No rose-coloured glasses for 'Mr Pink' after inspirational journey through India
Published:27 February 2017
1. Jamie Williams at the start of his journey. 2. Near the end of the journey, sporting a henna tattoo instead of his 'trademark dredlocks'. 3 and 4. Interacting with Indian school children.
CQUniversity student Jamie Williams is a larger-than-life character known as Mr P!nk on social media.
The aspiring Early Childhood teacher has recently returned from a life-changing journey through India, organised by the IndoGenius organisation and funded with help from Australia's New Colombo Plan Scholarship program.
The journey included the chance to hear from prominent thinkers and business leaders as well as acid-attack victims who run their own cafe, local people in markets and students who learn in cramped school facilities.
"Having spoken to the intelligent, amazing and kind students in India I can say that in Australia we are spoilt for choice in relation to our educational pathway options ... we are so blessed just how lucky we are," he says.
As a Rockhampton-based member of CQUniversity's Student Representative Council, Mr Williams is well-placed to transfer his learnings to the wider student cohort.
His journey took in the key Indian cities of Mumbai, Delhi, Agra and Gurgaon and included opportunities to discover the Australia-India relationship, India's economic transformation, local technology and innovation, temples and religious plurality, political systems, educational modes and tourist highlights.
He even had the chance to witness a Bollywood movie crew filming an 'extraordinary' street fight scene and viewed the 'mind-boggling' outdoor laundry known as the biggest in the world.
Mr Williams said he has returned home convinced that Australians should learn more about 'giving back'.
"The experience made me think about what we have here at home and how easy we have it," he says.
"One of our inspiring visits was to the Akshaya Patra Foundation, which provides 1.6 million nutritious meals to Indian school kids every day.
"We also got to sit down with some of the kids to eat and then did some dancing with the kids."
Mr Williams had the chance to visit KPMG India - which employs 18,000 (or 10 percent) of the company's worldwide workforce - as well as the Genesis Colors company which supplies luxury products to the upper classes.
He also learned about the extent of independent business and innovation happening within the sprawling Indian slums, which generates more than $1 billion in purchases each year.
"On our visit to the prestigious ITT Bombay Engineering Institute we learned that over 1 million people sit exams competing for only 1000 spots.
"Another visit to the SOS Wildlife Sanctuary brought tears to my eyes as they are saving elephants who are from circuses or who have been mismanaged and enabling them to live out their lives in comfort."
Mr Williams' transformative experiences extended to his own 'brand image' as he had his trademark dredlocks shaved off at the end of the trip, instead favouring an elaborate henna tattoo on his head.