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GATOR MEMORIES: ONCE IN A LIFETIME

Updated: 6 days ago


Sheesh Mahal in Ambar Fort, Jaipur (India)

I cannot believe it has been four years since I graduated from Allegheny. That May of 2016, like many Meadville days, was cloudy with some rain and even a brief snow shower. But I remember a great day with my parents, Nan, cousin, and all my Gheny friends and professors who made those four years something very special.

My favorite Gheny memory is the India Experiential Learning (EL) trip I took in 2014. The course was “3-D India: Democracy, Diversity and Development,” and along with Professors Ishita Sinha Roy and Juvia Heuchert, our group of more than thirty Gators traveled through the "Golden Triangle" and across northwest India for a month of adventure, study, and food—a lot of food!

Henna sit down at the rooftop neighborhood meet-and-greet in Udaipur, India


One of many highlights from this trip was a neighborhood meet-and-greet get-together one night in Udaipur, India’s “City of Lakes.” We arrived late in the evening, after a mad auto-rickshaw ride down narrow alleys, at a tall building. We climbed several flights up a narrow staircase and entered a huge terrace overlooking an array of colorfully houses of all shapes arranged along the banks of a nearby creek. We sat in a circle on vibrant rugs as our hosts greeted us with hot chai and henna. We ate (of course!) the wonderfully tasty snacks our hosts had prepared, danced to Bollywood music with everyone who had gathered --children, their parents and grandparents-- and like all wonderful things Ishita plans, the event ended in a surprise—a fireworks display directly above our heads. Unforgettable!!

Throughout this Experiential Learning study abroad trip we toured the various palaces, mosques, and temples we had learned about; met village craftsmen who taught us how to make traditional clay pottery, and showed us how they weave intricate rugs using centuries-old looms and techniques. We spent three days at a tiger reserve in Ranthambore where apart from our conservation tours of the forest, we visited a rural women's cooperative. We crossed “ride an elephant” off our bucket lists, and my newfound love for Indian cuisine continued.


Six years have passed since that sojourn, and I think about it often. I didn’t realize the lasting impact it would have. The trip reignited my passion for travel and was one of the reasons I landed my first job out of school at a Boston-based educational travel company. Sharing the highlights of what I'd seen and learnt during my India travels, with the interviewers, enabled me to stand out from the rest of the applicants.

I could never have planned an excursion like that, a true insider’s journey, which underscores the magnitude of work, time, and care that Allegheny Professors like Ishita provide to their students. International trips like these are one of the many things that make Allegheny such an awesome place. As a Gator Guide, I always talked to prospective students about ELs and doing a study abroad program with the Allegheny faculty, telling them and their parents with one hundred percent confidence that something great awaited them— a truly once-in-a-lifetime experience.


~~ Sam Talerico (Class of '16. Managerial Economics Major, Communication Arts Minor)

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