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Life after the Fellowship: Prashant Gautam

As I started moving with the Erasmus Mundus European Master in Tourism Management program, from Denmark to Slovenia and, finally, Spain, I realized that this was like living YIF all over again.

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31 October, 2017 | read

Earlier this month, I graduated from the Erasmus Mundus European Master in Tourism Management (EMTM) Program, an academic adventure I had embarked upon two years ago. After completing my year at the Young India Fellowship, in 2013, a two year corporate stint followed, but I was soon drawn back to the domain of heritage and tourism, because that’s where my story really begins.

As a disenchanted 18-year-old engineering student, I started working with ITIHAAS, a Delhi-based organization that allowed me the platform to take heritage education and active citizenship to thousands of school students from the city. An association that lasted throughout my university years, and went from strength to strength, also brought me to YIF, where my efforts were recognized and felicitated with an opportunity to join the program.

What drew me to EMTM, some three years later, was the prospect of another enriching academic experience in three vibrant corners of Europe, the Mecca of global tourism. As I started moving with the program, from Denmark to Slovenia and, finally, Spain, I realized that this was like living YIF all over again.

With ‘Sustainability’ steadily becoming our academic raison d’être, the multiple perspectives and diverse opinions continued to be very much in place, as I shared space with classmates from 22 different nationalities who wanted to learn about tourism through the lenses of History, Art Appreciation, Hospitality, Consumer Psychology, Sports and Marine Biology! I was fortunate to get the chance to enrich my experience further by receiving an Erasmus+ grant to move to the Voronezh State University in Russia, for the last semester, to work on my Master’s Thesis that explored the influences Bollywood movies have on the travel behaviour of Indian tourists in Europe.

My time in Europe overlapped with several historic events in this part of the world, from the Syrian Refugee Crisis to Brexit, and now the Catalonian Independence Movement in Spain, and the multilayered realities of these issues have demolished and rebuilt my worldview many times over!

After having shared rooms, meals and conversations with countless individuals from the most unexpected parts of the planet, while travelling around over 15 countries in Europe, I have come to realize that beyond the façade of cultural differences and ethnic unfamiliarity lie the most essential human reality – extend a slice of warmth and sincerity, and you are sure to strike upon an immense reserve of kindness. Here’s to never losing sight of this mantra as I continue to engage with life and its many wonders.

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