By Ajay Anand (Lauder/WG ’13 and member of Lauder’s first Hindi program)
It was 2011. Five of us stared at each other around a small table in Lauder-Fischer Hall on a sunny May morning, each carrying twenty percent of the hopes and dreams of Lauder’s newly minted Hindi track.
Little did I know just how familiar two of those faces would become over the next two years of exploring our world, staring back at me as we underwent questioning in a rebel base in North Syria and after finding cover from snipers firing from the roof of the Muslim Brotherhood headquarters during Egypt’s recent revolution.
In and out of the classroom the three of us pushed and pulled each other’s global curiosity, on a race to visit one hundred countries; trading history books, drooling over ethnic food, starting a political t-shirt business, fighting over ideology, and finding ourselves on an impromptu road trip from Philly to Alaska and back between classes.
Just days after overlanding from Vienna to Istanbul with Lauder’s Culture Quest, I won the race and joined the Traveler’s Century Club, which feels like a sort of geriatric version of Lauder. I’d bet that the TCC is the only other community where I could have stumbled on two travel buddies who get it – who will eat anything, sleep anywhere, and talk to anyone just to understand this crazy world and ultimately go do something about everything that’s wrong in it.
It was with Lauder’s funding that we studied child labor in Bangladesh and the Philippines and co-authored a controversial article highlighting India’s rampant corruption.
Two wild years later, we came out with the business skills and life experiences that inform our every step. I see it translate every day, as my enterprise software company helps leadership at the United Nations agencies and the World Bank rethink how they manage international development initiatives.
Wharton without Lauder would have been a different trip altogether. I’m glad I didn’t miss this bus.
Leaving Syria in March of 2013
From left to right: Ajay Anand, Roopak Majmudar, Arzan Raimalwala