Student Leader Blog: Check List

One of our Student Leaders, Lucy Allcock, from Edge Hill University is spending just over six weeks in India supporting her team of volunteers, she has put together an excellent check list for future volunteers going to India, check it out below!

So the volunteers are just beginning their 3rd week of teaching and are now well and truly settled in, teaching with ease and confidence!

After observing how the first 2 weeks have gone, I thought it would be helpful for future volunteers if I put together a first week checklist of things I think are essential to help you settle into the culture and teaching of Kerela, India and how to get the most out of your project…

  1. String – Literally one of the most helpful tools to bring in your suitcase, it can be extremely useful when hanging up your mosquito net, creating a web from all four corners of your room which also doubles up to be a pretty efficient washing line! Especially in the monsoon season it’s not always possible to hang your clothes outside!

  2. Bum Bag – We have had a few incidents on buses, with volunteers falling left right and centre onto people, shopping and big washing bowls when trying to get their money out of their rucksacks to pay the conductor! A bum bag, can help you maintain incredible balance on the turbulent roads of India and avoid serious embarrassment, as a few volunteers and myself have experienced!

  3. Mosquito Repellent – It may seem at times that nothing can get rid of the little pests especially when you look in the mirror to discover red, ugly looking bites on your face! But mosquito repellent when used right is extremely effective, especially if containing DEET. Make sure you bring plenty of the stuff and apply generously morning, noon and night or fear to have many sleepless nights, itching!

  4. Who knew stickers were for your face?!

    Who knew stickers were for your face?!

    Stickers – A fantastic incentive some of the volunteers have found to get the students on their side, helping gain control and giving the students something to work for/look forward to at the end of the lesson!

  5. Camera – It’s actually amazing how many things you’ll find to take pictures of, from your students, your host family to the gorgeous sun set or an old man asleep on a park bench! Taking pictures is extremely worthwhile for your own benefit as well as people at home who have helped support and help you raise money. You can show them exactly what you have been up to and the memories you have made!

  6. A waterproof jacket – India’s weather can be extremely unpredictable you can go from having 5 days of glorious sunshine to be relaxing on the beach at the weekend and be caught in the biggest pour down you have ever seen that then doesn’t stop for another 5 days! Always carry your water proof with you as you never know when it’s going to rain, also if your rucksack doesn’t already have one, I’d recommend a waterproof cover to prevent your note books full of lesson plans and your valuables getting wet!

  7. Antibacterial Gel – You’re probably already aware about the hygiene and culture changes in India, such as eating with the right hand and cleaning with the left! Therefore it is extremely important to make sure you wash your hands before and after you eat! Also carrying a bottle of antibacterial gel is useful when there are no sinks around or if you’ve been on a bus, auto etc.

  8. Pictures of home – Photographs of friends and family at home can be just what you need after a hard day of teaching and you’re missing home, especially in the first couple of weeks when things can be a little overwhelming and you’re going through one of the biggest adjustments ever! They can also be a great way to bond with your host family, showing them your own family and explaining what they do, you’ll find they have some very interesting questions that will have you talking and laughing for hours!

  9. Flexibility – No matter how many times you get told in meetings and through VESL packs to be flexible when you’re in India you never really get it until your ACTUALLY here! You never know when plans are going to change, whether it be with host accommodation, lesson times or finding out the morning of school that it’s a strike day so you’ve got the day off! Be flexible, smile and have faith that in India, that Plan A may change but there is always Plans B, C, D,E and it will always work out in the end!

  10. Never stop smiling

    Never stop smiling

    Smile – My final and most important advice on the check list is to smile and don’t stop! You’re going to have ups and downs, trials and tribulations but above all you are going to have one hell of an amazing experience, putting yourself through many challenges, creating overwhelming and extraordinary memories that will stay with you for a lifetime! So just smile your way through and you’ll receive plenty of smiles back! (It’s the best way to communicate if people don’t understand you too! At least they know you’re happy!)

I hope this little checklist will help future volunteers get through their first couple of weeks and the adjustment period a little easier! Good luck, enjoy and I’m looking forward to hearing all about it!

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