Sean Fisher India

Names of staff involved in your programme:

Bala Murali

What members of staff do you remember the most and why?
Bala – project coordinator and Buna – school principal both made us feel very welcome and were very often on site to give assistance.

What were your impressions of the accommodation?
It was very basic and a little overcrowded with volunteers but had everything we needed.

Why did you want to volunteer?
I’m entering into the teaching profession and was interested in seeing the differences in the education systems over there compared to at home. I also desired to challenge myself and move myself out of my comfort zone both socially and culturally.

Do you feel you made a difference, how?
On a small scale, yes. It was very rewarding to notice after 2 weeks with one class that they were beginning to understand what you were teaching them.

What did you do for fun?
There were regular buses running to the nearby town of Viluppuram where we went regularly to the supermarket and to get lovely traditional food in the restaurant. I also enjoyed walking to the nearby “Rocks” – a large, very unique geomorphological feature about 1 hours walk from the school where the views were breath-taking.

When was your most enjoyable experience, do you have an interesting story?
There was a 4 year old boy in the class that I was working with who would roll up the sleeves on his uniform purely because I did the same; he mimicked a lot of my mannerisms and would repeat words and phrases in my accent – it was very funny seeing Indian kids speaking in a strong Irish accent!

Who did you make friends with and for what reasons?
As the majority of the other volunteers were of a similar age, and many of them also going into teaching careers, I made a lot of good friends in the other volunteers. It was very easy to make friends with local people in the village and nearby areas as they were so friendly and welcoming to westerners!

Would you considering going again or perhaps to another project with Original Volunteers? Please explain why.
I am definitely considering another project with Original Volunteers next summer, or perhaps sooner! I think it is a brilliant experience and a great way to promote sustainable tourism by giving back to the area you are visiting.

What would you say/recommend to a friend who was interested in volunteering? Go for it! 
Don’t hold back – just dive straight in! It takes very little organising really as accommodation is mostly provided so all you need to bring is yourself (and books/toys for the children!)

What items would you suggest future volunteers take? 
A torch, toilet roll, baby wipes, a good insect repellent, respectable clothing for when you are out in the local community, photos of home to show the locals what home is to you.

Could you offer any tips to future volunteers?
I went in June – this was a convenient time to me as it was summer holiday season at home but it was also the warmest time of year in India! I would recommend avoiding this time as it is so intensely warm and dry.