Every summer, hundreds of Northeastern University students embark on faculty-led programs that focus on critical issues across the globe, known as Dialogues of CivilizationsThese Dialogues give students credit toward their degrees while immersing them in cultural and experiential learning. D'Amore-McKim Executive Professor of Innovation and Entrepreneurship Sara Minard leads one of these programs. This year she is taking 26 students on a journey throughout India that will focus on female social entrepreneurs, business consulting, visual storytelling, and human-centered design thinking.

This is the second of a three-part series that follows the students participating in the Dialogue from May 9 – June 10. The first article profiled Neel Desai, CEO of IDEA and teaching assistant on the Dialogue.

Students traveled to Barefoot College in Tilonia, where they visited a night school powered with solar light. Photo by Viviane Macias, DMSB'18.

In the first two weeks, students explored visual storytelling as part of their course, while also acclimating to a new culture and its surroundings. Each student identified a topic or “beat” to follow and photograph, culminating into a visual narrative.

In the second part of the program, students will work with women entrepreneurs in mini-consulting projects for business-driven solutions toward sustainable growth in Mumbai, which will be covered in the final India series installment.

Pictured above (right), students traveled to Barefoot College in Tilonia, an organization that addresses rural unemployment, education, and female empowerment. The students attended a night school that is powered with solar light provided by female solar engineers. These semi-literate and illiterate women are provided training to generate their own income and bring innovative business solutions to rural poverty and income-inequality.

Marketing major Carly Rudiger, DMSB'20, had her heart set on going somewhere she had never been before. “I have always wanted to see India, the rich colors, the deep sense of culture, and the beauty of something totally different.” In a mid-journey reflection, Rudiger said the experience is driving her to want to make a difference in people's lives. “This trip is something that you cannot unsee. Personally, I have learned so much about resilience, about the importance of showing love, compassion, and simply finding the humanity in all situations.” See more of Rudiger's work here.

As someone who wants to pursue a career in social enterprise, Sarah Zhukovsky, DMSB'17, says her experience so far has been irreplaceable. “We are exposed to such a wide range of businesses, which has allowed me to better pinpoint the direction I would like to pursue in this field. Also, seeing the determination and willpower of both those in charge of social enterprises and those benefitting is something I will take back with me.” In the latter part of the program Zhukovsky is most looking forward to contributing her skills as a finance major. “We spend a week in Mumbai where we are assigned a consulting project with a social enterprise. I am excited to contribute to one of these amazing organizations, and I hope to be able to contribute as much as I know I will gain and learn.” See more of Zhukovsky's work here.

Carly Rudiger, DMSB'20 (left) and Sarah Zhukovsky, DMSB'17, right, were two of 26 students on this Dialogue in India.
On the busy streets of Connaught Place in New Delhi, a woman sells a variety of vegetables, while the alluring scent of incense attracts consumers. Photo and caption by Bilan Ahmed, DMSB'17.
Jessica Uhlig, DMSB'18, photographs Larden who together with her colleagues at Barefoot College, produce sanitary pads in a one-room manufacturing space and sell locally to women in the region – Friday, May 20th (left). Claire Cramm, DMSB'19, captures a woman in rural Rajastan who prepares a loom to weave fabric on May 19, 2016 (right).

Find out more about the Dialogue “Voices of Gender Development, and Participatory Design Thinking with Social Enterprises in Mumbai's Urban Slums” and other available Dialogue's here. Other student experiences from India can be read on the Dialogue's website.