On Wednesday, Caitlin Morelli, SSH’16, leaves Boston’s Logan Airport for Chhatrapati Shivaji International Airport in Mumbai, India—the site of her first stop in her new role as one of President Joseph E. Aoun’s first two student ambassadors, the Global Officers. The Westchester, New York, native will visit 10 cities in six countries during the first three months of the journey, meeting with a range of people who work in the social enterprise field. Here, she tells us more about how she’s prepared for this once-in-a-lifetime opportunity.
What part of the Global Officer experience are you most looking forward to?
The thought of all of the new and exciting people I will meet has made me most excited. In my opinion, the best part of traveling is making connections with new people, even if you only cross paths for a short time. I’ve met some incredible people within the social enterprise field who have been a huge inspiration to me, and I know that the interactions I will have over the next six months will provide me opportunities to keep learning. I’m also incredibly eager to try new food! I’ll try almost anything put on my plate, and I’ve spent the last few weeks researching new foods and flavors.
What do you expect your first few days to look like?
I chose to start my journey in Mumbai. India has always been at the top of my travel wish list, and I wanted to get far out of my comfort zone. I’ve never been to a mega-city before, so I think the first few days will consist of me finding my way around and arranging meetings for the week. I’m so thankful that several Northeastern alumni and students have already agreed to show me around, so I plan to connect with them over the first weekend. My fellow Global Officer Matt Bilotti, DMSB’15, and I have worked hard planning our itineraries and mapping out our goals, but neither of us knows how things will go once we hit the ground running. I think this first trip will involve a lot of trial and error while we get into the groove of our jobs.
Is there anything special you’re taking with you?
I always travel with chocolate. A great piece of advice I once got about traveling is to always have comfort food on hand for days you might get sick or miss home. For me that’s always chocolate or peanut butter. Not to say I won’t be trying all the food I can get my hands on, it’s just nice to have around. I’m also taking a Canon A-1 film camera that my parents bought me for Christmas. It weighs a lot, but I’m trying to get better at photography and want to capture all of the beautiful places I will see on film.
What do you think will be the biggest challenge?
Traveling alone will challenge me in new ways. Constantly being on the go can be exhausting, and in my experience, it always helps to have friends around to get you through those low points while traveling. I’m sure there will be times when I get homesick or days in which nothing seems to go right, but I also know my friends and family back home are just a video call away—not to mention everyone at Northeastern who has been so supportive. Luckily, I’ll be meeting Northeastern students, parents, and alumni along the way who have agreed to give me a temporary home away from home. I don’t think I’ll be lonely with such a great network of people.
What’s the best piece of advice you’ve received while preparing for this experience?
“Develop a routine and stick to it.” Whether that’s running every morning, writing in a journal, or taking a few minutes to reflect on the day, I’ve been told how important it is to develop small routines that keep you grounded when things get crazy. I’ve told myself I’ll keep a journal, so hopefully I can keep it up.
The other piece of advice that I loved is to be open-minded and present in my interactions with new people. You never know what you will learn if you really invest in a conversation with someone and put aside all the little gadgets that are constant distractions. I hope I am able to embody this mindset throughout my trip and make some lifelong connections along the way.