Luddy students learned about Indian culture and technology on their visit to India.
A group of students from the Luddy School of Informatics, Computing, and Engineering spent part of their winter break outside the classroom, but they never stopped learning.
Eight students from the Department of Informatics and one from the Department of Computer Science traveled to Bangalore, India, in late December-early January to experience a different culture as well as learn about how the technology sector works outside of the United States. The trip was the second leg in a two-part class that saw the first eight weeks of the course focus on learning about India in Bloomington before experiencing all Bangalore had to offer during the trip.
“The students really got an appreciation for the different ways people live and exist in different parts of the world,” said Logan Paul, a lecturer at Luddy who was one of the co-instructors of the class. “They were able to see some similarities between how we interact with each other and how Indian people interact. The city might be different, and the street might be different, but the interactions are the same.”
The first half of the 12-day trip was spent sightseeing and visiting various cultural locations, such as temples, and bus tours provided expert guidance as the students explored. The second half of the trip was spent touring the offices of Infosys, a global leader in digital services and consulting, and visiting local universities, including the Indian Institute of Information Technologies.
The group discovered a different work and educational culture, as well as a passion for innovation and entrepreneurship.
“A lot of companies try to build campuses—essentially like American universities—where you go to work, and they have everything there you need,” Paul said. “There is a gym, child care, food… everything you need to keep you happy while you’re on the job. Some American companies do similar things, but it’s more prevalent in India. It also showed how advanced India is in terms of technology.”
The group stayed in Electronic City, the information technology hub and industrial park just outside Bangalore. The suburb features security and traffic cameras, and smart traffic lights, and during a visit to the management center, students were shown how the systems work and how researchers are using technology to try to solve some of the issues facing urban areas.
“The people of Electronic City have this innate desire to be successful and self-reliant, something which I think is not completely lost to those of us fortunate enough to live in a mature economic climate,” said Tyler Keith, a senior. “I was also able to gain a deep understanding of the technological market in India and, more importantly, a better look into the mindset of someone operating in that market.”
For most of the students, the trip was their first opportunity to travel to another country.
“As someone who has never traveled internationally before, I gained a lot from this experience - from understanding flights to being aware of potential animal threats—such as cobras and monkeys—to visiting various temples,” said JeVante Qaiyim, a sophomore in computer science. “This trip has made me want to continue traveling. I finally have a perspective on international travel, and it has influenced me to want to continue exploring different places so that I can learn about people, cultures, and businesses.”
Kaitlyn Owens, one of the instructors for the class, was pleased with how the group of students embraced all the trip had to offer.
“When travelling abroad, even small, everyday things can be a learning opportunity,” Owens said. “From using the Uber app to book a tuk tuk (a motorized, three-wheel rickshaw) to purchasing street food, our students were open to trying new things. More than just a better understanding of Indian culture and the Indian tech scene, I hope our students take away a more global perspective for their lives. The ability to think cross-culturally will benefit them inside the classroom, in the workplace, and in their day-to-day lives as global citizens. Tech is a global industry, and having an understanding of India’s role in the market is a competitive advantage for Luddy students.”
The trip reached its ultimate goal of broadening the perspectives of the students.
“I was extremely impressed by the hospitality of the people we met in India,” said Quinton Lord, a senior. “Going forward, I will be a lot more focused on global perspectives when thinking about informatics as a whole. Often times I will look at different local perspectives from subsets of people when considering the social impact of something, such as a phone app, but after the India trip, I now know that subsets of users aren't the same across the world, and that I must expand my perspective when thinking about the social impact of technology in general.”
The course, I400 IT in Emerging Markets – India, is also known as Global Information Technology and Development (GLOBiD) India, and will be offered again in Fall 2020.