Internship in India proves valuable to Traverse City student

young woman takes selfie with group of students in India
Kailey Rubinas, front left, is pictured with young students in Mumbai, India, during her internship.
Image Credit: courtesy photo

Liberal studies major Kailey Rubinas has traveled from Traverse City to Mumbai, India, twice in the past year, and eagerly looks to return soon.

Rubinas lives in Traverse City and takes Grand Valley classes through the University Center. Her first trip to India was in May 2018, when Rubinas was a student at Northwestern Michigan College.

"We traveled all over India and after that trip I knew I wanted to go back," she said.

After transferring to Grand Valley, Rubinas met with staff members at the Traverse City Regional Center and learned she could get internship credit by working with non-government organizations in India.

In December, Rubinas started an internship with two NGOs in Mumbai, Kshitij and Angel XPress, and worked for the Go India's Think Education Office. Kshitij is a workplace for adults who have disabilities, and Angel Xpress is an after-school program for children from impoverished areas. At Angel Xpress, Rubinas would help students with their English skills by having discussions about social media, bullying, gender equality and diversity.

"I would prepare lesson plans ahead of time and plan activities for the students so they weren't just listening to me lecture all of the time," she said. "I also made sure to work in some time for games so I could bond with the students and that way they were more comfortable opening up to me and asking me questions about difficult topics."

Rubinas wrote blogs for Go India and assisted with research and outreach. "They felt that it was important for me to have a cultural understanding while working there, so they would send us out for cultural activities and then I would write blogs about the experiences to help encourage others to travel to India," she said.

She said her love of travel only intensified during her stay in Mumbai, and she learned valuable lessons like being flexible and open-minded.

"I also gained a lot of leadership and problem-solving experience as I had to find my way around a new city in a new country. I hope to bring these new skills into my future classes at Grand Valley," she said.