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Taking the road less travelled

mumbai Updated: Sep 10, 2012 01:11 IST

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When democracy arrived in Egypt, Ritika Jain, 25, had a ringside view of history. In June, the country saw its first democratic elections. Jain, a recent graduate, was in Cairo on a six-week unpaid internship teaching English to refugees. She was also scouting around for photography assignments.

“It was a brilliant time,” said Jain, who got the internship through the student organisation AISEC. “I got to do photography, which was what I wanted. Teaching English was also a fulfilling experience.”

As economic opportunities open up in unexplored areas, students are following up on them.

A batch of 16 Mumbai University students returned last month from a flagship programme in Israel. The agri-business management students of the University’s Garware Institute spent 11 months literally tilling the land in the Promised Land.

Working with farmers in Israel, the students earned more than Rs. 5 lakh in all. “Israel is the land of innovation. It’s a small country, but highly developed,” said Vaibhav Pund, 24, who has a family farm and plans to set up his own guava processing plant in Ahmednagar district.

The university has announced that a second batch of students will leave in October.

At the Xavier Institute of Management Research in Dhobi Talao, an Indo-Vietnamese Studies Centre was launched in February. Since then, two students have been on internships with market research firms this year to Vietnam.

As part of a programme launched two years ago, the institute also sends students to Uganda and Kenya. Targeting these countries is part of the school’s focussed aim of aligning with India’s foreign policy practices.

“We feel these are the countries of the future. We don’t touch the US or Europe, we are looking at emerging markets. Our next step will be Myanmar and maybe Indonesia,” said KN Vaidyanathan, director of the institute.

Students get to experience both the business as well as the cultural practices of other nations owing to these internships. While some are through institutional arrangements, others are projects sourced through student networks. They are equally eye-opening, say students.

“It was a life-changing experience for me,” said Hiten Parmar, 21, a third year computer engineering student who worked in Mauritius for two months in the summer. “If you get a chance to work in another country, you should definitely take it.”