Aiken-India Student-Leader Exchange Strengthens Partnership
Aiken, SC (06/03/2019) — Once again, the University of South Carolina Aiken welcomed students from India as part of the Global Leadership Program between USC Aiken and Ajeenkya D.Y. Patil University in Pune, India.
"We have partnered to host programs that are culturally immersive, educational, and provide experiential opportunities within the local communities of each campus and surrounding region," said Elizabeth Dille, assistant director of student life -- international programs at USC Aiken.
These goals between the international partners are achieved when students from India visit Aiken in the spring and when Pacers travel to India for a reciprocal visit during their winter break. While in each country, the universities' student-leaders have a rather ambitious two-week schedule that includes educational, governmental, and cultural discussions and activities.
Mid-May, a group of eight students from the Pune-based university traveled to Aiken. During their visit, they learned more about U.S. government and history through lectures, a trip to the statehouse in Columbia, and interactive activities. They even attended the annual Aiken Memorial Day Parade and learned the reason why Americans observe the holiday.
They also got a firsthand glimpse into the First Amendment, with visits to the CNN Studio in Atlanta and the Aiken Standard. To help enhance the international visitors' perspective on commerce in America, the guests visited Bridgestone, in Aiken; the Coca-Cola Museum in Atlanta; and ADP in Augusta.
The cultural exchange also included some entertainment venues, like the Georgia Aquarium, in Atlanta; Carowinds, near Charlotte, and the Columbia Zoo. Stops were also made to some local favorites: Hitchcock Woods, Hopeland Guardens and throughout the Aiken horse community.
"This culture and lifestyle have shown me a different perspective of how life is in the U.S.," said Viraj Wadikar, an undergraduate majoring in mechatronics engineering in India.
"The beautiful environment and the way people treat each other just make the experience more wonderful."
In addition to the fun and educational opportunities shared with USC Aiken students, the two universities paired up for a community outreach project with Habitat for Humanity.
"Our goal is to continue to build relationships between our faculty, staff, and students that can lead to further growth in research, education, and community engagement," Dille said.