Discover India. Discover Yourself
The Personal Development Modules
Your students teach classes in a rural school over several days and also interact with the school children outside the classroom.
Through this unique experience, they get to build multiple skills and values. They learn how to cope with an unfamiliar environment and to harness their talents and strengths to be effective. They learn how to plan for their classes, adapt their communication to be effective with children who are not fluent in English, they learn to be creative in the way they present their classes, they learn to problem solve as they come up against difficult situations, and, perhaps most importantly, they revel in the joy of making a difference!
Students come away from the whole teaching experience with much better awareness of, and confidence in, themselves, a sense of gratitude for what they often take for granted back home, and a heightened resolve to make a difference through whatever they choose to do in their lives. An additional insight is that they realise how much alike they are to the Indian children, and this creates the foundation understanding to excel in an increasingly diverse work environment.
Almost without exception, every student who has been through this experience has called it life-changing and transformational.
Visiting a typical Indian start-up or business, students get an insight into one of the fastest growing economies in the world, and the dynamics of the changes and innovations that are an integral part of the work world.
Students see the challenges and issues that companies in India face and how their special brand of jugaad* innovation is applied and harnessed to drive growth.
Students get to understand some of the trends in the Indian economy and market, how businesses are riding those trends, how businesses cope with the constraints of bureaucracy, skill shortages, and funding. Students get a flavour of the entrepreneurial mindset that helps businesses in India, not just handling risks but harnessing them. In many ways, this gives students insights into how better they should prepare themselves for the world of work, and an awareness of the changes, challenges, and choices that will be part of their journey as they enter that world.
* A Hindi word meaning ways to find low-cost, intelligent solutions to problems.
The volunteering assignment matches a local community’s need with the willingness of the students to test themselves whilst making a lasting contribution.
These assignments range from working with a women’s self-help group on financial literacy to training villagers on computer skills, from enabling an eCommerce marketplace that helps villagers take their produce at better prices directly to the consumer to helping set up a chicken coop or to put a library in place.
All the projects provide an environment which stretches the students, both in terms of their skills, but also emotionally, e.g. addressing the taboo subject of menstruation through teaching girls in an orphanage how to make their own sanitary products.
Students learn to build several leadership skills through the volunteering. Prior to the trip, they enhance their planning and collaboration skills as they work together to understand the needs of the project and how best they can address that need. They acquire the materials and tools required and train themselves on specific skills to execute the project. They research best practices to bring with them.
The actual execution of the project is an extremely fun and high-impact experience. Often changes in the environment will have taken place and the students must adapt quickly and innovate. They must learn to listen and to get their ideas across, to question any assumptions they may have made, suspend judgment, and be open to what is required. They learn to make decisions under tight timelines, work constructively with both the local folk and each other in order to execute their plans.
Students come away from this experience with both a tremendous sense of personal achievement in their accomplishments, as well as a deep sense of fulfillment in the difference they have been able to make.