Teaching Volunteer Reviews India

Teaching assistant celebrates landmark birthday by volunteering at a community project in India.

A Teaching assistant from London decided to celebrate her 50th birthday by volunteering at a Community project in India during the Monsoon season.

Chandrika Patel decided not to tell friends and family until just before leaving for India in late July 2009.

She a rived during a time of high security in the country due to a visit by Hilary Clinton, and in the middle of the Monsoon season, but described her time there as very interesting, and enjoyable.

Chandrika’s experience of working with children, and an arts background came in useful when she involved the children in a book project, and making flowers out of locally bought different coloured cardboard files.

She celebrated her birthday with fellow volunteers all dressed up in traditional Indian clothing, and she treated them to cakes, pastries, and other traditional Indian foods, and drink.

She described the local people as ‘so friendly’, and has recommended volunteering abroad to other people upon her return to the U.K. she hopes to volunteer again at some point in the future.

Chandrika, who also spent a short time travelling across India during her stay, felt that it was very useful that she was able to speak Hindi as well as English.

She has given a package of arts materials, and photographs that she took during her stay to her parents to take with them when they are flying out to India soon.

She also hopes to make more donations in the future.

A happy belated birthday to Chandrika from all of us at Original volunteers, and should you decide that you would like to celebrate your birthday volunteering abroad do not hesitate to contact us on 01603 859689

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Volunteer in India

Simon’s visit to the India project

I volunteered in India for 2 weeks in July. I didn’t want to commit to volunteering for longer as it was my first time and I wanted to leave a couple of weeks for travel afterwards. Looking back I wish I’d stayed for longer. After 2 weeks, I was only just getting the to know the family and using some Hindi for the first time.

When I was there all the volunteers were living with the same family together so you really get a feel of the Indian way of life . There were even normal beds to sleep in which was a bonus as I somehow thought we would be sleeping on the floor.

I offered to help in the fields, some of the volunteers who were there longer started teaching in the little school. I also helped to build a wall which was great fun until the money ran out!

Also, there was a guy there called Alex who asked to go up north for a while to a poorer school and Su organised it all for him and sent him clean underwear, etc so you have that opportunity too.

Think the main advice I’d give you is go with an open mind and enjoy yourself. I don’t know your past experience but if you’ve never been in Thailand before you’ll realise it’s a lot different from here, from standing up for the national anthem at assembly every morning to ‘wai’ing people instead of shaking hands. If you have fun and the kids have fun everyone will benefit so I wish you all the best.

I could talk for days about it but I’ll stop there and if you have any questions don’t hesitate to get in touch.
Have a great time!

Simon volunteered in Thailand and India

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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.

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Gillian Phair India

What members of staff do you remember the most and why?

Bala and Buna and some of their extended family were the only staff members. They ran the school well. I especially enjoyed the school assembly at the start of the day. It really got all the kids in order and was a good exercise of disapline.

What were your impressions of the accommodation?
They were pretty basic as I was expecting..

Why did you want to volunteer? 
Would be great experience, something different.

What did you do for fun?
We talked a lot, went to the pool or the markets. At weekends we visited mamallapurram and Pondicherry . We took a visit to some nearby mangroves and that was such a beautiful experience. There is a large outcrop of rocks very nearby.. imagine lion king landscape and you’ll understand how epic it looks!

When was your most enjoyable experience, do you have an interesting story?
Just getting to know the kids and learning so much about their lives and cultures.

Who did you make friends with and for what reasons?
I made friends with many of the volunteers which was great, it’s great how much you get to know people when you don’t have tv’s or computers or anything and you just interact with everyone.

What were the names of the best places to hang out and socialise
One particular restaurant we crowned ‘the disco restaurant’ because of the cool light display inside.. nice cheap food too! There was also a nice swimming pool in town and lots of good markets.

Would you considering going again or perhaps to another project with Original Volunteers?
Perhaps another project, I don’t think I’m cut out to be a teacher so a different project would be preferable!

What would you say/recommend to a friend who was interested in volunteering?
Do it! Great experience… don’t be scared.. arriving there is a pretty daunting experience and culture shock hits you the moment you get off the plane but it’s an incredible country and the whole volunteering experience was amazing and I don’t regret a thing!

What items would you suggest future volunteers pack?
Hand sanitiser. Small bag for weekend excursions. Light raincoat in monsoon season. Don’t bring a suitcase if you go travelling!! The terrain is rough even around town and city streets and the wheels on mine broke, thankfully I was able to find a mediocre rucksack but another traveller may not be as lucky

How much money would you suggest you take per week?
Life is so cheap out in India.. food is £1 or so a night.. While volunteering you might spend maximum £20 a week but travelling you’ll be sure to spend more but there are cash machines in villupurram which is easily accessible.

Could you offer any tips to future volunteers? 
Definitely go travelling around India aswel for the full experiece Indian coffee houses make the best omlettes ever.

Anything else to share?
One of the moments that really stuck out for me was when one of the girls in my class became really keen on geography, which is what I study at university. Among all our children’s reading books we had a road atlas book of London and at the end of everyday when it was playtime, boomika would come up to me and say ‘miss! London book, miss! London book!’ so we would sit and go through it and I would tell her about the rivers, hospitals, roads, houses and she really learnt a lot of vocabulary and vital skills on how to read a map… and it was really cute that she wanted to spend her play time reading a map with me

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Louis Gray India

What members of staff do you remember the most and why?

Teachers 

What were your impressions of the accommodation?
It was very basic but no less than what I expected, to be honest I was just happy I had a bed of any sort.

Why did you want to volunteer? 
I wanted to be a volunteer first and foremost to really experience India and see what it’s like for the children that live there. Furthermore I have always been interested in teaching as a future profession so I wanted to gain some practice on what it’s like to work in a school, however different it may be.

