A change in worldview — and career choice

March 16th, 2022   |   India, SIT Study Abroad

"The program taught me that these challenges are not a question of the human capability to produce better technology, but rather, they are a question of the human capability to act as better humans towards one another and our planet."

By Jared Marsh
SIT India: Agroecology and Food Security in the Himalaya
Summer 2018

This program was truly one of the best experiences of my life.

What first attracted you to this program?

As a student passionate about sustainability, I was deeply interested in learning about how the climate crisis was impacting agriculture. When I saw the opportunity to work alongside farmers in Himalayan villages as part of the Sikkim Agroecology program, I knew it was the opportunity I had been looking for. Living in Sikkim and working alongside the passionate and knowledgeable SIT faculty and farmers genuinely had a profound impact on me. Not only did the program and people change the way I see the world, but I changed my future trajectory because of it.

Their generational knowledge about the land and farming practices was nothing short of astounding.

What’s your fondest memory of your time in Sikkim? 

While in a town called Chalamthang outside of Gangtok, Sikkim, our group, made up of six students and three SIT faculty, embarked on a sustainable farm tour led by a regionally renowned scientist. We had spent the morning learning about sustainable farming practices and now was the time to see them in action. So, we walked from farm to farm learning from the farmers. Their generational knowledge about the land and farming practices was nothing short of astounding. This was coupled with the fact that we were literally on the side of the Himalayan mountains surrounded by the greenest vegetation I had ever seen. After walking many miles, we stopped for a rest and unwound by swimming in a stream. Truly unforgettable.

I still carry with me in spirit and practice to this day ... the power of a group of people sharing a meal ...

What was unexpected about your experience? 

Aside from making lasting friendships and connections, an outcome of the program of the program was my completely shifted worldview. I anticipated a change and widening of my perspectives, but when I came home, I realized how inspired I truly had become by the SIT faculty and program partners to implement changes into my own life. To this day, my mother still attributes many things I do to my time in India and recognizes how the program has challenged me to grow in ways that I would not have been exposed to anywhere else. For this I am grateful to the SIT faculty and our homestay families.

Did your experience change the direction of your academic or career path? Did it reinforce it? 

I entered the this program as a mechanical engineering major who thought better technology was needed to solve the world’s problems. After my experience in India, I came back to the University of Dayton and decided to change majors to human rights studies and completely changed my career trajectory for the better. While I still believe better technology can help address many of the world’s challenges, the program taught me that these challenges are not a question of the human capability to produce better technology, but rather, they are a question of the human capability to act as better humans towards one another and our planet.

We would find ourselves carried away by music and joy as we danced.

Describe something fun about the program.

Something I still carry with me in spirit and practice to this day is the power of a group of people sharing a meal and the joy from those people dancing together. Often, after ending a day researching or working on projects, we students along with the faculty and homestay families would share a meal together and we would find ourselves carried away by music and joy as we danced. My time in Sikkim and throughout India was accompanied by some of the best food I have ever tasted, amazing people, and an inspiration to dance that stays with me to this day.