Home

 

Getting Experience

- # of # Filtered -

Independent In India

Q&A with Katie: Volunteered in India
Share this
Print this
Katie
Volunteered in India
St. Ambrose University
Her thoughts on Motivation
I wanted to go somewhere that would make me step out of my comfort zone. I needed to prove to myself that I could be independent.
Her thoughts on Cultural Differences
I was so impressed by how these children saw what was truly important. It showed me how much people living in poverty value everything they have – especially basic items that we simply take for granted.
Her thoughts on First Impressions
Many people stared at us even though we were covered head to toe in their traditional clothing, trying to show our respect, and attempting to blend in.
Her thoughts on Cultural Differences
It absolutely astounded me that a family with so little would give up the few resources that they had for strangers. This generosity was seen again and again with the people of Vrindavan.
Her thoughts on Personal Growth
My time abroad proved to me that I really can be independent, and I don't think many other experiences could have done that for me.

Where did you volunteer abroad? What was your position?

I volunteered at the Sandipani Muni School in Vrindavan, India from December to January. I worked in a school, teaching basic skills to children as they learned the English language.

What made you want to volunteer abroad?

I have always enjoyed doing volunteer work locally, but had never really thought about doing work abroad until I found some information on this specific trip. There was a picture attached to a mass e-mail that was sent regarding the trip, and it really caught my eye. It showed two little girls from the school that needed volunteers. The image made me fall in love with the idea of going somewhere completely unlike my home. What enticed me about the trip was that it was to a place I'd probably never get the opportunity to travel by myself. I wanted to go somewhere that would make me step out of my comfort zone. I needed to prove to myself that I could be independent, and my experience definitely challenged me to solve problems on my own.

What made your volunteer experience abroad a success?

Having two incredible trip leaders along with us certainly helped! They guided us through every obstacle we faced, while still giving us the freedom to overcome challenges independently. They were always extremely comforting and reassuring, and they really became like parents to me while I was abroad. They weren't in any way overbearing, and they really exposed members of the group to the local culture. They were always available if we needed someone to talk to, and they always wanted everyone's honest opinion about how they were feeling each step of the way. At the end of each day we'd go around a circle, recounting our highs and lows from the day. This was a great activity that helped me process everything I was experiencing.

Did anything happen in your volunteer workplace that gave you particular insight into your host culture?

While volunteering at the school, I saw how the children had a true desire to learn because they considered it a privilege. Back in the US, kids dread going to school and are constantly complaining about it "“ but these kids were so appreciative of the opportunity they were given to be educated. When the children were asked what they would wish for if they could have any three wishes granted, every child responded with "œeducation." At home you'd hear kids rattle off toys or games that they wanted. I was so impressed by how these children saw what was truly important. It showed me how much people living in poverty value everything they have "“ especially basic items that we simply take for granted.

How did you deal with the cultural divide during your volunteer experience?

Throughout the trip, this was a very challenging obstacle to overcome. Many people stared at us even though we were covered head to toe in their traditional clothing, trying to show our respect, and attempting to blend in. Unfortunately, people saw right past this and were amazed by our white skin. People would take photos of us or sometimes just point and laugh. This became very discouraging especially after we tried so hard to be respectful of their culture. Eventually, we just had to ignore it and focus on the people who appreciated us for the services we brought to them. There were so many people who saw us for who we were and not what we looked like, and it was really helpful to remember that when we were the center of attention on the streets.

What did you miss most about home?

I really missed my family and boyfriend while I was abroad. It was challenging to leave the ones that I am so close to, but it also allowed me to prove to myself that I could do it. I felt extremely accomplished after my trip, as I had overcome my fears of being without my friends and family. My time abroad proved to me that I really can be independent, and I don't think many other experiences could have done that for me.

Describe an experience from your time abroad that made a particularly strong impression on you.

An event that really stood out to me occurred on my first day in Vrindavan. A religious leader who had offered to show us some important landmarks led our group around the city. He took us out of the absolute chaos of the city into a peaceful farmland. It was amazing to find such tranquility just minutes from the city. As we were walking through the farms, the leader brought us to a friend's home. The home was anything like what I am used to seeing back in the US, with a roof made of straw and no doors or windows to cover the open frames. The family was dressed in dirty clothing and appeared to be very poor. The mother was making bread and when she finished, instead of handing it out to her tired husband or hungry children, she gave it to our group. It absolutely astounded me that a family with so little would give up the few resources that they had for strangers. This generosity was seen again and again with the people of Vrindavan. It amazed me how grateful they were for us being there, without even knowing what purpose we served.

