As we sat on a bench in front of the famous Dartmouth hall on a cold New Hampshire afternoon, the mere thought of conducting my first ever interview excited me. Armed with a notepad, I sought to unearth the narratives of a college student that shape the way they think about college. Pranit Gupta, my interviewee, is from India. He was born and raised in Indore – a unique junction between the past and the present adorned by I.T towers and historical palaces alike. Governing a student body of more than 2500 students, Pranit was the head boy of his high school. He was the youngest member of the Indian delegation which came to New York for the UN Youth Assembly. Pranit is an extremely ambitious person who hopes to change the world.
“Why go to college?” I asked, clearing my throat.
He gathered his thoughts and answered, “A college experience is like a canvas; its vibrant shades of blues and greens defined by the diverse student body.” For him, college experience encompasses a culmination of learning from these divergent cultures: the uniqueness of their values, the traditions that define their beliefs and the intricacies of their societal fabric. Pranit sees college as a platform to learn a wide range of professional and technological skills. The college will provide an opportunity for him to improve upon his already existing skills and develop some new ones in the process. He believes college is a place where you learn to be independent and get out of your comfort zone.
Being an international student, he is excited at the prospect of experiencing life in a ‘new country.’ He agrees that the transition from school to college is a difficult one because the learning in college is different to that in high school. “While most people find this transitioning daunting, I see it as a new stepping stone,” he stated. He is looking forward to seeing new faces, creating new relationships and studying for the success of his future. Another aspect he’s looking forward to is the American school spirit that is highly cherished by many colleges in the US such as prep rallies, tailgate parties, and athletic events. Growing up in an Indian school, it has always been an extreme fondness of his to experience life in an American college. College is a huge mountain climb, but one that he would love to conquer especially in a country like America, where college is the forefront of the best education in the world.
He thinks colleges in the US offer a wide range of activities beyond academics which is something not offered at colleges in India. “Whether I immerse myself in the Dartmouth Outing Club or sing along the a Cappella vocal groups, Dartmouth will allow me to discover myself in a number of ways,” he quoted. As an enthusiast community service volunteer, Pranit is excited to continue his work at college by becoming a part of various community programs.
As a student hailing from India, he hopes to add a unique perspective to the college community. Pranit wants to play an important role in introducing his fellow students to aspects of his culture he thinks they will be fascinated by. “I can easily envision myself as one of the most enthusiastic members of Dartmouth’s cricket club,” he mentioned. The love that all Indians share for cricket is something formidable. Having grown up playing cricket, he is quite determined to introduce the thrill of the game to people who might currently perceive it as a dull and long-winded affair. His Indian background and his knowledge of Asian culture, Bollywood movies, and songs, will help him enrich the community and serve as an avenue for his peers to better understand the dynamics of the country that is home to more than 1.3 billion people.
He is particularly intrigued by topics related to Economics and he is excited to delve deeper into the subjects of microeconomics, fiscal and monetary policies. He believes the greatest challenges the world faces today deal with the effective allocation of resources between innovation and preservation; however, chipping away at such complex problems requires knowledge across multiple disciplines. He hopes to take advantage of the vast academic and research opportunities available to immerse himself to intellectually engage with old wisdom as well as modern interdisciplinary links. Furthermore, opportunities for hands-on learning will enable him to complement his academics with practical execution and prepare him for life after college. “An Economics major will give me the tools to intricately comprehend the economic dynamics of the world, “he added.
Similarly, Pranit has participated in a number of MUNs over the past few years. He believes that MUNs have not only made him adroit with incisive arguments but has also made him a more globally aware citizen through extensive relations on topics of ‘international policy and relations.’ MUNs have taught him to ‘build bridges by reducing disparity’ and that’s the axiom he hopes to keep in mind in the future. He immensely values team work and can help bring people together by building consensus. He believes that international conflicts aren’t merely a matter of right and wrong; they are dynamic, with different ground realities that usually never get surfaced. Through research and discussions with his classmates from across the globe, he would be able to document these matters and effectively contribute towards world’s peace.
In his short life thus far Pranit feels privileged to have seen enough the unmatched beauty that diversity and difference promise. “It was only when I pushed myself outside my comfort zone that I understood this. That each new face can enhance my learning which means I must constantly seek them and gain from the perspectives and values they espouse.”
He looks towards college as an opportunity to do just that. He hopes to gain not just from the interaction with a multitude of personalities, but to consequently incorporate diverse aspects into his personality, so that he can become an individual free of biases who possesses the ability to look beyond baseless boundaries created by man himself.
And how can we deny it, considering how nature co-exists with all of us in a non-discriminating manner, providing each of us whatever we need, then be it water, oxygen, solace or inspiration? Difference is beautiful, difference is joy, and difference is what encapsulates the beauty of life. And so, why not devour this beauty with open eyes and minds, so we all can make the best of this world.
We conclude our discussion as we reach Reed hall. Even though class may be over, our disclosure and unique insight into the topic never ends.
This assignment was particularly interesting because it was the first time that I interviewed someone. Writing the profile was a bit challenging initially because I had no experience of writing something like this before. Since the topic of the interview was open-ended, I found it challenging to choose the questions to ask my interviewee for the profile. I think the most challenging part of the interview process is asking the right kind of questions from your interviewee so that the purpose of the interview is served, and the topic is thoroughly discussed. It is also important to clearly convey your interviewee’s ideas and opinions effectively to the audience. In order to achieve this, the interviewer needs to fully focus and understand whatever ideas and opinions the interviewee mentions during the interview. In doing this assignment, I realized that follow-up questions are an integral part of the interview process as they help in maintaining the flow of the interview and help the interviewer carry out an in-depth discussion of the subject.
Nevertheless, I enjoyed doing this assignment because it helped me try a different style of writing. The interviews allowed a healthy exchange of ideas and I learnt unique perspectives related to the topic. It was particularly important because it allowed me to think far beyond the things that I relate a college experience to.