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Andrew Hoffman '12
Why do you want to serve as an International Ambassador at Santa Clara University?
Studying abroad was, so far, the best experience I've had at Santa Clara. I certainly consider it a vital component of my education, especially as a business major. I'd love to help other students figure out if spending five months in India is right for them. It certainly is not something for everyone.
What were the deciding factors in choosing your study abroad program-location?
I knew from the start I didn't want to go to a particularly accessible destination, leaving me with the large portion of the world that's considered developing. I had read enough about India and wanted to see its growth, culture, strengths and weaknesses first hand. As a practical consideration, the language of instruction was English, they offered at least some business courses and offered dormitory style housing.
Describe a defining moment in your abroad experiences and how that experience(s) has affected you personally, intellectually, vocational, spiritually, or academically.
While in Mumbai, I visited the dhobi ghat. The dhobi ghat is an expansive outdoor laundry facility that cleans a significant amount of the city's dirty laundry. Hundreds of laborers performed the physically demanding task of manually washing laundry in uncomfortable heat and humidity. In the background, a skyscraper was nearing completion. That scene ratified every theoretical promise of the global market helping the developing world. I knew that someday, probably in my lifetime, I'd be able to return to that site and see the dhobi ghat as just a tourist museum. I'd love to be the businessman that offers such people employment in more lucrative and less onerous fields, as many eventually will. For really the first time, I saw business and society not in competing, but cooperative, roles.
What advises, recommendations would you give to prospective study abroad students? In retrospect, how would you prepare differently to maximize the study abroad experience?
I did only precursory preparations for Indian culture. I also would have tried to set my expectations closer to the levels poverty I was about to encounter. Before leaving, I thought only of the "new" India -- new skyscrapers and modern IT research campuses. This was not my first time in the developing world, but poverty in Peru seems lavish compared to poverty in India. I'd also try to come to the realization that not everything would work it should in my mind. Coming to accept India's different culture and seemingly insurmountable bureaucracy was something I was still working on while I boarded my plane back to the US. In the beginning, it was a source of daily frustration and outrage.