Caila McHugh (SFS’21), a regional and comparative studies major, received the grant for the summer of 2018. Like Mihm, McHugh was originally set to travel to India to work with the Vicente Ferrer Foundation. However, prolonged difficulty obtaining her Indian visa ultimately forced McHugh to rework her travel plans on extremely short notice.
“What I learned from all of that is to be adaptable and flexible despite obstacles that may come because obviously you cannot control everything when you are traveling by yourself,” McHugh said. “You need to take that initiative because nothing is going to get done unless you do it.”
Learning Life Skills
McHugh ended up spending her summer in Amman, Jordan, where she volunteered at a local NGO called Shams Community, a dialogue-based organization that aims to promote social change and increase safe spaces for discussion and connection in Jordan.
As a group facilitator, McHugh led discussions with individuals from around the Middle East and the world, tackling topics like gender and sexuality, tribalism, accessibility, and ability and disability.
“I think the opportunity that I had to connect people of different backgrounds and participate in a wider, global, cross-cultural dialogue was really unique and very much follows suit with the idea of improving the human condition, and allows a very sustainable way to keep improving it too,” McHugh said.
Teaching and working with young people from a very different culture than his own caused Mihm to grow in ways he never expected. Mihm said,
“It was my intention to educate people, but I think I really underestimated the amount that I would learn myself.”
“I obviously expected to learn about local Anantapur and Indian culture, but I also just learned a lot of life skills that will stay with me throughout my life,” he added.