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Posted on April 10th, 2023 in Educational Programs by Miriam Maddox

Incessant rain, biting cold and hope for a new beginning. The morning of March 3rd was indeed new to me – a new country, a new city and, above all, new experiences. The much anticipated group of superstars – 25 educators from 24 different countries. When I first met them on the morning of the 4th, they were just faces. Unidentified, undesignated and unnamed. Little did I know that they would end up being my greatest, prized gifts. Introductions and commonalities followed. We waited with bated breath as we were to embark on this journey.

Finally, it was our first day at IUPUI. As I remember, it stood in all majesty, under the clear blue skies, surrounded by the bare trees with an all-accommodating, familiar silence.

The sessions began- perspectives met, narratives dispensed, experiences felt and, most importantly, cultures shared. Without realizing it, a week had gone by. A week of academic learning, fun adventures and, above all, creating life-long bonds with fellow educators turned friends. We were immersed – in the sessions, site visits, cultural sites and what I remember most fondly – the home visits. It opened doors for person to person connections, appreciating other cultures and enriching ourselves with the encounters.

Whether it was interacting with the students at Perry Meridian High School, exchanging teaching pedagogies with teachers at Ivy Community College or assimilating information from ProAct Indy, it all converged to grant us a new outlook on education and teaching in our own contexts.

My experience at IUPUI was life-changing-it provided me with the opportunity to learn from some of the best educators in the world while also experiencing a diverse and enriching cultural environment. With a rigorous curriculum and expert faculty, I was given the tools and resources I required to implement 21st century skills in my classroom. What really stayed with me was the intellectual expertise and the teaching methodologies of the diverse faculty at IUPUI.

In addition to the academic experience, visiting IUPUI offered a unique cultural experience. I was able to visit the Canal walk, the Eiteljorg Museum, The Indiana War Memorial, The Monument Circle, Indiana State Capitol, The Indianapolis City Market and, not to be missed-the super intriguing basketball match between the Pacers and Rockets on March 9th! Personally, for me, as an avid art enthusiast, experiencing Monet and Friends at the Lume Museum was an incredibly enriching and transformative experience. Unforgettable for me was the exhibit that featured the “Water Lilies” room, where I could sit on the benches and take in Monet’s tranquil and meditative paintings, surrounded by simulated water lilies and natural light. Surreal and so very overwhelming.

The icing on the cake, however, were my fellow educators. Friends who had become family. I was inspired by their brilliance, touched by their kindness, thoughtfulness and the support that they had meted out to me. Their compassion brought us together and created lasting bonds. Over the two weeks spent at IUPUI, we built trust, exchanged our cultures, developed mutual respect and a sense of belonging. Over time, the bond grew stronger and transformed the friendship into a family-like relationship. It created a positive and uplifting environment that led to acceptance and unconditional love. The best example of this, I would say, would perhaps be our final project presentation where the unwavering encouragement, the loud cheers, the genuine happiness and pride for each other’s successes were evident and so moving.

As educators, the learning was manifold. As humans, the experience, evoking and heart-warming.

My gratitude to the U.S. Consulate General, Kolkata, RELO India, the U.S. Department of State, Office of English Language Programs, FHI 360, IUPUI, Maggie, Dr. Connor, Asieh, Matthew, Miriam and Alice is certainly not enough, as the exchange is a testament to my countless and unforgettable experiences that shaped my life in profound ways. Visiting IUPUI was both an academic and cultural experience that enriched my life and facilitated numerous opportunities to experience different cultures and broaden my horizons.

As I sit writing this from my small desk in Kolkata, I look back. I look back at the sky laden with clouds, grass covered with snow and faces – the unknown, untold faces. Faces that are now family, smiling, forever imprinted in my heart.


Olivia at the LUME exhibition at the Indianapolis Museum of Art.

Olivia and other participants at the Intercultural Mixer.

10 thoughts on "“Beyond Borders: My Transformative Journey” – Olivia Mondal (India)"

  1. Augusto says:

    Dear Olivia, I enjoyed every word you wrote. You were one of the first people I met in Indianapolis and I am still amazed by your personality and how professional your work is. You inspire people and please keep inspiring all of us.

  2. Faria says:

    I’m so happy that I got to be your student. I admire the way how you are so positive and make everything seem so fun! I wish to achieve great great things like you in the future under your guidance

  3. Alipriya says:

    Ma’am I’m so lucky to be a fellow student of yours bring hope to us and make us feel that we can dream big and achieve them at times too …thankyou ma’am for being such a big inspirational figure for me … I’m just blessed by the best to have your guidance , support and positivity !!

  4. Upashana says:

    Thank you ma’am for sharing such beautiful experience with us. The way you described each moment made it really magical. Getting to know each others culture is always fun. Thanks ma’am for sharing this with us. Really enjoyed it.

  5. PG~ says:

    It was very inspiring to read about your journey at IUPUI. I hope that one day I will have the ability to achieve with hardwork and effort, and be like you, mam.

  6. Salma El gabry says:

    You are an outstanding person Olivia, you are someone who I was honoured to meet. I have learned a lot from you. Thanks for expressing our experience beautifully. You are my pink panther buddy . I will always remember you. I really hope that we could work together one day as I have learned a lot from you.

  7. Ayna says:

    Dear Olivia, it was so nice to meet you there, to be group mate with you! Your expression of the program touched me deeply. Thank you very much!

  8. Amrita Banerjee says:

    I could see through your write-up how incredible this transition was for you…Keep blossoming….best wishes..god bless….

  9. Dheshnaa says:

    It was really intriguing to read about your experience at the IUPUI. I’m really glad you could interact with so many different cultures and learn so much more. Wishing you all the best for future endeavours.
    Sending love and good vibes 🌟

  10. Samriddhi Banerjee says:

    Your cheerfulness and positivity is very powerful to win everyone’s heart. Realized this once again through the above words. I feel lucky to be a student of you. I wish to be such a charming personality and achieve such great experiences like you.

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