What are your future plans for going abroad and for your career?

I am currently studying occupational therapy and I would love to incorporate some work abroad into my future career. I truly love working with other cultures, and it would be a great learning experience to be able to incorporate the occupational therapy skills that I have learned in an international context. My program offers two trips: one to Brazil and one to Ecuador, which both sound incredible, but I don't know how possible either of them would be financially especially after my trip to India.

Advice from MyWorldAbroad
Jean-Marc Hachey, Publisher

Katie certainly experienced many of the challenges and rewards of traveling in a developing area. Despite the relatively short length of Katie's trip abroad, it has given her insight into how to survive away from family, loved ones and the comforts of home. Now Katie is thinking about applying your occupational therapy skills in an international context. Anyone who plans to work in international health should be building as many front line experiences as possible before or directly after graduation. If you are seeking a position in the international health field, you'll likely need at least four months of on-the-ground experience in order to be considered for a position. Consider taking a semester off from school to learn Spanish in Central America and do volunteer work in your field. You can even subsidize your time abroad by teaching English to locals. Another great idea is to build international health experiences by directing your courses and/or research projects toward an international subject related to your field of professional interest. Here are a few resources to get you started. (Note: You must log in to MyWorldAbroad to access the links below.)

Katie's Next Steps
Advice from MyWorldAbroad
by the founder of MyWorldAbroad
Jean-Marc Hachey
Want to Have the Same Experience?
10 Core Global Competencies
Take control of your career with this ESSENTIAL model!
Virtual Internships in 2021!
Remote work is the way of the future! Start planning YOUR virtual international internship now.
The Global You
What skills, knowledge and experiences can change your life? Find out with this NEW model!
Quizzes & Scorecard
Take these simple quizzes to assess your international skills, experiences & job search readiness!
The Culture Tree
EXPLORE the three levels of culture!
9773
- # of # Filtered -
  • 93
93
11996
Daring to Go Solo in Ireland
1
12058
Architectural Adventures in Australia
2
11645
A Love Affair with Shanghai
3
9766
Short-Term Trips For Long-Term Gain
4
15333
A Literary Education in the UK
5
11845
Hospitality and Hosting in the DCR
6
10923
Insight And Education In Korea
7
14483
Finding Home, By Teaching Abroad
8
14088
An Eye-opening Experience Teaching in South Korea
9
14594
Growing Abroad: Hong Kong & South Korea
10
9767
Beyond The Call Of Duty In Africa
11
15347
12 Months, 12 Countries!
12
15383
Hustle and Bustle in Vietnam
13
15401
From Korea to Oman: Teaching English Around the World!
14
15405
From Daydream to Reality: Teaching Abroad
15
15327
An Open Mind & Open Arms in Spain
16
10204
Across Europe In A Caravan!
17
15631
An International Career in the Making: Asia, Africa and Beyond
18
15387
Bliss on a Budget in Brazil
19
15644
Discovering the World on Campus: International Skills at Home
20
16017
A Globally-minded Visit to Qatar
21
11467
Stepping Outside the Box in Sweden!
22
9737
Passionate About Panama
23
9752
Giving In Guatemala
24
9782
Making The Most Of Milano
25
9758
Learning The Local Ways Of Addis Ababa
26
9769
Getting Sporty In Switzerland!
27
9788
Business And Pleasure In Australia
28
9753
A Season in Sweden
29
9765
Simpatico in Florence
30
9764
Do It Yourself! A Proactive Intern in Rome
31
9787
A Spring Semester in London
32
9807
Fast Friendship in Korea
33
9784
Skill-building in Bonn
34
9741
Adapting to Work In Peru
35
11557
Un stage au Cambodge (Français)
36
9781
A Hospital Helper In Costa Rica
37
9785
Motivated In Madagascar
38
9770
Contributing To Change In Ghana
39
9779
One Summer, Two Internships!
40
9760
Getting In Sync In Nairobi
41
9759
