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Lessons From a Summer Abroad

LSG Class of 2023

The Leadership for Social Good Study Abroad program allows students to experience an immersive journey where they investigate high-impact, project-based learning opportunities. This summer, we witnessed the remarkable accomplishments of our student teams as they collaborated with nine esteemed social enterprises and foundations in Hungary to tackle a diverse range of critical issues.

Projects ranged from empowering marginalized children with social-emotional learning services to evaluating Budapest’s walkability (and sending a letter to the mayor with recommendations on improving it) to exploring sustainable waste management solutions through the UNSDG framework.

Here is an overview of the students’ reflections along the way:

How to apply lessons learned from an internship with an NGO in the Hungary post-graduation
“Working in a team requires emotional intelligence and knowing the importance of appreciating others’ hard work. During the Leadership for Social Good Study Abroad I was able to witness this firsthand and I will carry this lesson to my relationships in my consulting job post-graduation by building trust and appreciation between the client and firm. Instead of being quick to point out the flaws I will focus on understanding why those flaws exist.” - Aniruddha Gupta, IE

Big impact takes a big voice
“While evaluating the walkability and safety of sidewalks as a part of my internship we were presented with several challenges, these challenges generated personal growth. I was given the opportunity to directly email the mayor of Budapest. It was difficult to come into another country and advise the municipality as if you know better than they do. I was afraid of coming off the wrong way or being ignored, but, we had a unique perspective that could benefit the mayor and help the Clean Air Advocacy Group in their advocacy efforts. This taught me that as long as you are adequately informed and have a great deal of respect, you can and should use your voice to speak up.” - Maggie Meller, MSE

Discomfort is the place for growth
“During my internship with Domino Tanoda, an after-school program for Roma children, I was nervous the first couple of days to speak to the children. I kept thinking ‘What if they do not understand me?’ (which they did not) or ‘What if I try to speak Hungarian and they laugh at me?’ (which they did not). It was a very uncomfortable a vulnerable space for me to be in. Over time, I learned that everyone in the room most likely had the same concerns. I did not start seeing my growth abroad until I learned to accept what was uncomfortable. I plan to use this in school to talk to my professors and peers when I need help. In the academic environment, I get uncomfortable asking questions because I fear people will misinterpret my intelligence, but I have learned that it takes one step of confidence and vulnerability to see the best growth.” - Dinma Ohamadike, BA

What can for-profits learn from NGOs
“From overcoming challenges to discovering the humanity within business, I believe that
all of the experiences from my internship with Világszép will apply both my personal and professional life. Developing a stronger sense of open mindedness allows me to experience life in a broader more fulfilling sense.  I think that learning about balancing organizational values with practical application will allow me to better serve a workplace while being able to trace actions to long-term impact.” - Sophie Hollowell, BA

Turning defeat into victory
“When I walked out of my first meeting with Cargonomia I truly felt defeated, it was not at all what I expected or had experienced before. After completing my time there, I’m truly thankful my internship was with them. My experiences with the Leadership for Social Good Study Abroad have helped me become more receptive to ideas that I may not agree with (like the concept of degrowth). I now feel comfortable challenging ideas to further develop my understanding and have greatly benefited learning from different perspectives on topics that all had the same root intent, which was to create meaningful socioeconomic impact." - Kai Lewis, BA

The connect between sustainability and ethical consumption
“Professionally, the internship from this study abroad has given me important knowledge about sustainability and ethical consumption. Working on initiatives to advance sustainable practices and develop 11 indicators for shared transportation in Budapest has improved my comprehension of the complicated issues the sustainability industry faces. I also learned the value of cultural awareness and being open to different viewpoints because of overcoming language difficulties and negotiating cultural differences.” – Saanvi Diskalkar, BA

Understanding the benefits of cross-cultural collaboration
“After participating in the Leadership for Social Good Study Abroad, I feel confident collaborating with people from different cultures. Even though language barriers and different cultural norms can make projects a bit more complicated, I found that having many diverse viewpoints working on something produces higher quality results.” - Julia Haley, PUPB

Looking for a profession with passion
“The future of my professional career has drastically changed with this summer. Now, I want to find a career that I enjoy. However, it’s a difficult decision because it seems like I have to prioritize a passion over financial freedom. This summer taught me a career does not have to be a chore. After seeing other people being genuinely happy with their job, I want to pursue a career that is at the intersection of passion and a profession. Reflecting on my summer it is amazing to see how much I grew especially at the end of my collegiate journey where I thought I learned everything school had to teach. There were many challenges I faced and time where I faltered a bit, but I managed to get through stronger.” - Mahejya Meda, BA

The importance of turning our differences into connections
“I consider myself a severely socially anxious extrovert, so diving into a completely new social environment on the first day of class was exciting but also terrifying. I saw all the differences between the cohort and I and I levied them against myself. One of my greatest learnings this summer was how to appreciate the differences between the people around me. I learned not to see these differences as sources of division but as sources of conversation. I formed connections with people that I would have likely never met otherwise, and I am grateful for all that they contributed to my summer.” - Uday Bhanu Singh, PHYS

By combining experiential learning with global perspectives, the Leadership for Social Good program equips students with the tools - and helps them develop the mindset - needed to become socially responsible leaders in today’s complex world. These experiences shape their outlook, enhance their adaptability, and foster a deep sense of empathy. They worked tirelessly, leveraging their expertise to make a positive and lasting impact and their project’s results were extraordinary.

To read the full student experience visit their blog.

To read more about the Leadership for Social Good Study Abroad Program visit our website.

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