India

Cross-Cultural Solutions

I accompanied my teenage daughter for three weeks of volunteering in Dharamsala. Overall, I would say we had a very good experience. I loved India, and the children and teachers at the childcare where we worked were wonderful. We were the first volunteers at this site, which was somewhat undeveloped, which proved challenging. We were able to identify some of the issues that needed to be addressed beyond the time we were there, and hopefully moved everyone toward developing a curriculum.
We were well looked after by the staff: picked up at the airport, fed, and generally made to feel secure. This was very good, because I had never volunteered or been to India, and it was pretty overwhelming for me. It was very overwhelming for my daughter, but she also liked the experience on the whole.
We lived in a flat with several other volunteers. While I liked them personally, I found it difficult to live in a dorm-style setting after having my own home for many years. The food was simple and healthy, although far too spicy for my palate. It took a couple of weeks before the cook was able to tone it down to the point that I could eat the vegetable and pulse dishes. I would be interested to volunteer again, but I would like to do it in a way that allows me more personal space and freedom.

Program: Volunteer Abroad
Location: India
Posted: Jul 17, 2014
Overall:
8
Support:
9
Value:
8

Sankalp Volunteer Society India

I had a wonderful time volunteering for four weeks with Sankalp. I stayed in Jaipur in the volunteer house run by Amita and Pranay. They were gracious and welcoming hosts, always open to our ideas, and always interested in a dialogue on what we were up to in our classrooms and how we could improve the students' experiences. The volunteer house was comfortable, clean, and the food was AMAZING.

I highly recommend the program. It is up to you, though, to make it as amazing as you want it to be. The only complaints I heard were from volunteers who didn't want to put in the extra time to make lesson plans. They wanted Sankalp to provide them with what they were to cover and when. Instead of waiting for other people to tell you what to do, I recommend coming up with your own ideas. The internet is full of resources, including lesson plans, exercises, quizzes, flash cards, games, etc. that you can use to teach ESL to beginning learners. Use these resources! They're a great help. I had never taught young children before and these online resources helped me a great deal. Also if you're willing to come up with cool ideas to improve the school, Sankalp is really excited to hear them. This is where I really, really appreciated Pranay and Amita. My sister and I volunteered together and we asked if we could spend our free time painting the school. Amita and Pranay were not only really supportive of our idea, but went out and got us all the supplies to complete our project. They even went out of their way to drive us to the school on their own time so we could paint when the school wasn't even supposed to be open.

I love this program and I highly recommend it. As two single girls traveling abroad, it was nice to have Sankalp on the other end of our journey to India. We were picked up at the airport in Delhi and driven by a private driver to Jaipur. It was all organized for us in advance of our arrival, so it was all really easy, which was nice after our flight from Minnesota. Amita and Pranay also help you organize weekend travel plans if you want (and you're free to make your own travel plans if you want to be completely independent too!). They give great advice on how to stay safe when you're out playing tourist and provide a wonderful house to come home to at night.

Program:
Location: India
Posted: Jul 16, 2014
Overall:
10
Support:
10
Value:
10

Comments

Hi there, I am very interested in learning more about this organization through the eyes of another volunteer and was wondering if you had time to answer a few questions. -What did a typical day look like for you? Was there a lot of down time where you felt you did not really have a chance to be active within the organization or was there a lot of opportunities to stay active and involved? I read another volunteer said you can take on two volunteer roles(one in the morning and in the afternoon if you so choose, is that correct?) -Was there a lot of direction and instruction for volunteers on their contributing roles? Or was it quite flexible and left up to the volunteers to navigate? Was there any training or orientation for volunteers? -Did you have prior teaching expeience? Was there a lot of direction and instruction for volunteers on a specific teaching curriculum to follow? How did you go about making lesson plans? -What was the surrounding city environment like? Was it safe? Was it friendly and welcoming? Are there any specific places you would suggest I visit in the surrounding area? -What were the main sources of food you were served?.. I have an allergy to wheat and dairy so the diet is my biggest concern. -Are there any particular pros and/or cons you think would be helpful to share about your experience with this organization?..I read that under Sankalp's policy you are not able to interact with the locals in the area, is this true? Thank you SO much in advance, your insight is greatly appreciated and will really help in allowing me to decide if this is the right organization for me:) My email is gemini_88@msn.com!

