A Journey of a Thousand Miles

“A journey of a thousand miles begins with a single step” -Lao Tzu

My name is Arundipta Roy and I am a Global Links Volunteer for 2017-18. In this blog, I would like to share my Global Links Journey so far with Mrs. Sipra Nandi, my entrepreneur. To start with, the first thing that needs to be mentioned is that my entrepreneur is the senior most in our team and even at the age of seventy, she takes on the daunting challenges associated with managing her business single handedly. I must confess that I am in awe of this exceptional lady.

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Supported by her loving family, she utilizes her free hours productively and strives towards financial independence, braving her heart ailments to carry on her business for as long as she can. She is an inspiration to all women and I am proud to be there to witness her drive and passion, to learn from her, and to help her as much as I can in every possible arena where she needs guidance or knowledge. Also, I must mention that I have seldom come across a gentler soul and I truly admire her spirit for it.

My journey so far has been an enlightening one. I acquired firsthand experiences regarding what a business looks like, how it is managed, what are the problems faced in a business, and how to tackle those problems, among many other valuable lessons. The Global Links program has been immensely helpful as it has taught me new things, inculcated new perspectives, and helped me take on endeavors I never knew I could.

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In this journey, I was able to meet so many wonderful people, get to know them, and learn from them. A few of those people include my teachers Rumpa Ma’am, Abira Ma’am and Anusri Ma’am, my entrepreneur, Mrs. Sipra Nandi, my peers and many more wonderful people like Dr. Mary Conway Dato-on, Yasmin, and Michelle who are all an integral part of this beautiful initiative called Global Links. I should also mention that my fellow volunteers are a treat to be with. Their tremendous drive and perseverance is mind boggling and in turn they motivate me to give my 110%.

 

My entrepreneur has taught me many things. She taught me that you can do anything if you really want to and that age is just a number. Change is not an easy thing, but my entrepreneur is not daunted by change. She is willing to step in the world of technology, about which she knows nothing, to better her business and even expand it. Very few people will venture into the unknown head first, especially at her age and that is why Mrs. Nandi’s compassion is worth applauding. She really is an inspiration to all willing to empower themselves and quite boldly goes to show that Old certainly is Gold.

When I was asked to write a blog about my Global Links Journey, I thought it was the perfect opportunity to express my gratitude to each and every person related to this wonderful initiative as my journey became meaningful because of their participation and support. Thank you for letting me be a part of such an amazing journey!

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Story of a Lifetime

Pooja Das, Global Links Volunteer

I would love to share my personal experience with Global Links programme. Since last year, it had been my dream to become a volunteer in Global Links, and now I got the wonderful opportunity to be a part of it. Through this programme, I came to know about how they are helping or empowering the underprivileged women over various modes. I have been paired with a great entrepreneur, named Mrs. Mallika Bhattacharya, who is the founder and director of Raka Crafts Welfare Society (RCWS), an NGO associated with handicrafts.

Since 2007, Mrs. Bhattacharya has established her own business by her own work. RCWS has 400 underprivileged women in its fold who develop handicraft products and make a livelihood out of them.  She deals with a wide range of businesses from making handicraft products to dealing with tourism. Besides being an enthusiastic entrepreneur, she is also a mentor and trainer in Enterprise Development Institute (EDI) and working hard for women empowerment.

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Her life story is generic yet unique. She said by her own mouth that “Survival, I have learnt, is not always for food and shelter but more often for dignity. My existential struggle and subsequent journey towards empowerment was for dignity as an individual and as a woman.” I would like to share her life story from her own mouth.

Mrs. Bhattacharya’s life was simple until she got married and resided in Hind-motor in 2004, a small town in Hooghly district of West Bengal. She was solely responsible for managing the household, as soon as her mother-in-law died.  The whole situation left her helpless and time loomed large in front of her like a vast canvas but she has nothing to paint in it.

