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Insights from India

Amy Fathers  Follow

In November, I returned to New York after spending two years living in Bangalore, India. As I stepped off the plane and back onto Big Apple soil, I was excited to get back into the swing of things here. It's already been three months since I have been back and it's been a bit of a whirlwind, but I've had the opportunity to really reflect on my experience in India and how it has positively affected me both personally and professionally.

Making the decision to move to India was an easy one, but actually setting up a home and adjusting to the culture posed a bit of a challenge the first few weeks. I can vividly recall an incident during my second week in Bangalore when I had to ask someone to help me cross the street because there were no traffic lights and more rickshaws, cars and motor bikes (and a few cows!) than I had ever seen in my life! I was, for a moment, paralyzed by fear and couldn't get myself to play human dodgeball with the traffic!

While there were certainly other speed bumps along the way, overcoming these incidents became a lot easier. I realize now how much I have taken away from my time in what became one of my favorite countries in the world. India challenged me in the best way possible - it forced me to get out of my comfort zone and experience something entirely new and extremely different than what I was used to back in New York. It helped me view things from other people's perspectives and take time to understand cultural nuances. Spending time abroad also influenced me from a creative standpoint as I was often forced to approach challenges in a new way without the resources I had at my disposal back home.

I had the opportunity to interact with reporters in an entirely new region and better understand the way the media landscape works in one of the largest emerging markets in the world. I attended the leading gathering of technology professionals in Mumbai, met with the head of communications at India's most prominent business school in Hyderabad and conducted a new business video conference with 15 executives from Gurgaon with our team in New York. While I often had doubts about the best way of navigating these unfamiliar situations, it was an amazing learning experience for me.

I can say without hesitation that living in India helped me grow and develop as a person and a communications professional. Being in public relations, we serve as advisors to our clients, help them make decisions and provide strategic direction on a daily basis. Not all of these decisions are cut-and-dry and there are often many ways to approach a situation with a client. I feel confident knowing that I can provide solid counsel, evaluate different approaches and offer creative solutions to solving a communications issue, whatever that may be.

Thank you, India, for allowing me to share a tiny part of your history. I have taken home with me more than just a suitcase, but an experience that I will never forget. CJP

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