In the Mysore, India Externship Semester, Fellows have an opportunity to live, study and work in Mysore, India for one semester while earning credit toward their MPA. This program focuses specifically on development management and is ideal for those Fellows who are concentrating their studies in either International Development or Public and Nonprofit Management. Participants enroll in a minimum of two courses and engage in an 8 to 10 week internship, facilitated by the Swami Vivekananda Youth Movement (SVYM). Anna Marella Lagrotta, ‘16 shares her externship experience.
During my semester in India I did an internship in Grassroots Research and Advocacy Movement, an initiative of Swami Vivekananda Youth Movement (SVYM), which focuses on public policy research. In addition, I took two courses at SVYM’s Institute for Leadership Development: Microfinance & Microenterprise and Development of Indigenous Communities.
My internship experience was incredible because I had the opportunity to work directly with Dr. Balu, the president and founder of SVYM, on a research project on the linkages between microfinance programs and the formation of human and social capital. The research project itself included extensive literature review, creating a data collection tool, as well as fieldwork experience. We conducted interviews of indigenous and non-indigenous women members of microfinance groups in tribal areas and semi-urban villages. The fieldwork experience allowed me to learn about the impact of these groups, listen to these women’s stories, their hardships and lifestyle, and overall it allowed me to experience different sides of India.
The advantages of the coursework I chose was that it complemented my research project. I was also able to take classes with other Indian students, which immersed me even more in their cultural practices. The combination between the internship and classes made it so that I participated in a vast number of activities during the semester, both professional and cultural. Mysore is a cultural city with a vast number of cultural events constantly occurring, yoga being one the main activities throughout the entire city. Plus, Mysore has been awarded “Cleanest City in India” three times. South Indian food overall is amazing and there are many places where you can have delicious food.
All in all, the externship semester is filled with opportunities to meet new people and visit cultural sites. It is an experience that forces you to look at things from different perspectives, which overall I think helps you grow both personally and professionally. My advice for others interested in the Mysore program is you have to be willing to get out of your comfort zone and stay open to new experiences because it is a program that gives you so much exposure and opportunity.
Anna is originally from Panama and her CIPA concentration was Economic and Financial Policy. She now works as a Financial Analyst for the Government of Panama in the Ministry of Economy & Finance.