Despite of being in that situation she proved herself as the most powerful woman and she has become a living example for everyone. She has started with her training and pursued many skills courses which helped in developing her. She underwent various developmental programs in weaving, crafting, embroidery, and in travel and tourism. The quest of learning pulled her up in this platform. Now her life has taken a new dimension in which I have also became a part of. Her mother is helping her out by taking care of her two children and the rest of the household.

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Apart from helping my entrepreneur to enhance her business I have been able to put together many new networks. I am very happy that being so busy in her daily life she entertains me to the fullest and it really feels very nice when I heard that I would be able to conduct one photo shoot session in Amazon for her products and sell through e-commerce.  She has been awarded for participation in a lot of social work. Through this wonderful opportunity, I promise to reach out and help the other less privileged women in society.

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Voyage Jusqu’ici

Sohini Roy, Global Links Volunteer 

The first time I came across Global Links was when the previous year’s selected 12 students were giving their final presentation in the University of Calcutta, Alipore Campus, in front of the then U.S. Public Relations Officer, Mr. Greg Pardo. I was mesmerized by the work they had done and the immense effort they had put to make it a success in their own ways. The fact that the top five students would get to go to Rollins College for two weeks was even more captivating.

I was disappointed when I realized that such program never came to our school, Shri Shikshayatan College, which made me ask my teacher why that was the case. I remember her saying “Probably this year it will come.” After a few days we got to know that she, our very own Rumpa Ma’am, was set to go to Rollins College, Florida for six months as their scholar. I was filled with pride as well as excitement.

My friends and I made up our minds to apply for this program and had sheer determination to do everything to be one of the students who gets to go to Florida. Six months later when Ma’am came back, our journey with Global Links started with an orientation programme. From helping organize it to actually applying for it, my heart raced the entire time. Getting to know Dr. Conway, Yasmin, and Michelle was cherry on top.

Although clearing the first round was an achievement in itself, my heart pounded when I got the mail of my selection for the second phase of the programme as well. I realized in that very moment about the tricky road ahead of us. It is not easy, especially when I have to get out of my comfort zone and deal with various situations that I normally would have dodged.

The day finally arrived when I would get to meet the entrepreneur with whom I would be working. The first important thing that I was told to do in this programme was to build a good and strong rapport with my entrepreneur to make things go as smoothly as possible. A number of questions came across my mind during the car ride- from Benayak’s entrepreneur’s house to mine. “How is she? Is she friendly? Will she make things that difficult for me like Kalapi and others said they usually do? Do I really want to do this? Am I ready for this?”

Before I could find the answers for the last two questions, I was already at her house with Abira Ma’am, Anushree Ma’am, Sarah, and Benayak. There was no turning back from this moment onwards because there is no way I am going to give up once I start this journey. Then I was introduced to my entrepreneur Rina Dutta; standing in front of me with so many questions in her eyes and that made me a bit more nervous.

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Although the teachers did the initial introduction and my job was to just listen, it made me quite anxious about my second field visit which I had to do alone. During the second visit I tried to familiarize with Mrs. Dutta’s business. She has been associated with the NGO Argho for quite a few years now and has been selling her products through the organization. She specializes in making handmade bags using macramé, jewellery and soft toys.

When I met her, she did not have any business of her own and used to work on orders that were given to her by Argho. Although there are a lot of hurdles in her personal life, she was thinking about starting her own business for a long time, other than selling things through this organization and participating in fairs. Till then she would require my help to show her new designs and things made using macramé, improve her spoken English and guide her with all the things she needs to do and remember while opening her business such as setting the price of the products, accounts handling, delivery options etc.

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I started focusing on these things and began with her English lessons during the third visit. Although she has some basic knowledge in English, she finds it difficult to understand the meaning of a sentence properly and speak fluently with correct pronunciations. By my sixth field visit, I have successfully helped her in starting her own business by creating a Facebook page- “Kumkum Creations” and we are in the initial stages of our promotion.

