of a Social Entrepreneur

Sharmistha Banerjee, first Global Links program scholar from India, shares how the exchange program helped strengthen her commitment toward improving women’s lives.


She was an enthusiastic girl scouts member in school. This interest in community work percolated into her philosophy in the workfield too, as Sharmistha Banerjee, professor in the Department of Business Management at the University of Calcutta, continued to work to enhance opportunities for women in small enterprises. Banerjee is the first scholar from India to participate in the Global Links women entrepreneurship exchange program. This gave a further boost to her interests and commitments.

Founded in 2011, the Global Links program is a collaborative effort of the U.S. Secretary of State’s Office of Global Women’s Issues, Rollins College in Florida and Tupperware Brands. It is a three-phase program for women professors in developing and post-conflict countries to foster their social entrepreneurship knowledge and skills. (Full article)