Jasmin in India
I’m Jasmin and for five weeks over the summer 2013, I volunteered at St. George’s High School and Mission centre in Bangalore, India. I worked as a teaching assistant within the school and lived at the Mission centre with some of the children who attended the school.
MY FIRST IMPRESSIONS
I was more shocked by the Indian way of life than I had expected to be, and initially there was a lot which I found very confusing. There were aspects of Indian lifestyle which I did not agree with, however I also very quickly gained the impression that there were some amazing things about this country. Within a few days of arriving in India I had met some lovely people, in particular some inspirational children.
My project was a school for India children from a variety of backgrounds, and a mission centre where some of the less privileged children from the school, some of which were orphans, lived. The school and Mission Centre are Roman Catholic, and this has quite a large influence on the activities which the children carry out daily; for example group prayer sessions twice a day, and Christian songs taught in school.
MY ROLE IN (PROJECT)
I worked as a teaching assistant within the school during the day, and in the evenings I spent time with the children who lived at the Mission Centre; playing games and sports with them, helping them with their homework, carrying out my own activity ideas with them and just talking to them about their day!
Within the school one of my key tasks was to write out the children’s classwork, homework and notes home. As the school did not have photocopiers and I had to write the work out for all 60 children in the class this could be pretty time consuming!
MY HOSTING SITUATION IS
I lived on the project, in the Mission Centre. I had my own bedroom but lived on the same floor as the girls who stayed at the Mission Centre, sharing a bathroom (a tap and sink) with them. The boys who lived at the Mission centre lived in a small building opposite to us. Also living at the Mission Centre was a priest with his family, one teacher and the two cooks who stayed in a separate room with their sons.
A TYPICAL DAY FOR ME IS…
- Wake up at 6am and wash before walking 5 minutes to the school where I get on the school bus to collect some of the other children who love in different areas of Bangalore.
- At approximately 8:30 get off the school bus and return to the Mission Centre where breakfast will be ready for me (always curry ofcourse!)
- Work in the school until lunchtime, writing out classwork, homework and children’s diaries, marking work and assisting the children with their work.
- Assist the nursery and Kinder Garden children back on the lunchtime bus home
- Return to the school to complete further work in the afternoon, probably writing out classwork for the text few days.
- At 4pm everyday I would have chai and biscuits with the children at the Mission Centre
- Spend time watching the children play cricket, play games with them or sit talking to them in their rooms.
- Go with the children to chapel time at 7:30pm before eating at 8pm.
WHAT I’VE BEEN UP TO WHEN I’M NOT VOLUNTEERING
During the weekends I had some time to travel around. I took many trips into Bangalore city centre where I went shopping, ate out and watched Bollywood movies at the cinema!
I also took a trip to Mysore for a weekend, where I stayed in a hostel and visited monuments such as the Mysore Castle.
I spent some time relaxing and exploring with other volunteers who I met, such as a Dutch girl who was staying at the same project as me, and two German volunteers who lived in the same village.
THE MOST DIFFICULT THING ABOUT LIVING & VOLUNTEERING IN INDIA IS:
The most difficult thing which I found about my experience in India was witnessing children at the school be beaten as a form of punishment. I did not expect for this to be the chosen method of behaviour management and found it very upsetting to watch. I also found it difficult to know how to react to this situation, as I strongly disagreed with the staffs approach to discipline however I did not want to come across as being rude, or thinking I knew better than the people working in the school.
THE BEST THING ABOUT LIVING AND VOLUNTEERING IN INDIA IS
How much you learn about how completely different life can be! Many things about Indian lifestyle are very different to that of the western world, and volunteering in India made me realise this is not necessarily a bad thing! India is a country which is full of traditions; many of which result in beautiful clothes, lots of music and delicious smells and foods! There are so many amazing places to see in India and volunteering there just made me want to see more of them in the future!
FROM MY VOLUNTEER PLACEMENT I LEARNT/GAINED
That travelling alone isn’t so hard! It is a challenging but rewarding experience and one which I am very glad I have had! I learnt many things about Indian culture, but I also learnt that there is much more I am yet to learn and much more of the world which I am yet to explore!