My name is Derek Ward-Hall, I am a 4th(ish) year student in the Bachelor of Business Administration program at UFV. In May, I packed up my bags and moved to Chandigarh for a seven month stint at UFV India.
The decision of why I wanted to come to India is not extremely complex. First, growing up in Abbotsford I was exposed to the Indo-Canadian culture my entire life. Whether it was attending a Diwali festival, eating butter chicken at my favorite restaurant, or chatting with my fellow Indo-Canadian classmates, my curiosity about India as a country and a culture has grown year by year.
However, I think my curiosity and fascination hit a crescendo while I was working at UFV Student Life for a little over two years. While working for UFV Student Life we were lucky enough to share Uhouse with the Centre for Indo-Canadian Studies, and honestly, we could not have asked for better neighbours. Every person I met who works for the CICS are some of the warmest, inviting, and capable people I have ever met at UFV. It would sometimes feel like UHouse would turn into OurHouse when we shared meals and traded stories.
On top of all the delicious food and hearty laughs we shared, I got to witness the preparation and execution of many CICS events, including all the hard work that went into the Komagata Maru play last year. The sheer amount of hours and dedication that went into this one single event still blows my mind. It was without a doubt attending many of these outstanding events that lit the final spark in my burning India curiosity.
That is why when I heard UFV was offering a $2,500 scholarship to study at our Chandigarh campus, I jumped all over the opportunity and began researching the steps required for me to attend classes for the fall 2015 semester. However life would throw me a curve ball during this process, a curve ball in the form of Qbiz. Qbiz is an annual business quiz completion ran by UFV India for all grade 11 and 12 students from across North India. The program travels to 150 schools over 20 cities, and reaches 18,000 students. It is by far one of their biggest and active programs.
After hearing about my work and volunteer experience during my interview process to attend classes, I was offered the opportunity to travel to India a couple months early and co-manage the 2015 Qbiz program. To say I was shocked would be an understatement, in fact I am still trying to pick my jaw up from the floor. Nevertheless, the opportunity was too good to pass up, and my original one semester plan got extend to a seven month crazy journey.
As we speak, I am currently typing this article on my laptop, sitting in a car traveling back to Chandigarh after a four day trip through the Punjab region conducting the Qbiz quiz. I will be back in Chandigarh for less the 24 hours before moving on to Shimla, and then directly to Dehradun afterwards. Even though these days I spend the majority of my time in a car jumping from city to city, I am having the time of my life. I am getting a glimpse into the vastly different Indian education system, seeing some of the most beautiful hill station cities India has to offer, and experiencing Indian hospitality at its finest. Everywhere I have traveled I have been greeted with open arms, warm smiles, and delicious tea. I think it is the tea I will miss most of all.
Then entire staff at UFV India have also treated me like family since day one. They brought me into the fold, and helped my get settled into my new home away from home with as little trouble as possible. They are probably also some of the hardest working, most dedicated employees UFV has to offer. They all work six days a week, often putting in more hours than they are required, and have doubled their enrollment intact in a single year! These are definitely the unsung heroes of UFV…and im proud to be a small part of them, even if it is only for seven months.