What do you get when you put together a Korean, a Belgian, a Canadian and a Californian and then send them off to India to work for a few weeks? One Rockstar Haas IBD Team, a whirlwind of crazy moments, a few illnesses, new friendships and a LOT of curries, dosas, rotis and chutneys, some delicious, some slightly dodgy and most likely a cause of those’ illnesses’…let’s just say that sharing rooms, our team has gotten especially close. Of course we haven’t gotten to the stage of actually wiping one anothers’ bums, although here in India it is more of a spray ‘n’ rub approach, which we have all been diligently practicing. But if we were here for a few more weeks, no doubt our relationship would progress to that level. As noted in the picture – Leisha and I are almost there.

But the most valuable output of this unusual combination has been an amazing and unique experience; a chance of a lifetime to see a new culture not as a tourist but as someone that is temporarily a part of it – although we do stand out a bit around here so that might be a bit of a stretch.

Our scope of work was to conduct a Needs Assessment on implementing mHealth (mobile health) applications in rural areas of India and then recommend an mHealth solution. We spent two weeks in Mysore, where the mHealth solution will be piloted, and the final week in Bangalore. Here are some things we have discovered from this experience.

Key Learnings:

  • I am secretly envious of women’s clothing here. The saris are beautiful and the shalwar karmeez comfortable and practical. I may need to revamp my wardrobe.
  • Indians are extremely friendly and hospitable. The head of the National Institute of Engineering greeted us all with flowers; the men on our team especially appreciated it.
  • Toilet Paper is a rare commodity. WTP varies dramatically and is a function of availability and illness. We have learned to hoard when we can. Potential business opportunity?

Facts and figures:

  • 70 – Minutes needed to leave hotel prior to a meeting located 13km away. One must take into account negotiating price, getting lost, traffic, and then getting lost again
  • 43 – Number of people driver stopped on street to ask about an address as we circled central Bangalore
  • 0 – Tears shed: None so far but I am waiting for our final farewell to see who breaks down first.
  • 20% – Amount of total information we actually received versus what was given during fieldwork and interviews, the rest was lost in translation or drowned out by the multitudes of people always talking at once.

And finally, the most important Fact and Figure of all:

  • 10 – Recommendation rating for the IBD program, on a scale of 1-10. 10 being highly recommend. This is not to say that everything went smoothly or that we didn’t have our frustrations and challenges – we had plenty of those – but this has been an amazing experience that we would probably never have had otherwise.

—Shannon Riley

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