Exploring India as a Michigan IFYE delegate
Traveling abroad as a young adult is eye opening. Kate Garrity was fortunate to grow up around the IFYE organization and always knew she wanted to participate one day.
On Sept. 6, 2019, in Washington, D.C., IFYE Association of the USA, Inc. and the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) signed a memorandum of agreement (MOU). This MOU is to advance the public interest in international agriculture through rural-based international exchanges. The MOU was signed by U.S. Deputy Secretary of Agriculture Steve Censky and IFYE President Victoria Fehrmann Warren, both IFYE alumni. Read more about the signing here.
Michigan State University Extension supports the IFYE program through Michigan 4-H. The IFYE program is an extension of our 4-H youth exchange for ages 12-18. Since the 4-H age is up to 19, Michigan IFYE Association encourages young adults or 4-H alumni ages 19 and up to consider traveling abroad for three to six months. Applications are due between November and February.
Enjoy reading about Michigan’s own Kate Garrity’s experience with IFYE Association on her abroad trip to India.
Maggie (M): Tell me a little about yourself.
Kate (K): I grew up in Bath, Michigan, and lived there my whole life. I am now 26 years old and have my bachelor’s and master’s degrees. I received my undergrad at Michigan State University and my graduate from Appalachian State University—both were in nutrition and dietetics. I am currently working in nutrition at a hospital.
(M): How did you decide to travel through the IFYE organization? Have you traveled much before?
(K): I grew up surrounded by the IFYE program because of my grandmother’s involvement. She would host international guests in her home often and take me along to the IFYE conferences, even to the conferences in England and Wales. I have known about the IFYE program for a long time and I always knew I would want to one day be an IFYE myself. Other than this most recent trip, I have traveled a lot with my family around Europe and I visited my brother in Cameroon.
(M): Where did you travel through IFYE? Why did you choose that place? How long were you gone?
(K): I chose to travel to the beautiful country of India. This would be a new adventure for me, but I already had a love for Indian cuisine, so it seemed like the perfect fit. I chose the three-month experience through IFYE. The three months I was gone went by in the blink of an eye, I had an amazing experience.
(M): What was an average day like for you in India?
(K): I stayed with many different families, and the average day with each family was a little different but one thing was common with all families: tea time! I would wake up with the rest of the house at 7:30 or 8 a.m. We would have tea or coffee at this time and wait to eat breakfast for a few hours. After breakfast, we would go to town for shopping, go to a park or on a walk; it was a very relaxing morning. We would eat lunch around 1 or 2 p.m., which was followed by a one- to two-hour nap. After waking up from a nap, we would again have coffee or tea, go for a walk, go on any errands and then prepare for dinner at 8 or 9 p.m. This late dinner was quite the adjustment for me. I usually went to bed around 11 p.m.
(M): What kinds of food did you eat? Did you enjoy the food?
(K): I loved the food in India, nothing here in the U.S. compares to anything I ate while on my trip. Everything was very fresh; we would go shopping for all ingredients every day. Most meals were vegetarian, some included meat but never beef. This was also an adjustment for me; back at home we eat much more beef and meat in general. The meal would be served with vegetables, a sauce (sometimes spicy) and either roti or chapatti. This is a bread dough that is rolled out like a large tortilla and used as a utensil to eat with. Roti and chapatti are common to northern India whereas in southern India rice is more commonly eaten during meals. I think my favorite meal was called Mutton Curry, which was made from goat that was slow cooked for six to seven hours—it was delicious.
(M): Where did you stay in India? What were your host families like?
(K): Over the three months I was in India, I stayed with six different hosts. My first day in India I arrived in Delhi and stayed with a friend of the IFYE coordinator so I could get acclimated to the new time zone. I then spent one month in Agra, where the Taj Mahal is located. I lived with my host mother, father and brother. The host aunt, uncle and their son also lived in the home. My host brother had traveled as an IFYE himself. I had the opportunity to visit lots of tourist sights here and of course visited the Taj Mahal. I woke up very early to be fitted into my own Sari. I then returned to Delhi and stayed with the IFYE coordinator for a few days. My next host family was in Patiala Punjab. This was the home of the India IFYE President. I lived with him, his son and daughter-in-law. This family did have young children, but they were attending a boarding school away from home. This is very common for the wealthy and upper-class families. My fifth host family lived in the Himalayas in Khotki, where they ran an apple farm. My final host family lived on a stud farm, where they bred horses for racing.
(M): Would you like to travel through IFYE again?
(K): If the opportunity arose, I would love to travel as an IFYE again! I will definitely be hosting in the coming years, too.
(M): What would you say to someone considering traveling through IFYE? Would you recommend this program to a friend?
(K): I would tell people to DO IT! This is such a rare opportunity to travel, not as a tourist but as a part of a local family. Where else can you get that? I felt as though I had gained so many new friends and family members after only three months. The global thinking and open mind I gained is something everyone should have the opportunity to experience and I think it is very important in today’s day and age. Don’t be discouraged by the length of time, this is the best asset of the IFYE program. The three months I spent in India flew by, I left wishing there was more time.
IFYE is a unique program because of the age of the exchange delegates, multiple host family experience, length of stay and total cultural immersion experience. Become a Michigan Outbound IFYE. There are scholarships available. Visit the IFYE website to learn more about your future IFYE experience and what countries you could live in.
If you would like to learn more, visit the Michigan 4-H International Exchange Program website. To learn more about hosting an international exchange student, contact D’Ann Rohrer at firstname.lastname@example.org or 231-845-3361.
To learn about the positive impact of Michigan 4-H youth leadership, citizenship and service and global and cultural education programs, read our 2017 Impact Report: “Developing Civically Engaged Leaders.” Additional impact reports, highlighting even more ways Michigan State University Extension and Michigan 4-H have positively impacted individuals and communities in 2016 can be downloaded from the MSU Extension website.