The CapAsia field studies program will resume in spring 2022. In preparation, we’ve asked students from past CapAsia trips — there have been ten in all! — to reflect on their experiences.
BY JUSTIN BAKER AND CHIDO MOYO-BAKER, CapAsia VII
When I look back at my college experience, the part of it that had the biggest influence (by far!) was CapAsia. This study abroad program deeply affected not only my profession and education, but also my personal growth and the person I am today. When we first arrived in India all those years ago, I certainly felt overwhelmed with culture shock, but I was surprised by how quickly I was able to adapt. The experience of living in another culture that was so different from the one I grew up in had a profound impact on the way I looked at the world. Every day presented new challenges, but also new ideas and ways of thinking. Those three months felt like an eternity, but in the best way possible. By the end of the program I felt as though I could overcome any challenge. The bonds I made with my fellow classmates on the trip has endured almost a decade later, as the experiences you share and the impact of this program will be something that very few can relate to.
During this study abroad, I not only fell in love with the woman who is now my wife (our wedding also functioned as a CapAsia reunion!) but I also fell in love with Asia. After CapAsia I spent a year backpacking around various countries and even pursued further education in Singapore (and loved every minute of it!)
If you are even remotely considering participating in CapAsia, I would encourage you to take the leap with the strongest recommendation possible! It will truly be a life-changing experience that you will treasure forever!
— Justin Baker
Looking back, I would say that the CapAsia study abroad program was definitely one of the most transformative experiences of my life. I participated in the program in spring of 2013. During the 2013 program we spent two months in Bhubaneshwar, Orissa, India, and one month in Kathmandu, Nepal. Having come from the home of an immigrant single mother whose main goal was to get her kids through school so they can have a better life, I had mostly spent my college career focused on getting through school and graduating. It had never crossed my mind to try for a study abroad experience. At least not until I was convinced to seek out more information about the program after hearing about a former participant’s experience over a very long drive to Atlanta during field trip week. Discovering that I could use my student loans as well as a scholarship to pay for the trip and still get all my credits to graduate on time solidified my decision to go.
In CapAsia I saw a chance to get out of my bubble and see the world beyond my limited view. For most people going to college away from home is enough to set them on the path to self-discovery but for me that didn’t happen until CapAsia. CapAsia gave me the freedom to explorer a version of myself outside of my usual everyday life which was still largely influenced by my family’s ideal about life. Personally, my experience on during CapAsia taught me who I was as an individual and how to live life on my own terms. In other terms CapAsia set me on the path to adulting. As a student, I learned that effective learning doesn’t and shouldn’t always come from a structured class with rigid syllabi and textbook. As an experience-based learner, I thoroughly enjoyed that class was held anywhere on the go and that knowledge was exchanged through discussion of experiences, thoughts and ideas. As a planner in training, I discovered the bottom-up approach to planning for communities. I can honestly say that the lessons learned from practicing this approach have come in handy in my planning career, especially during community engagement and neighborhood planning processes.
I walked away from the CapAsia with the love of my life, lifelong friends, new ideas of approaching planning, and a thrust to travel and learn from the world around me.
— Chido Moyo Baker
For information about the spring 2022 CapAsia trip to Thailand, Nepal, and Russia with Profs. Nihal Perera and Tim Gray, contact Prof. Perera at firstname.lastname@example.org