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I have contacted Biswa Bangla officials hoping to get a chance to present Rina Dutta’s work to their marketing department. Biswa Bangla is one of the biggest platforms in West Bengal to showcase the talents of emerging entrepreneurs like Mrs. Dutta. We have received a date for meeting them with some of her products. As I got to know her more, I learnt that although she receives no financial or emotional support from her family regarding her business, she does not believe in giving up on her dreams. Her positive approach towards her life makes me want to work even harder to help her achieve her dreams.

Even if I do not get to go to the next level of the programme, it’s an absolute pleasure working with Global Links and I will cherish this journey all my life.

Braving the Odds

Soumita Mondal, Global Links Volunteer 

“Wow! This could be great, if it works out,” is what I told myself after the introductory seminar by Dr. Rumpa Chakraborty was concluded. I was with several others volunteers, young people, mostly teenagers like myself, who were taking part in the Global Links programme. Dr. Chakraborty was introducing us to a whole new world, and along with it, giving us an opportunity of a lifetime.

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On September 25, 2017 Global Links Team introduced me to my entrepreneur, Ms. Sudipta Mondal. She is a beautician by profession, who runs her own beauty parlour in Kolkata’s Ray Bahadur Road. Following the first couple of interactions, in hindsight, I found Sudipta di (an endearing term for an elderly sister) as a very talented worker and one can hardly doubt her ability, but the same cannot be said about her administrative skills though. Among other undesirable things, she fails to maintain her account. And so, it began…my quest to bring about a change in her and hopefully help an aspirant make it big.

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Sudipta di had always dreamt of becoming a professional beautician and start her own parlour. At the initial stage, her family wasn’t supportive, but she braved it all and completed her beautician courses, in the meantime winning their vote of confidence. After working in the field for nearly a decade, she decided it was time for her to realise her long cherished, yet suppressed dream. Thoughts were converted into actions and thus Fancy Beauty Parlour was conceived. The facility opened its doors last year. But all was not well.

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As discussed earlier, she has a bad habit of not keeping records and slowly it developed claws and teeth, biting into her accounts.  I tried to make her understand that running a business requires more than just knowing the craft. It is essential to keep a record of accounts and stocks on a regular basis. I helped her to learn – how to maintain a cash book, calculating discount figures and percentages. We have just started with English lessons also.

I advised her against any major campaign, keeping in mind her financial condition. However, I encouraged her to do it via ‘Word of Mouth’, which is suitable for her, physically and monetarily. We shared ideas and I suggested her to be a bit warmer towards their clients and create a homely atmosphere, which according to me is a key factor in the hospitality business. Suggestions included greeting the clients warmly, being more pleasant in appearance, welcoming them with a smile, offering them refreshments and trying to make them feel special.

We prepared a Diwali Package, from which the business is getting a warm response. The entire team has started working on the Bridal package which is yet to be framed. Since she wanted to advertise through print media, we visited an office requesting them to distribute leaflets with the newspaper and they replied that they will contact us soon.

Sudipta di is a very positive minded person and performs her work with great enthusiasm and energy. I have learnt from her that the zeal to achieve goals can never be crushed. I am working to play a small part in her struggle and make it count. I hope to improve her business and make her life better.

Sullivan Ignite Retreat

Claudia DeFabio

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My experience at the Sullivan Ignite Retreat two weeks ago was nothing short of life changing. As a Social Entrepreneurship and Business major, I had knowledge on abstract concepts in this sector, but I was longing for a practical application of these tools in action. Throughout the weekend I met likeminded students from diverse colleges, which reaffirmed my identity as a changemaker on Rollins’ campus. I workshopped the “yes, and” approach for brainstorming, what makes for a good pitch to investors, and learned more about myself as a member of the social entrepreneurship community. 

