This is a reflection at the end of the semester of my study tour experience, and most importantly how it changed me and brought some great new perspectives and interests into my life.
After spending 2 weeks travelling in the wonderful craziness that are both Mongolia and China and sharing funny stories, travel mishaps and most importantly amazing discoveries, I can now comfortably say that the group of students who went on the China/Mongolia study tour with me, we are tight! We’ll cross in the halls, share some memories, call each other by newfound nicknames. We had a party to get back together and hang out (and perhaps taste some of the delightful culinary prizes we were able to bring back). Of my experience at Sloan, this is one, where I feel like I have had the opportunity to truly bond with great people. It helps that we all had some interest in the two countries and so had a common bond. Speaking of interests, every so often now students will send out some interesting news article or tidbit about the country or companies we saw. This leads me to my next point.
With all the amazing companies we met, and hearing their stories of their work, you are bound to discover something new or enhance a passion for something you know you already like. For me, the enhanced passion was natural resources. Going to Mongolia and getting to hear the panoply of people talking about how natural resources were impacting them was fascinating. I have always been interested in large primary industry companies. Hearing the CEO of Oyu Tolgoi, (de facto CEO of Rio Tinto Mongolia) really opened up my ears to the challenges in an industry like mining. From that meeting and then a subsequent course at MIT, I was able to dig a bit deeper into that interest and write a research paper on a new form of mining, deep sea mining!
But enough about crazy newfangled technologies, what about the discovery side? For me, discovery was international development. I honestly in the past associated international development as really narrow focused work, helping an area building schools here, providing money for wells here, and was not satisfied with this idea of international development. I couldn’t understand how people were actually helping each other. In Mongolia, learning about the role groups like the International Finance Corporation play and hearing countless stories about how a whole country was going to go from one of the poorest to one of the richest in only the span of a generation, I finally understood how international organizations and how focused development could help. I am now wondering if there is a role I could play in these organizations.
So, looking back, as I was debating signing on to the study tour, I remember my thoughts. There were many other opportunities of treks and trips, interesting conferences, but I will never regret going to on the China/Mongolia study tour. Simply put, it was an awesome experience and brought me so many new good stories to tell. Thank you Ted, Fan, JJ, Ian, Wes and Roberta.