Active Internationals

We were a groups of 6 people (5 girls & a guy) from Columbia, U.S. It was an incredibly amazing month of my life with Active Internationals. Spent about 30 days in India. While volunteering for a deprived community centre in Jaipur, I honestly never got myself so satisfied ever before in life. Teaching little kids and helping the ladies in constructing their houses was the best thing I could ask for.

During our stay, we travelled to Agra, Udaipur & Goa. Special thanks to Kuldeep for being the best guide through-out our program. He was humble, Very good in English, "A YOGA MASTER" & a dear friend.

Not even once did we think that the organization has compromised with our safety. We travelled in clean & good vehicles, stayed at decent accommodation & I fell in love with India Food (Thanks to Ram - our cook).

For anyone willing to visit India, It is my personal recommendation to participate in Active Internationals programs.

Program: Gap Year
Location: India
Posted: Jul 15, 2014
Overall:
10
Support:
10
Value:
9

Active Internationals

Two years back I volunteered in India with some other organization, and felt that my efforts were not used to the full.

A friend of mine introduced me to Active Internationals and I came to them this year. The most professional Indian organization I have seen.
All things were well planned and had a long term goal.

My stay was fun filled and made a lot of friends from all over the world. The projects looked great and the local support was overwhelming.

I will come back and bring my friends along too.

I love India just because of you guys.....

Program: Gap Year
Location: India
Posted: Jul 5, 2014
Overall:
10
Support:
10
Value:
10

Active Internationals

Hi,
I would thank Active Internationals for thinking different from others. They stressed more on the sustainability of the project than just bringing Volunteers in from different countries.

Great work by these people. They kept all of us engaged, active and comfortable. The best part of the service was - being cared yet not being pampered like little kids.

The fun activities were absolute fun, and I picked a lot of Hindi.
Food was just out of the world.

Thank you Active Internationals -- there is bright future for you.

Program: Volunteer Abroad
Location: India
Posted: Jun 30, 2014
Overall:
10
Support:
10
Value:
10

Sankalp Volunteer Society India

When I decided to take a gap year I looked for a legitimate and trustworthy organization amidst a rally of overpriced volunteer businesses. I happily settled upon Sankalp because their programmes looked great and the price was reasonable.

I had no expectations when I began and was pleasently surprised with what I was met with. From the get go I had the support I needed. I asked for a pickup from Delhi ariport and I was met right on time; no misunderstandings or mistakes. I was then given an introduction to the organization and the work after arrivel. The conditions of the volunteer house was much better then I expected, however the rooms could need some more cleaning from time to time. However, the cleanliness of the room will also depend on yourself and your roomates. You are given lunch and dinner everyday, and the food is amazing. If you have any issues you can tell the cook and she will adjust.

I worked at the street children programme and it was great! There are not too many children making it easier to teach the children properly and devote more time for each one. Some children have a carriculum they follow, whilst others don't. In which case you just ask the teacher working there if she can help you out. The children are amazing you will fall in love. They have so much to give and teach you. You have weekends off, so plenty of time for travelling around Rajasthan and India.

The programme directors were very supportive and available most of the time if needed. However, there are some pesky rules placed by the organization that are there for your safety, but they are also a little exaggerated. Some of them such as curfew and limited communications with the local community were some that saddens me the most. For a short term volunteers this would not be of much issue, but for me who was there for 4 months it was not very pleasant and I soon grew restless. The other rules are mostly reasonsable. Anyhow, the staff are nice and very approachable.

I highly recommend this programme! I learnt so much about myself and how I am as a person. We got to see so much of India and the beautiful city of Jaipur. My gap year would not have been as amazing had it not been for Sankalp.

