Harshad arrived in the US from India in August of 2019 to pursue a PhD in Chemistry. When asked what he thought of the US at first, he recalls, “I like to visit new places and start new things so I was looking forward to the new experience.” Harshad was able to make friends quickly by going to different welcome events, one of which was an IFI welcome party.

Just before the pandemic shut everything down last year, Harshad was able to join IFI on a student trip to Washington D.C. where he made new friends and stayed at an IFI host home.

“I think going on the DC trip and seeing different places was great,” he says, “but the moments that meant a lot to me were sharing my meals with strangers, and staying in the same house with hosts who showed great kindness and hospitality.”

Harshard says the benefits of going on the trip didn’t end when it was over. He stayed in touch with friends he met, and still talks to several of them weekly. “They really got me through COVID.”

“They really got me through COVID.”

“I think long trips like the DC trip have a way of bringing people together. It’s different from meeting them once at an event and not meeting them again. I had a great time, made great friends, and shared a lot of wonderful moments in these tough times.”