Kent State Executive MBA International Business Experience in India: A Student Perspective

It's hard to understand a place until you've been there. Indeed, this is the simple, singular truth that lies at the core of Kent State University's Executive MBA international business experience. You can learn about a place in a classroom. You can look at facts and figures, customs and heritage and all the wild differences that exist between your culture and the one being dissected, but you only come to know what makes you similar by going, experiencing and existing in that space for yourself. Suffice to say, the 2015 Executive MBA India trip was just that; a phenomenal experience that gave us more than education by way of adventure, but also a firm understanding of the relationship between business and personal growth.

To fully understand my meaning, you need to know that India is not only vibrant, it's alive. It is an explosion of sight, sound, scent and splendor. It is honking horns that ring in your head even once you've reached a quiet solace. It is motion, often by way of a bus-top roof or the furthest edge of a scooter seat. It is the scent of naan and curry mixed with cardamom and jasmine, all overtop the not-so-subtle influence of exhaust fumes. It is people, so many people. A pulsing, racing, smiling, brilliant and wondrous mass of people building their lives in an increasing state of harmonious chaos, happy to accept it for what it is.

It is in that moment of realization, when you're immersed in it all, that you understand why business exists. Business in India is not simply the exchange of goods and services, it is the pulse that propels all this life swirling around you; it is the flow of values, beliefs and dreams encapsulated into one word.

Yet, for all the remarkable things we learned about India, it was how much we learned about us that mattered most. That subtle way a life of routine can make you feel as if the way you're doing things is the only way it should be done was happily shaken loose. The fear of stepping out of our own grooves for the allure of the unknown was dispelled. We drank the water. We ate the food. We hung out of taxis at the risk of life and limb. We haggled, we hugged, and we went running from and curiously back to things we never thought we could endure. We survived. No, we did more than that; we thrived!

When we came home, it was a different place – not because it had been reshaped in our absence, but because we had been reshaped. Our gemstone trinkets and hard-haggled silk scarves were nothing compared to our expanded sense of self. How they do things was no longer a sterile fact to regurgitate on a paper, or toss idly out during water cooler chats. It was now how we did things. And, more to the point, it was how much we looked forward to doing those things again.

- Dirk Hayhurst

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