Transformed by Travel: Luxury, poverty, a learning moment


I have wept three times during classes at McGill University; let me tell you about one of those times.

In February of this year, I was part of the Desautels Faculty of Management's Hot Economic Cities of the World tour. I went to India for 10 days with 29 McGill undergrads and MBA students.

In New Delhi, it took us more than 15 minutes to merely cross the road to our hotel, as an astonishing variety of traffic flowed, clattered and bleated its way by us: cattle, horse-drawn carts, donkeys, innumerable motorcycles, flocks of bicycles, hordes of cars and a cacophony of trucks.

But the most moving time was when we visited an elementary school in the slums of Mumbai.

Two of the MBA students, Melanie Walsh and Jun Yeo, had suggested that we use social media to raise money to help send poor Indian girls to slum schools.

My only proviso was that we had to meet some of the girls, to make it real; and so off we went.

After we had entered the slum, the guide told us that due to construction we had to walk the last kilometre or so.

The smells and sights were sobering; true grinding poverty was what we walked through. At the school, we spent a wonderful hour with the students, playing, talking, and enjoying the pure pleasure of spending time with young children. As we walked back to our bus, many of the children walked with us, the younger girls skipping in the manner of young girls everywhere.

Read full article: The Gazette, August 17, 2011