“Honestly, the Red Sox drew me to Boston: growing up abroad my experience of the United States was pop culture, the influence of my parents and baseball. Within the ex-pat bubble in India, watching the Red Sox at 5 am was my little slice of Americana.
I only applied to programs in Boston. As the child of two entrepreneurs who started their own businesses oversees, Northeastern immediately stood out to me as the most apparent avenue for developing my childhood dream of starting my own business.
I’m happy to say my degree in anthropology assisted me in doing just that: starting Grand Slam Baseball, a baseball program for Indian youth in 16 influential schools that we are cultivating in line with Major League International’s development goals.
I was born an overseas American and saw India rapidly change through my childhood, so I always saw things from a slightly different, cross-cultural perspective. I chose to study anthropology so I could better articulate my surroundings and far more effectively act and contribute in that space.
Training in anthropology helped me leverage my unique position as a product of two cultures. My coursework and work experience at Northeastern equipped me with tools to build a business that creates cultural fluency and mobility through sport.
Taking “ANTH 3120 Consumer Cultures” with Nina Sylvanus, and “ANTH 2305 Global Markets and Local Cultures” with Jeff Juris, showed me that anthropology goes far beyond looking at obscure cultures. I realized that anthropology can be marketing and business from a different, perhaps more human, point of view. Anthropology gives you a unique lens through which you can engage almost any discipline. For instance, Shoveling Smoke is a book that we studied about how India’s entry in the global market prompted an identity crisis about global versus local and the value of Indian, goods, thoughts and culture relative to the rest of the world. I realized the status of Indian commodities was inextricably tied to questions of culture. I don’t think I would have made this connection from a strictly business perspective.
“ANTH 2365 Sport, Culture, and Society“: Right off the bat, my first course was with Alan Klein, whose is a prominent anthropologist of sport and influential figure in international baseball development. Klein showed me that professors here aren’t just speaking from an abstract space on the side-lines, but from the thick of it, actively involved in making a difference in the world.
“Entrepreneurship” with John Friar in the D’Amore-McKim Business School was an extremely valuable experience. Many people assume anthropology is a strictly academic pursuit. That is not the case at Northeastern. When I combined my anthropology work with entrepreneurship, I realized the program was flexible enough to allow me to pursue my own dreams and develop a business that has been a great success.
Indecisiveness in my first year meant that my first co-op was not something I would have expected or picked as my first choice. Looking back on the experience, however, I realized I picked up myriad skills instrumental in my professional development. I worked for Northeastern’s Off Campus Student Services in a two-person office acting as a conduit between tenants (students) and landlords, and helping international students navigate their arrival to the city. It was an education in conflict resolution and helped me appreciate an institutional perspective while still enrolled as a student. Exposure to multiple perspectives gave me the confidence to start my own business and realize the demands of catering to multiple audiences.
With the help of enthusiastic professors and my amazing co-op coordinator, Lisa Worsh, I was able to start a business I have dreamed of pursuing since childhood. I returned to India to start Grand Slam Baseball, using the skills I had picked up in classes and my first co-op to create a strong multicultural baseball experience for our players and their families.
For my final co-op, I returned to India and hired two co-op students of my own to help build our thriving baseball organization. I can’t think of another university that gives students such a valuable balance of autonomy and support for professional pursuits. I had my pick of a wealth of ambitious, globally-minded students who applied. This third co-op was significant because it taught me about managing people my own age and it taught me a lot about representing myself, my ideas and even my culture as American’s overseas.
Richard Verma, U.S. Ambassador to India, has described Grand Slam as “Sports Diplomacy in Action”. My degree in anthropology helped me become a leader in developing this concept. Sports are a form of cultural expression that pervade many aspects of society, through learning to play baseball, students in Grand Slam gain a fluency in U.S. society which becomes a bridge to both American ways of life and the American educational system. Through Grand Slam we help our students prepare to succeed in college and life as more globally-minded Indians. Studying the role and importance of culture helped me recognize the unique niche for people like me who grew up between cultures. I want to continue cultivating cross-cultural spaces that give youth the fluency and tools to navigate the currents of globalization to their benefit. Developing a viable baseball market in India is the next step in growing this flourishing global connection.”