Access to the Real World
Growing up in the western New York city of Batavia, Samir Jain ’19 was introduced to the Indian folk dance bhangra by a family friend.
Bhangra helped link Jain to his heritage; both parents are from India.
When he arrived at ILR as a freshman, he joined Cornell Bhangra. The high-energy activity offered stress relief, a sense of community and a fusion of Indian and Western cultures.
“It’s a really fascinating amalgamation of the two cultures,” Jain said. “That’s one of the reasons I do it — so I can spread my culture.”
When traveling the East Coast to perform, Cornell students meet and become close friends with dancers from other collegiate teams. “It’s a really cool network” that has become like family.
The dance blends well with Jain’s academic work. He is focusing on organizational behavior and conflict resolution, with the possible goal of a career in human capital consulting. “I’ve always been very interested in how people interact and why they do what they do.”
Last summer, he was a High Road scholar learning about management of a small nonprofit at the Arab-American Community Center for Economic and Social Services of Western New York. This summer, he will be working in human resources at Corning Inc.
This past winter, Jain was among students in the Vietnam Engaged Learning Team. “It was such a cool cultural immersion combined with a research opportunity,” Jain said. “There’s nothing like actually going there.”
By talking with individuals, he learned that some initiatives are impractical. “Vietnam’s labor laws on paper are some of the best in the world,” he said. To appease the international community, laws are passed, but the infrastructure for enforcement is lacking, Jain said.
Culturally, the trip was eye opening. People in the United States often look at Vietnam as though time stopped after the Vietnam War, but the country is steeped in contemporary Western culture, Jain observed.
“One of the things ILR has been great at is giving resources to pursue opportunities,” Jain said. For instance, his internship last summer was paid through the generosity of Lisa Yang ’74. “It’s a unique opportunity that you probably wouldn’t find at any other school.”
“Those are the opportunities ILR has given me to grow academically and reflect on what I want to achieve as a person.”