 

I set my intention for the weekend to answer the question, “What do I want to do with my life?” and confidently can say that I achieved this goal. While talking to one of the facilitators, Chad, over lunch on the second day, I realized that I identify best with intrapreneurship. As opposed to entrepreneurship, which calls for an individual to create their own venture, intrapreneurship is when an individual forms their own position in an existing organization. During this conversation I could feel the fog begin to clear and understand that intrapreneurship, specifically in Corporate Social Responsibility, is where my passion and purpose intersect. 

 

I am incredibly grateful for the opportunity from Rollins to attend this retreat, as I not only learned more about the social entrepreneurship sector, but also gained more self-awareness and confidence than I ever imagined. I can’t wait to see how my future experiences build on the tools I gained at the Sullivan Ignite Retreat. 

Empower A Woman To Empower All Of Mankind

Nadeem Akhtar, Global Links Volunteer

Margaret Sanger once said, “Woman must not accept; she must challenge. She must not be awed by that which has been built up around her; she must reverence that woman in her which struggles for expression.” The journey of a woman towards the path of empowerment is not always a walk in the park. Most of the time it is filled with hurdles and obstacles at each turn. However, overcoming these hurdles and achieving the desired goals is what makes this journey a fascinating one. After joining the Global Links programme, I am honoured to be a part of one such journey with my Entrepreneur Mrs. Mousumi Dey. I hope with my support, her sharing of knowledge with me and through our mutual understanding of each other, we both will benefit moving towards progress.

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I first came to know about Global Links Programme last year, through my friend Shirsita Banerjee, who a Changemaker for the session 2015-17. After knowing about the programme, I was very much inspired with the work that Global Links does. It kindled up my interest to become a part of this because this programme is not something very common in our daily academics. Global Links organized a competition for students of different colleges and university here in my city of joy, Kolkata. I did not waste any time and enrolled my name in all the categories of writing an essay, making a poster, visiting an NGO and interviewing, and creating a video. It was an amazing experience altogether and it started my journey with Global Links. I was the only student that had participated in all the categories and it felt great to be part of something like this.

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It is said if you want something from your heart and full dedication, you will surely get it. Global Links Programme invited applications for new students for working with women entrepreneurs and spreading the concept of social entrepreneurship in my community. I attended a few workshops and strived to work hard. And one fine day received a mail from our scholar Dr. Rumpa Chakraborty that I am a part of those 30 volunteers who will work and experience real life business challenges. It was a great feeling, something I was waiting for. After a few days I got to know that I will be working with my Entrepreneur, Mrs Mousumi Dey residing at Picnic Garden and my first meet was finalized to be on 25th August.

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I was really excited and eager. I won’t deny I was also a bit nervous regarding how to start, what to talk during the initial few days. I have met with Global Links volunteers and changemakers in the workshops, and heard their stories. Will I be able to be work well like them? These things were going on in my mind. On the day of visit, I was accompanied by Abira Madam and Anusri Madam and their support helped me gain the confidence and believe that I also can. I was introduced to Mrs. Dey and I got to know about her business a little bit. She does handicraft work, makes jewellery, batik work and does hand work on cloth material. The first meet was very good and I was determined to try my level best to help her in whatever way possible.

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I had few more meetings with my entrepreneur and we had spoken about the business and future agenda. I started understanding the areas where I needed to work and help the business to grow. Mrs. Dey whom I call “Didi” said “Nadeem, I need do some help regarding my Facebook Page. How to add the review option in my page?” I was glad she had finally opened up and asked for my help. This showed a sign that she has started trusting me. I helped her with her Facebook page and opened an Instragram account so she can advertise her products. We also talked about how to enlist her business on Justdial, which is an online search service website. In this way, I had built a rapport with her and gained her trust and faith on me. I have tried my best to help her in all regards and she is very happy working with me. During my conversation with her she said, “You are like my younger brother; you can talk to me like you are talking to your elder sister.” We are like a part of family now who help each other to overcome any problem.