Program: Volunteer Abroad
Location: India
Posted: Jun 28, 2014
Overall:
8
Support:
6
Value:
8

Sankalp Volunteer Society India

Overall, I wouldn't recommend this program because I am not completely sure I believe in "Global Aid". It does a lot in the way of reinforcing paternalism with the third world v.s first world relationship emphasized. Who's to say our Western values-- education namely-- are transatlantic views to be upheld? Moreover, who's to to know if these impressed upon the "aided" people group isn't more isolating for them in their community at the end of it?
As with Sankalp, highlights included the cook and her 1) delicious meals 2) her girlish, sincere energy, as well as the group of girls we worked with in the Women's Empowerment program, as well as the woman who translated for us in that program.
As far as improvements, both the Street Kids and Women's Empowerment could use more structure in what material to teach. As volunteers, we are thrust into an environment where we don't know what level of education any of these children have, so lesson planning is crucial and often misguided and fallible. Also, when old volunteers leave and new ones come in, the children are left to deal with this gap i.e being re-taught, or taught at a level too high/too low for them, or just having to re-acclimate to a new teaching environment. Because of the inevitable flux and the lack of consistent lesson plans, the children suffer.
But, who really is to know how these things turn out because we come for 4-6 weeks spans, exploit the city and its people, and leave forever with no follow up of progress. It's a safe space to feel good about yourself and the mark you've left in the world as a global citizen, but without knowing the actual impact you have on these people in this community and if it was any good at all.

Program: Volunteer Abroad
Location: India
Posted: Jun 20, 2014
Overall:
4
Support:
3
Value:
5

Sankalp Volunteer Society India

I had a pleasant experience with Sankalp overall. I was in Jaipur and I thought the volunteer house was very nice- especially compared to Indian standards. There is a fridge with a freezer, running water, electricity, wifi, and aircon at night. The meals (lunch and dinner were made for us) were always tasty vegetarian curry. I was here for 4 weeks and I would say that I had a great experience mostly due to the other volunteers that I bonded with the house. I'm not sure I could recommend the volunteer program 100%, though I do find it a worthy cause(I was doing the women empowerment program). I felt at times that it was not very well organized because for any of the programs there were no teaching curriculums so as teachers we were in a tough place in the beginning trying to figure out a) where they were at in their education and b) what would be most helpful to teach them. The teacher that was present to help us and translate did do her best at giving us suggestions, though I think that in order for the program to be truly successful, they should come up with a curriculum at some point. Aside from that, the program ran fairly smoothly. We had plenty of free time each day and on the weekends to travel and explore the city of Jaipur. This was truly an eye-opening experience and while it was exhausting at times, I'm extremely thankful for the experience I've had.

Program: Volunteer Abroad
Location: India
Posted: Jun 20, 2014
Overall:
7
Support:
7
Value:
8

Sankalp Volunteer Society India

Overall, my personal experience withe Sankalp organization was fine. However, there were many problems other volunteers experienced when they first got here. I'm going to stick with my own personal experience though.

I worked in the Street Children program and Women's Empowerment for a total of six weeks. Both groups had wonderful children to work with, and I enjoyed my time working with both different programs. The first few days of volunteering with each program was a bit stressful and overwhelming. There was no provided curriculum, and I had no clue what the children did and did not know. It was really frustrating to just get thrown into the program with absolutely no direction. However, that did leave room for me to pick and choose whatever I wanted to teach the children. If I needed supplies for the school, the Sankalp organizers were very quick to get them to me. Even after long, sweaty days, the volunteering was very rewarding.

Many volunteers do not like all the house rules. The biggest complaint is the 9:00 pm curfew. This time made it hard for me to go out after I got off work at 6:30 from Women's Empowerment with the other volunteers. I didn't mind it too much, though. I know it is for safety reasons. This rule is not flexible which sometimes made weekend travel frustrating and rushed.

I met some great people in the house, and they were the ones who actually got me through the rough days. This was such a great learning experience!

Program: Volunteer Abroad
Location: India
Posted: Jun 20, 2014
Overall:
7
Support:
4
Value:
4

Sankalp Volunteer Society India

It was a great program with great program coordinators. Would definitely like to volunteer with them again.

Program: Volunteer Abroad
Location: India
Posted: Jun 18, 2014
Overall:
10
Support:
10
Value:
10

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