From Cold Feet To Confidence In Germany
42
9746
A Cross-Cultural Co-Op In West Africa
43
9773
Independent In India
44
9776
Soaking Up Japanese Culture
45
9742
Take-Charge Travel: Germany And Beyond!
46
11468
Learning While Teaching in Beijing
47
10230
Getting Caffeinated In Bolivia
48
9771
Learning To Love London
49
10145
Real Stories And Real People In Mexico
50
9762
American Freshman In London
51
9803
Ten Years Teaching In Seoul
52
9791
Making Contacts Count In The UK
53
10851
Tips From Tasmania
54
9799
Getting Settled In Seoul
55
10258
Encountering Cultures Across Europe
56
9772
Learning To Go With The Flow In France
57
10218
Adaptation And Appreciation In Japan
58
9786
Kids And Culture In Korea
59
9748
Adventure In The Alps
60
9744
Food, Fun And Festivals In Germany
61
9747
Fun And Friends In The Netherlands
62
9750
Host Hospitality In Morocco
63
9754
Building Memories In India
64
9775
A Year Of Feeling French
65
9777
Into The Wild In Alaska
66
9812
Caring And Career Skills In Belize
67
10157
Changing Course In China
68
9740
Sports, Study And Fun In France
69
9778
Study And Adventure In New Zealand
70
9755
People, Places And Passionate Volunteering In Peru
71
9738
Living For The Moment In Valencia
72
11850
The Warmest Welcome in Guatemala
73
9783
Off The Beaten Path In Africa
74
9757
Teaching And Learning In Tanzania
75
9789
Loving Life In Lyon
76
9774
Gaga For Ghana!
77
9745
An Unforgettable Adventure In Nanjing
78
9792
Rolling With The Punches In Seoul
79
10188
Now Or Never In Colombia
80
11904
Enthusiasm, Education and Experience in Greece
81
9790
Design And Dining In Korea
82
10163
English Teaching In Eastern Europe
83
9768
Going Solo In Spain!
84
9743
Hooked On Volunteering!
85
10153
China, South Africa And Beyond!
86
9751
A Canadian Globe-Trotter Visits The US
87
10192
Out And About In Paris
88
9780
A Year In Marvelous Mexico!
89
10143
A Warm Welcome In Mexico
90
9763
A Professional Visit To Vietnam
91
9756
Springtime In Spain
92
9761
Communicating Creatively In Spain
93
9773
All Job Boards
462
All NGOs
1427
Au Pair Resources
39
Awards And Grants Resources
54
Business Directories
18
Canadian Federal, Provincial And Territorial Government Profiles
60
Canadian Government Resources
28
Children And Families Abroad
16
Consulting, Economic And Finance Job Boards
63
Country Guides
70
Cross-cultural Skills
80
Engineering Job Boards
59
Engineering Resources
81
Expatriate Networking Sites
32
Foreign Students Working in the US
9
Freelancing Abroad
27
General Job Search Books
15
Global Education And Social Action
45
Health And Medicine Job Boards
49
Health Career Resources
67
International Associations With Clubs on Campus
43
International Development Career Resources
75
International Internship Organizations
304
International Internships And Student Programs With Canadian Governments
31
International Internships With The US Government
37
International Job Hunting Resources
14
International Law Careers Resources
113
International Law Job Boards
26
International Student Exchanges [under construction until 2020/08/30]
2
International Studies In The US And Canada
11
International Trade Resources
25
International Volunteer Organizations
489
Internship Directories And Advice
37
Internships With The UN And Other IGOs
157
Language Careers
30
Learn A Language
106
Licensed Teacher Abroad Job Boards
29
Licensed Teacher Abroad Resources
31
Loans for Studying Abroad
18
Low-cost Travel
63
NGO Directories
33
NGO Job Boards
47
Re-entry
12
Regional Job Boards
102
Relocating Abroad
27
Resources For International Students Studying In Canada
17
Resources For International Students Studying In The US
46
Stories From Abroad
93
Study Abroad Resources
187
Teach English Abroad Job Boards
98
Teach English Abroad Resources
64
Tools for Travelers
73
Top International Blogs & Podcasts
84
Travel Health And Safety
39
UN and Other IGOs
269
UN And Other IGOs Job Boards
26
UN And Other IGOs Resources
73
US Government Profiles
76
US Government Resources
36
Virtual International Internship Organizations
77
Visas and Passports
26
Volunteer Directories And Advice
50
Women Living And Working Overseas
18
Working Holiday Resources
73