Becky is our Volunteer Co-ordinator for the team of volunteers heading to India on July 19th, last year Becky spent four weeks volunteering in a primary school in India, find out more about her experience and recommendations below!
I’m currently a sociology student in my second year at Manchester Metropolitan University. I love photography and art, animals of every kind, reading, spicy food, old music and a good party. I hate being too serious, having nothing to do, and getting to the end of a brilliant TV series. I’ve always been keen on volunteering since high school when I volunteered in a club for adults with special needs, then went onto volunteer in the special needs department in my free periods in college. I volunteered with VESL in 2013 in India, where I spend 4weeks teaching and 2 weeks travelling – I flew up to Mumbai and railed back down to Trivandrum. I also spent weekends travelling in the south of India.
As far as fundraising is concerned, I’m planning a bagpack in a local supermarket as part of my fundraising, as last year I made just short of £600 doing a bag pack! I will also be doing another sponsored mountain climb with friends because it’s a great day out as well as raising money! Aside from this, I will hopefully be able to get involved with some local events at pubs and youth clubs doing cake sales and games as I did last year.
What is the one thing you wouldn’t go overseas without?
What is the one thing you would advise volunteers not to pack?
To many toiletries, you can get plenty out there and they weigh a ton!
If you could give one piece of advice what would it be?
The more open minded you are, the more you will get out of your experience! Don’t be frightened to do things and embrace the culture as much as you can.
What are you most looking forward to?
Sharing the experience with a new bunch of volunteers and meeting all the new host families and children!
My teaching experience
I shared my teaching experience with VESL with another volunteer and we taught our classes together. We spent our first lesson introducing ourselves and getting to know the children, making name cards for them to place on the desk in front of them. We also introduced a reward system that would be active throughout our visit to the school, each student having a sticker chart that they would get rewards on for good work and behaviour.
What was your most memorable moment as a VESL volunteer?
My most memorable moment as a volunteer teaching is the day we held talent shows with our four classes. Each class got into groups and prepared a song, story, comedy act or combination in English and performed it to us and the rest of the students. This was such a great day as well as being very rewarding to see the progress of both the confidence and speaking of the children.
What was your favourite food?
My favourite food made by my host family was ‘Hen Yegg Curry’ as the son in my host family called it. This was basically boiled egg in a gorgeous curry with tons of fresh vegetables!
Do you have any tips for travelling at weekends?
The main things I would say about travelling at weekends would be not to think that just because you’re with the host family you can dress as though you’re on holiday (mainly girls) – you won’t feel comfortable walking around in strappy tops and tiny shorts because everyone WILL stare at you.
Also, travelling around India can be a bit hectic because trains and buses aren’t always reliable and on time, so just try your best to plan ahead but don’t panic and get in flap if things don’t turn out as you planned. Things will always work out in the end! Finally, have lots of fun and speak to lots of new people! I absolutely loved travelling at weekends because I met so many great and really interesting people, and tried everything once!
What was your biggest challenge/how did you overcome it?
The biggest challenge I faced in my whole experience was the language barrier with the younger classes, but eventually this became much easier as I learned the body language of the children and they became more used to me and my body language. I realised that in this case, it was much easier to play games and sing songs that would teach them a small amount but still get them speaking English, rather than trying to teach them more difficult things that the older children were able to understand.