Skip to main content

Nichole Molinari

SFU Co-op Student
Health Sciences

empty
Children holding hands and playing in front of a hut
Being immersed into and gaining knowledge of another culture, becoming acquainted and establishing myself within a novel and thrilling city and work environment has truly allowed me to grow and develop myself.

Destiny Reflection/Foundation is based in Kolkata, India, and works to economically empower survivors of human trafficking or women at high risk of being exploited. Destiny Foundation is the organization’s charity arm, which provides vocational skills training and social programming; whereas the social enterprise business arm, Destiny Reflection, provides creative employment opportunities, a fair living wage, and a safe work environment.

Kolkata
People lining up to enter a colourful building
Busy Streets of Kolkata

The city, Kolkata, where Destiny is located, is an enchanting, provoking and evocative city. The people of West Bengal share a wonderful genuineness, kindness, and proudness; they place immense value on culture, arts and learning; and, there is nothing a Bengali likes better than food, festivals, family and friends.

I was completely immersed in the street scenes of the city, the fantastic sights, smells and sounds, and, the ways of life and spirituality of its people. I felt “at home” in Kolkata. I was treated as a local, even if the intrigued questions and stares were constant.

Work LIfe

This International Co-op placement facilitated great personal, professional and academic growth and development. Myself, and another fellow Health Sciences student, were integrated into a completely different culture, work environment and work ethic, and into an organization that was experiencing its own expansion and development. Our work at Destiny was extremely flexible; we were given no task list or organizational structure. As long as we did our work, and remained accountable to ourselves and the organization, we could take days off to take trips around West Bengal every other weekend, often for 3 or 4 days at a time. We made up for the time spent traveling during the next week, or during evenings. We were able to determine our work role and generate our tasks and projects collaboratively, in response to the needs of the organization. In India, the concept of work and productivity are completely distinct from North American understandings. Work was undertaken with minimal management supervision and few resources, enabling us to bolster our leadership and organization skills, and self-sufficiency and adaptability. It took some adjustment, and finding a fine balance, but I became adept at fitting ideas and action for the organization within the cultural framework of Kolkata, India. I gained an understanding of, and garnered competence in intercultural communication. Having the opportunity to get to know the spirited and inspiring staff and women employed at Destiny, and to work amongst such wonderful ideas and goals was definitely the highlight of my time at Destiny.

Coming Home
Nichole and some friends standing behind the dining table filled with dishes
Nichole and Some Friends in India

Upon returning to Canada, my Co-op partner and I have formed a club at SFU, SFU Student Advocates for the Elimination of Global Enslavement, with the hope to raise awareness of the pertinent issues of human trafficking and modern day slavery, and to remain connected to Destiny to assist in fulfilling the overarching aims of the organization and facilitate market access for their products.

The placement at Destiny Reflection has been an immensely expanding, and enlightening opportunity for me. Being immersed into and gaining knowledge of another culture, becoming acquainted and establishing myself within a novel and thrilling city and work environment has truly allowed me to grow and develop myself. Each and every experience, skill and knowledge I have gained during this time is transferable to my personal, career and academic future.

Beyond the Blog

About the Author

Nichole Molinari

SFU Co-op Student
Health Sciences

You Might Like These... International, Life Experience, Co-operative Education

Korea
International Spotlight: Korea

Bordered by China, Russia, and separated from Japan by the Korea Strait, Korea makes for a strong international hub of Asia.

California
International Spotlight: California

Sunny California is not only one of the favorite tourist destinations but also a state with a variety of opportunities.

Kaleigh sitting on a cliff staring out to the wilderness
My Co-op Work Term in Gaborone | Part Two

In Part 2 of her series, Health Sciences Co-op student Kaleigh Banister gets into the local Gabarone culture and takes a bit of time to explore the natural wonders she’s surrounded by.

Children holding hands and playing in front of a hut
library_books
Blog
My Time At Destiny Reflection/Foundation
International, Workplace Culture, Co-op Reflections, Community Engagement, Intercultural Communication, Culture

Nicole Molinari is a Health Sciences BA student who shares her experience working in Kolkata, India, where she worked with Destiny Reflection/Foundation, an organization that works to empower survivors of human trafficking and at-risk women.

You Might Like These... During the Work Term

a neon glowing building
Cultural Competence and Working Abroad

Have you landed an International Co-op work-term and begun preparing for your semester abroad? Surely, you have done your research and are aware of the cultural differences and nuances between where you are going, and your home country? If you haven’t, have no fear! This article is meant to help you understand the basic tips and tricks to adjust to the cultural differences in your new workplace, making your transition much easier.

Laura posing in front an airplane
Considering International Co-op? Some Helpful Tips to get You Started

Trying to decide if going on an International Co-op Placement is right for you?  Follow these words of advice so you can make a well informed decision.

Claire and her students
Heat in Catalonia: Lessons from International Co-op

A student desperately wanting to have class outside suggested we put the decision to a vote. An overwhelming amount of hands went up for having class in the sun and I paused to think about how I could adjust my lesson plan without a chalkboard. The students saw my hesitation and said, “but Claire, don’t you believe in our right to have a democracy?”. This was when I knew I would learn a lot more than just how to teach, from my international co-op term in Catalonia.