PulseBack from India: Students reflect on life-changing semester

From enlightening to terrible, Gage Brown and Malcolm Fox discuss their extreme experiences of studying abroad in Bodh Gaya
Kara KillingerJanuary 31, 20192117 min

Lessons learned

Andre Martinez believes that there was no way for Trinity to have known about the program’s problems prior to sending students. It fit all of Trinity’s criteria for external study abroad programs.

“Doctors taking advantage of students, it happens here, it happens there. The last thing we want is for students to be naive and think this is going to be like Disney World [where] everything’s super clean and people are super friendly. No — if you go to a big city, it’s just like here,” Martinez said.

Martinez also confirmed that Trinity will not be sending any students to the Bodh Gaya Buddhist studies program for many years.

“We’re not the only ones that are not going to be sending students,” Martinez said. “I wouldn’t be surprised if [in the future] they don’t have a program.”

Both Fox and Brown believe that their study abroad program, while positive in many ways, was a significant drain on their mental health.

“As rewarding as it was for me, it almost wasn’t worth what I had to go through,” Fox said.

Brown believes the biggest lesson she learned was how to care for others in times of extreme stress.

“For me, at the beginning of the program, it was very easy — like with the meditation every day and just talking about spirituality — I could get very heady and ungrounded. That abruptly was interrupted when all the stuff started to go south,” Brown said. “I guess I’ll never know if I needed that, to kind of open my eyes to what other people were going through, but that’s what it did for me.”

She hopes to carry this lesson with her as she continues her time at Trinity.

“I [want to] be a better part of this community and not have such an individualistic mindframe,” Brown said. “Even if I do have that mindframe, there’s no such thing as being an individual really, like you’re always part of something. You’re always in a space that you’re either detracting from or contributing to.”

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Kara Killinger

| Class of 2020 | Major: English | Minor: Creative Writing

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