Do you feel you made a difference, how?
I believe, and hope, that I made a difference. I became very close with some of the children and I changed their exams paper to be more relevant as well as some of the mistakes in the text books. I hope that people will continue to point out where the teaching has gone wrong so the school can develop.

What did you do for fun?
Whilst I was at the school we played a lot of cards and a fair bit of cricket in the schoolyard. There was also a lot of general chit chat as I didn’t know anyone else there so I had lots to find out. For the weekends we would go away to Pondicherry or Mamallapuram and have a drink and chill in a hotel.

When was your most enjoyable experience, do you have an interesting story?
The most enjoyable experience I had was just generally working within my class(5-6 year olds). But also running an after school cricket club with some of the older children. As far as I know it hadn’t been done before and we played a couple of games using a water bottle as a bat. It was good to see the kids being sporty and active after school had finished. Although there were a couple of arguments over who was in to bat.

Who did you make friends with and for what reasons?
I pretty much made friends with everyone there but I suppose my closest friends were the ones who arrived around the time I did. Gary and Benj mainly because they were quite laddish and there weren’t many guys there. Then Lauren, Gemma and Kat who I went travelling with afterwards were just awesome company in short.

What were the names of the best places to hang out and socialise
There aren’t really any places to hang out around the school except the schoolyard and Chapatti man’s place in the village. I suppose Pondicherry and Mamallpuram were the palces to hang out but they were a couple of hours away from Kanjunar.

Would you considering going again or perhaps to another project with Original Volunteers?
I would absolutely consider volunteering again. Once I have the money and have finished University , and hopefully have job, I would love to volunteer in South America. This is mainly because I have never been to that part of the world and I think volunteering is really good for myself and for the places where I volunteer.

What would you say/recommend to a friend who was interested in volunteering?
I would tell them to go firstly. I’d also tell them to be prepared for any sort of illness and accommodation. Just to take everything on the chin and to throw yourself into everything with complete enthusiasm. Too many people reserved themselves.

What items would you suggest future volunteers pack?
A head torch is essential. I didn’t have one and when the power cuts off at 10 in the night and you can’t see the toilet its near impossible to not fall through the hole. Also lots of Imodium and Diarolyte

How much money would you suggest you take per week?
For staying at the school you need next to nothing. 2 pounds a day for the weekdays. However if you plan to go away at the weekend take a lot more because they become expensive. Up to 10/15 pounds a day for the weekend.

Could you offer any tips to future volunteers? 
Just to expect the worst because no ones body is going to be prepared for the change in diet and climate so just accept that it’s going to happen. I’d also advise only going on your own or possibly as a two. The larger groups of people tend to keep to themselves and as a result miss out on meeting everyone.

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Emma Quinn in India

Emma Quinn in India – Review 2012

What members of staff do you remember the most and why?
Bala was very friendly on arrival, eventaking us to our first Indian breakfast! The security was slightly humorous in the form of three, elderly looking women, lying sleeping on the dusty ground as we slept.

What were your impressions of the accommodation?
The accommodation was shocking upon arrival –extremely basic. But this after all was what we had signed up for!

Why did you want to volunteer? 
I’ve have always wanted to travel to India andso this presented the perfect opportunity as it combined this with my love of education. Perhaps selfishly I thought it would also help me in the long run as I consider a career following this path.

Do you feel you made a difference, how?
In terms of educating I don’t feel we really made a great difference. I got the younger kids, and gaining their attention never mind trying to teach them anything was a daily struggle. Due tothe sheer heat and lack of ventilation, they usually just cried on the ground or passed out!

What did you do for fun?
We travelled in the local town A LOT. We were staying in a very rural area with nothing much to do. We went on an hour long walk up to an amazing sightthat looked like something from an other planets, a rock wonderland. Often we brought the newer volunteers here after they had settled in. this was the way of life – passing on information from your forfriends to the newbies! We ate out A LOT also. This was always afun experience. The locals would come and watch us eat which was a little strange at the start. A few of the other volunteers also went to the local swimming pool – in full attire.. I didn’t fancy it myself.

When was your most enjoyable experience, do you have an interesting story?
Weekend trips to Mammalapurum were HEAVEN.When you had something that resembled a REAL SHOWER!!! And also a toilet… witha seat! These little luxuries are something you forget about, but when you live without them you come to appreciate things. The weekends here were super fun. Back at the school you didn’t have the opportunity to do much and Bala wanted us backbefore it got dark – and dangerous…dun dun dunnn. These weekends we would try the local hotspots, the ridiculously overpriced clubs that were empty, nights of oh so disgusting beer, and generally having a good time with people you may never have met.

Who did you make friends with and for what reasons?
I made friends with all the other volunteers, a few I am very close to! We are in the middle of arranging another little get together now were all back on home turf. We were always in close proximity and never apart nor alone, so you forge strong relationships that will hopefully last time.

What were the names of the best places to hang out and socialise
Mammalapurum – perhaps spelt wrongly. A little rice stand in Kanjanur village itself – local food was fine to eat despite all the stories of Delhi belly.

Would you considering going again or perhaps to another project with Original Volunteers?
Most definitely. I would go to another destination.

What items would you suggest future volunteers take?
TORCH. I FORGOT ONE! ENTIRELLY NECESSARY. LOTS OF INSECT REPELLENT. TOPS WITH ¾ SLEEVES. LOOSE FITTING LONG TROUSERS.

 

How much money would you suggest you take per week?
I really don’t recall what I spend but I know everything was dirt cheap. It just depends if you want to buy a lot of gifts etc in the more touristy towns.

Could you offer any tips to future volunteers?
Don’t expect anything. Go with an openmind, and throw yourself into the new environment!

Read more about our: Volunteers in Asian case studies