Dr. P.V. Viswanath

 

pviswanath@pace.edu

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FIN 680V/ FIN 360:
Microfinance and Small Business Financing in India

 
   

In addition to all the learning that happened during the trip related to microfinance, students also had a lot of personal experiences. Here's what some of them said:

Chenyan Xu:

During the past one week, I had a wonderful journey in India, which is one of the fastest growing emerging markets with many micro financial institutions (MFIs). In this trip, I came to know that the best way to know a country is to go there and talk to the people. India is different from what I expected before my trip and from the words of others who have visited before.
The first advice I got is from my friend who took internship in Mumbai. She recommended me to bring enough napkins and paper tissues when she heard I would go to South India. I did follow her advice and was totally shocked when we landed in Chennai. Most of buildings around the hotel are unfinished. Crossing streets becomes so difficult because there’re few traffic lights. Toilets can’t be found easily. Roads are full of bumps and hollows. When I watched news and movies, India is always compared with China-both of the two countries have a huge population and fast GDP growth rate. But what I saw in South India made me think of what China used to be in 1970s. Absolutely true!

The second thing I learnt before this trip is appreciating cultural differences. Bobbing head means “yes” in India. I called it “neck yoga”. Cultural shock is as strong as I have when I came from China to US. Every temple we visited and also the household or factories require the visitors to take off the shoes. The floor is not clean and covered with lots of dirt. In the last three days, I started to learn to bring a pair of socks wherever I went.

What’s the most important is that I gained friendship in this trip. Because of the emergency, Jin Di went back to China during the middle of this trip. We helped her to manage her way back home and sent her a postcard in India. And when Lucas left his bag pack on the train, we all stayed there for him and helped him to find other ways to get his bag back. We went shopping, had meals and slept together. This trip becomes one of the most interesting travel experiences I have ever had because of the companion of so many friends. And at GLIM, the students are so hospital and friendly that I missed them so much when I’m back to US. The knowledge I learnt is more than microfinance of India or of the whole world. It is the life experience which I can’t get in any other way. 

Di Jin:

The most valuable part of my field study experience is friendship. Shuting, Miranda, Nana and me had breakfast together of each day. We all enjoyed the omelets that the hotel provided. We also shared our experiences of last day study. Tadayoshi always made fun with us. Andrew always discussed the political issue between India and China. Shevalene like my older sister was nice and easygoing. Especially Professor P.V. provided help as much as he could when he got known about my emergency. Tour conductor and driver all worked on my problems and managed my back way to China. Ram, my Indian friend, was the travel agent of our India trip and drove me to Chennai Airport by Professor’s arrangement. On the road to Airport, Ram talked the young people lives in India with me. I shared my Chinese stories with him. After I returned to China, Miranda twittered me that they had sent a postcard to me. I really appreciated everyone’s help when I was in need.  As the old saying in china goes, a friend in need is a friend indeed. It is an impressive journey I will remember it in my whole life.

Khalid Mazile:

Overall, I enjoyed my time in India.  I enjoyed seeing what we were learning in class being applied and I enjoyed learning about the culture of India. 

As far as the culture of India, it’s different than what I am accustomed to.  The attire, food, mannerisms, and etc. took some time getting used to.  The Indian people had draped garments such as sari for women and dhoti for men.  Stitched clothes are also popular such as churidar for women, with a long scarf thrown over shoulder completing the outfit.   I wondered why some men wore the traditional dhoti and some did not.  In public and religious places, Indian dress etiquette dissuades exposure of skin and wearing tight clothes.  The food for the most part is spicy and unfortunately I am not a fan of spicy food, but overall the food was good.  Although, there were times when we spent time at vegetarian locations and it didn’t help my appetite at all.  Indian people seemed very friendly; they always wanted to talk to you and get to know you.  They would always say hi to you.  But on the other hand, when I was walking in the street, I would receive a lot of looks.  I don’t know if they were mean looks or curiosity looks.  It was a little uncomfortable but I guess since I am not from the country I had to get used it.  Despite all the talk about the BRIC economies and India’s growth we saw A LOT of poverty.  Hearing what the mainstream media says and actually seeing it makes you take what is being said with a grain of salt.  I would’ve never expected what I saw.  People living in huts, garbage was all over, the color of the water green, people begging for food and money, it was very disheartening.  The Indian culture is rich and diverse and as a result unique in its very own way.  I was amazed at all the temples and the history they have.  Even though we did a lot and saw a lot, it seemed there was much more to see and do.  I would love to visit India again.  Next time I go I would like to visit the northern cities like Mumbai and New Delhi.  I want to visit the modern cities and compare it to what I’ve experienced in this past trip.  I want to see if there is a difference in the way they dress, the food, how they act, how they live and etc.

Shevalene Williams

(M)y study of Microfinance has been my most memorable educational experience, to date.  I walked into my first Microfinance class with little knowledge of the field and walked away with a wealth of knowledge that could not have been attained in classroom environment.  I hope to one day be able to bring some of the practices learned from Microfinance and Small Business Lending in India, to help the poor people of my country in Jamaica.

Shuting Zhang

On March 8th, I started my fantastic microfinance trip to India. I have to admit that this trip was one of the most wonderful experiences in my life. It provides me a better access to the microfinance and a deeper understanding of the mysterious country.

Tadayoshi Takemoto

 If I should ever have the chance to go back to India, I definitely will. I had a really great experience in my nine day trip, but I still have many questions about micro finance; and I would like to interact more with actual borrowers, especially I would like to know more about how their lives changed before and after MFI.