Whitman news since 1896

Whitman Wire

Vol. CLIV, Issue 5
Whitman news since 1896

Whitman Wire

Whitman news since 1896

Whitman Wire

For the love of India

Even though I’ve attended Whitman for a little over two years now, I still seriously question the practicality of a liberal arts education within today’s world. I often have moments of terror as to where my politics/sociology degree will take me after I’m beyond the walls of “Whitman’s bubble”.

Despite these brief moments of terror, I love the type of education I’ve been receiving at Whitman. And for the first time in my life, college has allowed me to realize that I go to school not for the sake of a grade, but because I truly enjoy learning.

Tonight, my “host cousin” came over for dinner and we had a lengthy conversation regarding my studies in India. We first started out with why I chose to study abroad in India. While this question, in itself, could and probably should have its own post, the short story is that I want to study abroad in a totally foreign area that I can’t feasibly see myself visiting in the future alone. Ten years down the road, with, hopefully a secure job and other commitments, the idea of trekking across India seems somewhat impossible.

After telling my cousin my plans for life after college, which I’ve told most people here, “I might go to law school” — a possibility, but certainly not the only path I’m restricting myself to, he asked the one question I’ve been dreading to hear, “How do your studies in India help you in your future career?” This question is so difficult for me to even comprehend, partly because I see my time in India as partly a study of culture and sustainable development, and partly a journey to some ambiguous maturity for me.

My studies with SIT are more easy to understand how they fit into my future — I’m just as interested in domestic policy in government as I am about international development and challenges abroad. Perhaps I might go into development work, perhaps I won’t, but I’m happy to know that I’ve expanded my knowledge on a subject I’m incredibly passionate about. Then comes the second part of my journey here, the ambiguous maturity that I feel I may be gaining by being here. Seeing and experiencing another culture has put my values, goals, and interests into perspective and in some way, I know that I’m different from when I stepped foot into India over a month ago. Cliche, I know, but relax, I by no means mean to emulate Elizabeth Gilbert from Eat Pray Love.

In short, what I told my host cousin was that by being here, I am growing to become a more confident individual and that by understanding another culture, I feel more able to take into context how my decisions may affect others either positively or negatively. While I may not know that I want to be a chemical engineer or a doctor by the age of 17 as a lot of well-educated Indian students are expected to know, I am the type of person who needs to prepare and study enough to have confidence to know I will be fully content with whatever I end up doing with the rest of my life.

As much as I may complain about the feasibility of a liberal arts education, I can liken my time in India as to learning for the love of learning — nothing I do in life will be a waste and will only contribute to my growth as an individual.

For more posts and pictures of my semester abroad in India with the SIT program, check out my personal blog here.

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