Social Work Major
India: Sustainability in the Developing World
Winter break 2016
Headed to visit Toyota! Within the first 20 minutes of our bus drive nearly everyone was asleep.
After an hour or so of driving to Toyota we made a pit stop at a cluster of shops and restaurants to use the restrooms. Everyone loaded up on bottled Coca Cola, KFC and potato chips and then we were back on the road. After driving a few miles, we had to turn around because Julie lost her camera back at the shops. It was great to experience because everyone on the bus came together and scoured the bathroom, gift shops and bus to help her find it… but unfortunately we had no luck.
When we arrived on campus at Toyota we were told we needed to wear pants, long sleeves and weren’t allowed to bring our bags or cameras, which included cell phones. Our group was escorted to lunch immediately upon arrival and greeted with exceptional table service from the Toyota staff, even the President of the company joined! The hospitality in India is second to none. Whether we’re having lunch in a world class hotel, visiting the slums, passing a doorman or engaging with an executive of a multibillion dollar company, we are treated with exceptional service, gratitude and a kindness not often found in America. After lunch we found ourselves in a conference room where we listened to a presentation overview of Toyota and learned more about their CSR efforts. It is fascinating to hear how the company caters to their particular market to the extent of ensuring the dashboard in vehicles sold in this country are flat (instead of curved) so Indian consumers can decorate it with symbolic figures and items of importance. During the presentation, Julie found her camera in her shirt. It was a wonderful and hilarious discovery which added a little humor to everyone’s day!! Most of Toyota’s responsibility and sustainability efforts are geared towards carbon emissions, water conservation, planting saplings, providing toilets to those in need, maintaining jobs instead of automation (when it’s an option), teaching road safety and providing education to employees. I wonder to myself with Toyota being a large, global company could they be doing more. Without a clear path, a clear tie to the company’s mission and goals, how much bigger could their impact potential be? Is simply doing good, good enough? After the lecture, we rode buses around the campus and had a tour of the manufacturing plant where we could see the cars being assembled, different efforts to support workers physically and encourage them to implement efficiency in their work zones to ensure the utmost quality and productivity.
Upon arriving at back at the Christ University campus, we made it just in time to see a Christmas show that students prepared in just four days! It was very well executed and just what we needed to wind down the night as we head into Christmas. The show was humorous and told the history of Christmas with dances to familiar tunes and Santa was the main character. It’s funny in country leading in technology how often they experience challenges with presentations and audio. In the picture below you can see Santa being smoked off stage – oops!
The day felt exceptionally longer than the other days. I think it’s because we were between stops and had a lot of time on the bus. Dinner was delicious as usual and we had a sense of “home” eating some French fries! The night ended with a wonderful group reflection of all the unique cultural traits we witness in our encounters, such as: head bobble, answering cell phones (anytime/anywhere), starting and stopping meetings with coffee and tea, building power outages that illicit zero response (most of the time), presents provided to speakers, personal space or lack thereof and strangers asking to have pictures with us, just to name a few!!