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The journey of my Global Links programme till now has been exciting and wonderful.  Each day I am learning something new from my entrepreneur, and Abira Mam’s, Asusri Mam’s and Rumpa Madam’s guidance and support have been helpful in smoothing my journey. I am also grateful to the NGO Argho for giving us the chance to help these entrepreneurs. Through future interactions, meetings and seminars I look forward to learning more. Neil Armstrong when landed on the moon said “That’s one small step for man, one giant leap for mankind”. Empowerment of a woman is one such step. After all, empowering and educating a woman is not less than landing on the moon. Through my small efforts and steps if I can empower Didi then it will a giant leap for all of mankind and humanity. It will help her acquire the skills and most importantly give her confidence so she had take independent decisions regarding her business. Keeping faith on each other we can to move forward that target goal and do our best to achieve them.

 

 

Beautiful Minds Inspire Others

Ritika Das, Global Links Volunteer

I am Ritika Das, a Global Links volunteer. I am thankful to Global Links that they have given me the chance to work with a real life entrepreneur. Meeting her I got to know that people can achieve anything with hard work. I feel privileged that I met her. I came to know her struggle and her journey towards a successful woman entrepreneur. Now, I am narrating her story. She is Mrs Sulakshana Purakayastha running her business (name- Sreejita’s Collections). She is manufacturer and seller of handicraft products.

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Her daily life was all about working as a medical representative from morning 9am to 9pm at night. All her time she devoted in her work and earning money. Neglecting her family and her small daughter she worked hard for her dream. Her dream was to become a successful woman entrepreneur. She joined her every penny that she had earned by working day and night. Finally a small spark in her life came when she bought a small shop with her every penny that she saved. Fighting with every hurdle and overcoming the challenges she ultimately nailed it. It was her first step towards her dream.

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She just knew that she has to work hard to be a successful entrepreneur and for that she was ready to take up any challenges, she was ready to face any kind of risk, if she fails in one idea she will implement another and start again. A woman having such an enthusiasm can never stop. After buying that showroom she started getting herself trained. She went to an institution whose name is “Object D’Art” where she got training for three months in making costume jewelry then got herself connected to an NGO named EDI where she got training in making jute products. And then slowly she started grabbing success. Her dream is gradually becoming true.

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She started her business, making new and innovative designs. Connecting to the real business world and selling her products online to various parts in India specially Mumbai, Delhi and Bangalore. Now her business is running like a smooth machine. She is improving her work and taking her business to another level. She has her online website, Facebook page, and she is connected with Kraftly and World Art Community (WAC) where we can buy her costume jewelry. She worked hard for her dream. She always says that- she never dreamt for success, she worked for it. This is her key secret of becoming a successful woman entrepreneur.

First Marketing Deal

Arpita Mondal, Global Links Student Volunteer 

On 30.08.17, the Global Links Team introduced me to my entrepreneur, Nisha Chetri. On that day I got the opportunity to equip myself with loads of information about her and her business. Nisha Chetri is a young woman of age 31 who runs a Chinese fast food center jointly with her husband. She is quite efficient in her work.

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When I visited her the second time, I clearly felt that she was not able to earn enough profit to run her business due to many reasons including bad location, less preference for Chinese food, wrong target consumers, prevailing competition, and financial barriers. Her shop also lacks popularity and there were a lot of people unaware about its existence. So the first and foremost step was printing leaflets and distributing them to as many offices as possible. I even visited an office named Advertising bureau and consultants requesting them to distribute leaflets with the newspapers and their response to the proposal was that they’ll think about it and contact me soon.

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Since her shop is located inside a court premises which remains closed during Pujas, I thought of seeking permission from nearby club authorities so that she can set up stalls for those 4 festive days. This idea could not be executed because the amount of rent charged was more than or equal to Rs. 5000 which was unaffordable for Nisha Chetri.

