Global Links Changemakers Reflect on Immersion Program at Crummer

Indian students feel empowered and inspired after social entrepreneurship program.

For Phase 3, Global Links Scholar Dr. Rumpa Chakraborty brought five students from India with her to the United States to spend two weeks immersing themselves in a hands-on, in-depth business and social entrepreneurship experience.

Global Links was started in 2011, as a public-private partnership between Rollins College, Tupperware Brands, and the U.S. Secretary of State’s Office of Global Women’s Issues. The program sponsors female professors from developing and post-conflict nations to grow their entrepreneurial skills and knowledge.

The students selected to visit the United States were handpicked from a group of over 500 interested students from India. Called the “Changemakers”, the students completed an application phase and group activity phase, centered around social issues. During this time, the interested students were evaluated on their cooperativeness, friendliness and ability to work in teams.

From there, 30 students worked with entrepreneurs for five months, where they completed field visits, presentations and reports. In the end, after a 360-evaluation system, the top 5 students were selected to visit the United States with Dr. Chakraborty.

Dr. Chakraborty and the exclusive group of “Changemakers,” who were led by Global Links Faculty Advisor Dr. Mary Conway Dato-on, Program Manager Yasmin Mesbah ’18MBA and Graduate Assistant Gianna Hernandez, EAMBA 32, attended a variety of events including volunteering at Second Harvest Food Bank, making presentations at partner-organization Tupperware and having a formal dinner with Rollins College President Grant Cornwell.

Crummer News sat down with the Changemakers to ask about what they thought about the program and how it inspired them.

Dr. Mary Conway in India with Global Links

How has the Phase 3 Immersion Program changed you personally?

Arundipta Roy: I learned that I can do something to help someone and impact them in a better and positive way. When I got this opportunity, I said I have to hold on to it. I want to teach everyone around me what I have learned.

Ritika Das: This program made me decide that I may want to run my own business one day. I have learned the benefits of storytelling, relating that to customers and the target market in an emotional way. It has also really made me understand the value of social work in society.

Soumita Mondal: I was a very shy person who did not know how to communicate properly, now I have developed that. I have developed personal skills and presentation skills so I can do good for society. In this process I learned a lot and want to pay it forward in society. What I’ve learned in these two weeks I want to implement back home in India.

Sanchari Chaterjee: I wasn’t very confident before I started Global Links. I think Global Links helps you get over fears you have. We have people in our group who were really shy and introverted, but after Global Links, you have seen everyone end up having a great experience and go through a new self-development process.

Nadeem Ahktar: I’ve learned how to behave in a professional manner, I’ve learned how to explore new avenues, solve problems with solutions and get ideas. The professors taught me so many things, like how story-telling is an important tool for leadership. I’ve met so many community leaders along the way. I like that we have met so many people with the initiative to help, so that has been my big takeaway.

What was experiencing the ‘Crummer Family’ like?

Arundipta Roy: It was an amazing experience. This was my first time in the states and the first time for all of us. Everything is really new; the culture is different and everyone is so friendly. This school is amazing, the community is so sweet and small, and everyone knows everyone, which I really liked about this school.

Ritika Das: The United States is beautiful. I’ve talked with everyone. The different people I’ve talked to, from strangers to professors; it doesn’t really happen like this at home. Everyone here is so welcoming and so family oriented. It feels like everyone here, we’ve been friends with our whole lives.

Soumita Mondal: It’s so amazing here. I did not even think I would be experiencing so much, it’s like a community all-around. The professors here, everyone is so welcoming. They are always greeting us with a smile, so it’s been amazing.

Sanchari Chaterjee: Everything I’ve learned here has just really helped me. It has far exceeded my expectations and has made me a newer and better version of myself.

Nadeem Ahktar: I learned so many new things, met so many new people and learned so much about social entrepreneurship here, which isn’t big in our country. So, it has been a good experience. I’ve learned to play tennis here, I learned to play golf, I went to Universal Studios and even Cocoa Beach, so it’s been a lot of fun. There’s a lot of cultural differences here. People are much more familiar with each other here, they greet each other when just passing by a stranger, which is a good thing. In India, it’s a high population, so you can’t just stop and greet everyone.

As you complete Phase 3 of Global Links and head back to India, what is next for you?

Arundipta Roy: I want to go add valuation to society. If you are not developing society, the system will not develop.

Ritika Das: I’m going to take all these learnings and skills back home with me. I don’t really interact with people too much, so this has brought me a lot of change. I have learned so much from being in the USA, from Crummer, and through Tupperware. I am going to take this back home with an initiative to be involved in social work.

Soumita Mondal: I’m excited but I have mixed feelings, like I don’t know where to go from here. I have made amazing friends, met amazing professors and really enjoyed my homestay family. I’m pursuing my masters in accounting and finance, so in the future I do want to start my own business. I also really want to come back to the U.S. again;I would like to get a job here.

Sanchari Chaterjee: If I was given the opportunity I would continue doing this. I am planning to go back to India and implement the ideas of social entrepreneurship in business and build a bigger community. We don’t want this just to be India, but to include the USA and now Brazil. We just want to build a big community and change society.

Nadeem Ahktar: As the only male Changemaker (pursuing a Masters in Commerce), I learned guys need to step up and take initiative, because it helps them get empowered too. Women need empowerment, but if men themselves don’t take the initiative, then this process isn’t working the way it should be working.

Any closing thoughts on the experience itself?

Arundipta Roy: You don’t really get the opportunity much to help, but when you get the opportunity it’s hard to let go. It was an amazing experience.

Ritika Das: Yasmin and Gianna are amazing. I am here because of them, and without them, I couldn’t have done so much. The daily feedback from them on our daily reports and presentations has been amazing.

Soumita Mondal: Initially we thought since it was a graduate school we didn’t know how the professors would interact with us, but we found they are all very homely type of people. They really wanted to learn from us, about what we learned from Global Links and our culture.

Sanchari Chaterjee: I would ask all teenagers and the youth to come up and look for programs that provides opportunities like these. Try to make someone’s life better, when you see that smile at the end of the day, that makes it all worth it.

Nadeem Ahktar: My homestay family were lovely people they treated me like their own son. On the first day, my homestay father said I am his son for two weeks. Yasmin and Gianna have also been really good mentors, they have guided us throughout the process and have managed it really well.