This blog was written prior to the Cross Continent MBA program merger with the Global Executive MBA program.
As we barreled down the road connecting Agra and Jaipur in our blissfully air-conditioned 12-person van, I found myself completely at ease. Our home on wheels was full of bright-eyed Fuqua students armed with economic perspective from our MBA coursework and a bevy of cultural questions on India. We were ready for anything.
We were also fortunate enough to have unbelievably helpful Indian classmates along for the ride who were not only the kindest, most generous hosts one could ever ask for, but were also happy to share their extensive regional knowledge and experiences with us during our stay in their home country. This is why I came to India, and this is why Team Fuqua is more than just a hashtag.
In this excursion that some of us took prior to our Cross Continent MBA (CCMBA) residency in New Delhi, we toured the Taj Mahal in Agra as well as the Agra Fort where as history tells us, a deposed ruler imprisoned by his son could at least look upon the Taj from afar. We also toured Jaipur’s forts and saw the astronomical observatory with the world’s largest sundial and a castle in the middle of a lake that looked as if it was straight out of “Game of Thrones.” We rode elephants up the steps of an ancient castle on a hill and watched fire-breathers perform over dinner.
The trip however, was about so much more than checking off tourist landmarks. Our travel family of Fuqua students had already bonded as a class over the course of our prior three CCMBA residencies—we had discussed business, politics, and economic theories. We had struggled and learned together about accounting, finance, statistics, and strategy. We came on this adventure to learn even more—about India and about each other.
On the way to “the pink city” of Jaipur, the largest in the state of Rajasthan, we were all invited to an impromptu lunch on a Fuqua classmate’s family farm. We naturally jumped at the chance. Our driver turned off the main drag—which was itself was full of cows, camels, and trucks unconcernedly speeding towards us on the wrong side of the highway divider—and onto a series of lesser roads. We had directions in hand, and the driver seemed reasonably confident, but as we happened upon our aforementioned classmate at an intersection, we were happy for him to lead us to his home.
The farm was abuzz with activity—a bird pen for parakeets, milk cows grazing in a nearby pen, and the farm caretakers, a family, graciously preparing us an amazing meal. A woman stretched and slapped bread dough over a small cooking fire in the center of the yard as other fellows rushed to get us ice for our waters. We were all weary from the drive and happy to be outside again exploring the grounds and staring off at the crooked, sunbaked hills in the distance. Jaipur is right on the edge of India’s largest desert—the air is dry and the April sun was blazing hot.
This afternoon stands out the most in my memory from our CCMBA experience in India. The scenery was simple in comparison to the breathtaking grandeur of the Taj Mahal, and the setting lacked the glitz and glamour of the well-organized residency events we would have in a few days. Instead I got a glimpse of something much more real: the childhood memories of a close friend; stories of growing up on the farm and of watering the crops by hand in days when rain was scarce; and insight into the life of an average Rajasthani family who lived on the farm and kept the place running year round. Finally, it was the simple community of sharing a meal in the shade with your classmates and friends and realizing that you’re a part of something much larger than yourself—a school and a family: Team Fuqua.