It can be tough – but incredibly rewarding! Read a recent Intern’s summary of his 4 week internship.
Dom, Hertfordshire, UK. Internship in rural schools near Chennai and Hyderabad
“I began the experience as someone who was looking to spend their Easter break wanting to help people and, in the long term, myself, improve their education/credentials. I certainly feel I have at least played a part in enthusing the students during my time at each school, and I feel I have helped identify areas that future participants can help with, and so therefore really kick-start the good that needs doing. I could never really grasp the endless cycle of the poor in India until I got out here and experienced first hand how hard it must be to break that cycle of a poor education leading to a poor standard of life. I could list an endless stream of clichés about how lucky we are in the West and how we must appreciate what we have more; these points are all valid and true.
For me though, the most striking and educational thing for me, is that I realised how resourceful I can be, and how in life, and not just in places where there is so little, I can make a big positive impact on those around me. The skill of making a lot out of seemingly nothing is something that I hope has rubbed off on me as I have lived alongside the locals here; a small gesture, idea or effort can go an incredibly long way if it is applied correctly and/or with empathy. I believe it is a lesson that not only I can and will benefit from, but Western society as a whole, on a social and business/economic level.
It gets to the stage where you stop seeing the squalor - it doesn’t ever go away here, and it certainly never becomes “acceptable”, but you are eventually able to see beyond it. Only really once you do that can you appreciate the people themselves and how kind and honest their culture is. Some people I’ve met have nothing past a “house” made out of mud, sticks and discarded plastic litter, but they don’t want anything past a handshake or smile and a hello from me; someone who comparatively has everything. I can’t speak a word of their language, most days I can barely handle the weather, and I gave up long ago at even trying to remember the constant bombardment of new names of those around me, and yet I’m still lauded and praised as if I’ve somehow done something other than just observe and teach a class for a few hours that day.
You’d think it’d do wonders for someone’s ego, but in fact is constantly surprised and humbled me to an extent where I view myself and my ability to contribute completely differently. I don’t think an Indian person, or really anyone seen as foreign as I am here, could come to the UK and be welcomed and appreciated as much as I have, and whilst I can’t change society, I can, and have, in the space of just a few weeks, definitely changed my own perceptions on others and their innate potential.”