Nisha Chetri individually wants to run a business other than the fast food shop in order to add to family income independently. In order to help her, I started looking for small commercial shops by hiring brokers. Two shops near her residential area could be spotted, with monthly rents being between Rs. 3500 and Rs. 6000. The shop which was very nearby to her area was for Rs. 3500 and deposit was Rs. 25000, so we decided to visit the shop and if everything goes well then it could be finalized. Unfortunately, after visiting the shop we came to the conclusion that it cannot fetch good income as the area was almost deserted.

Thinking on other aspects, I realized that since courts remain closed on Sundays, income of Nisha on the Sundays are completely nil. Thus, being a Christian child I tried to contact Pastors so that Nisha could be allowed to set up a stall after church gets dismissed. If this idea works out, she would have good income as church is a place where youths go jointly and they generally like having Chinese cuisine.

By the time I had my third field visit with Nisha Chetri, I also kept requesting for orders as food samples in offices. One day I visited an office to try the idea. Having good terms with the boss helped me a lot but I had to request convincingly to get the order. The first order that I managed to get for Nisha was for 90 momos at a price slightly higher than the usual rate on 18.09.17. On the said date I went there for the delivery after collecting the packages from Nisha. She had no delivery boy and this order couldn’t be missed so I took the initiative to deliver it by myself.

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The office managers were very pleased with the service and cleanliness and the quality of the food delivered. The best part was that Nisha Chetri completely avoided using ajinamoto as a response to my appeal. Though this was the first order through me, she also received orders from our Global Links Mam during the debriefing session. Hence to conclude I gave my 100% to please the office managers and I will continue with it in the future and looking forward to some more good deals down the line. 

Social Entrepreneurship is the new black.

Valerie Camille

Earlier this year I was invited to sit at Crummer’s table during the Runway to Haiti event (most likely for being a Haitian citizen myself). I had never heard of the term Social Entrepreneurship until then, and walking out of the event I still didn’t know what it meant until recently.

A couple of months ago, I found the opportunity to work alongside some of Orlando’s best and brightest social entrepreneurs.

How, you may ask?

Well, I am currently working as a Graduate Assistant for Dr. Conway Dato-On on putting together, and launching the Central Florida Social Entrepreneurship Accelerator (http://cflsea.com) .

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This Accelerator’s mission is to “create positive social change by propelling qualified social entrepreneurs to build their ideas into self-sustainable ventures within our community.”

What is so amazing about this experience is the customized and tailored guidance provided to each participant. The entrepreneurs will be able to work one on one with mentors, and get personalized feedback on a multitude of topics and issues (accounting, marketing, legal…)  At the end of the program, each will deliver a pitch to investors, and the winner will receive a minimum investment of $25,000.

We will start working with the first cohort of social entrepreneurs early September, and I cannot wait! I am looking forward to interacting, and working with individuals who are so passionate about solving social issues, and are willing to go out of their way to create a business that provides solutions to these problems.

I have read stories about social entrepreneurs who travel the globe to face those social issues, leave the comfort of their daily lives, and are not afraid to get their hands dirty to fight against poverty, hunger, analphabetism, to fight for education, and women rights. These inspiring social entrepreneurs dedicate their lives for the betterment of others’.

During my time interacting with Dr. Conway Dato-on, Ben Hoyer from Downtown Credo, and Shawn Seipler from Clean the world (among others) I have had a lot of “ah-ha” moments and was fortunate enough discover my true passion, and what I really “want to do when I grow up.”

As I mentioned before, I was born and raised in Port-Au-Prince, Haiti, and I cannot think of a better place to pick one of the many social issues we are facing, and attempt to create a movement for social change. I am fortunate enough to be evolving in such a nurturing and enriching environment. I shared my ideas with a couple of the connections I have made, and was rapidly referred to others in the community who could help me and guide me in the right direction.

Most trends come and go, they get hyped and then slowly fade away. Social entrepreneurship is getting a lot of buzz, but there are way too many things to be done in the world for it go anywhere anytime soon. Keep an eye out for those new social entrepreneurs, they are changing the world one issues a time. These are the cool kids, and they are here to stay!

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!