Volunteering in India!

One of my jobs at university is being a Peer Adviser at the International Engagement Office. In this job I promote opportunities aboard for current Surrey students. While performing this role, I came across several initiatives that were incredibly interested. I learnt that not only Surrey students’ can study and work abroad during their placement year, but also during the summer. 

As a Peer Adviser I advertised Summer Schools and volunteer experiences. I realized that at any point in your degree, you can take part of one of the summer opportunities. Summer schools consist of partnerships with a foreign university, and you study about a particular area. For instance, there are summer schools in Germany, Netherlands, Brazil, China, and many other places. In these places you can specialize yourself and live in a foreign country for a week or two. At one point I was considering doing a scummer school in the Netherlands on the United Nations. 

Another type of summer opportunities are volunteer experiences. In my Peer Adviser job I came across a volunteer in a school in India called La Montessori Summer Program. I began reading about this opportunity and chose to take part in it! Who would’ve guessed that after graduation I would be spending a month in a school in India? 

The volunteer is a month long and in the Himalayas. I am going to a local school in the city of Kullu. The idea is to go to the school and offer the students subjects outside of their traditional curriculum. For instance, in the past, Surrey volunteers have taught dance and football. A huge incentive was the fact that this experience is covered by Surrey’s Turing Scheme. This scheme is a grant that covers your expenses abroad. Hence, I will have a month’s allowance to spend on food and activities in India. The accommodation is covered for free by the school. One might think that such an experience abroad costs a lot, however thanks to Surrey’s support I will only have to pay my flight ticket there and back. 

In my application I explained that as a student ambassador I had worked with different schools and organized workshops on university life. Through this experience, I had learnt how to adapt my approach to each student’s needs and to create activities that will grab their attention. In the application form I offered to lead debating and crafts workshops and I got accepted!

In the debating workshop I will focus on developing student’s public speaking, negotiation, critical thinking, and confidence skills. I have experience leading this kind of workshop from my role as the Vice-President of the Surrey Model United Nations Society and as a Student Ambassador. The debates will start with simple topics, and as the weeks pass and students gain confidence, the workshop would move on to more informed debates such as animal testing, the ownership of guns, or current events. 

Furthermore, in my art workshop I will motivate students to express themselves in a way that transcends language. Through art, students will be able to connect with themselves and their peers. Furthermore, as a Student Ambassador, I have participated in Crafts’ workshops where we have introduced school students to origami. In this activity, I will create fun activities such as designing bookmarks, creating a poster for a book or movie, participating in a photography competition, and forming a collage from magazines/newspapers.

I believe my proposed workshops will add value to the student’s education and will give them a space to outdo themselves and develop skills such as public speaking, team building, forward-thinking, and creativeness. Additionally, this experience will be a huge eye opener for me as I have never lived in a country so different to my own. I am really looking forward to this challenge and all the things I can learn from Indian culture and their way of life. I am extremely grateful for this opportunity Surrey offered me and I can’t wait to embark myself in this journey.