Eight business students from Ara Institute of Canterbury – all recipients of New Zealand’s Prime Minister’s Scholarship for Asia (PMSA) – have returned home after what they called “a life-changing experience”.

Apart from attending lectures at Jaipuria Institute of Management in Noida and KCT Business School in Coimbatore, the students also visited local business establishments including dairies and textile mills. Some also attempted cultural activities including riding camels, kite flying, and Bollywood dancing in a jam-packed itinerary.

This, they say, has “changed their view of the world, increased their confidence and deepened their self-awareness”. The students were accompanied in Noida by John O’Sullivan, from Ara's Department of Business, and in Coimbatore, by Amit Sarkar, from Ara's Department of Computing.

One of these students, ICT graduate Jessica Pelayo, has already landed a job in Christchurch. During her interview she connected with her interviewer about her favourite places in India; and a mature student of project management, Alan McGill, 54, is on track to investigate business opportunities with new connections in India.

Others elaborated on the effect India had on them, and how the trip has increased their ambition and passion in life.   

“I have returned to New Zealand with a better understanding of the role businesses play in a society and how it contributes to the world both positively and negatively. Specifically, this trip has inspired me to do the Graduate Diploma in Innovation and Entrepreneurship after I finish my degree,” noted  Joely Elley, an applied management student at Ara.

Demi Cross related the experience to the practical component of the Bachelor of Broadcasting Radio, which involves creating and running a radio station. “The tutors (in India) taught us that life is 10 per cent what happens to you, and 90 per cent, how you deal with it. Honestly, it is the best thing I have ever done in my life. I’m so excited about the world now,” she said.

Thomas Jones, a mechanical engineering student, added, “The industry was not what I expected there. I thought it would be all sweatshops and lots of manual labour, but it was quite sophisticated.”

The last word comes from the youngest member of the group, Anastasia Loeffen, who is only 19. She was impressed by the effort their Indian hosts made to get to know the group. “They would take us to their homes, and make us chai and bake for us. The hospitality was awesome, something I never expected. Indians are so kind and always eager to learn about you and your culture.”