Subject: Volunteer summary
From: "Andrew Foster"
Date: Mon, November 30, 2009 4:58 am
I know we haven't quite left yet, but we just want to say thank you so much for your wonderful hospitality and that of your staff at the guesthouse. We have had an excellent time and our experiences at the school volunteering have been truly memorable. Hopefully the info below and attached in word format will be of use. Also, lots of pictures copied to the computer in the office
Thanks Andrew and Charlotte
Charlotte Foster :
Volunteering at the school was an excellent experience. I have never taught before and, although it was a little daunting at first teaching a class of nine to 13 year olds, I quickly got the hang of it. I taught for just under three weeks in total and was made to feel very welcome in the school throughout. I was introduced to the children on the first day and was welcomed with garlands and sweets. The next day it was time to teach, but I was given plenty of help and guidance on teaching subjects by Pratik, who also sat in on the class with me, providing translation where necessary.
The children are all very enthusiastic and keen to learn. They were also very well behaved, especially when there was another teacher in the room! As we got to know each better and their personalities shone through, some of them got a little cheekier, and, despite the language barrier, we were able to share some laughs and jokes. I think they enjoyed the lessons. I taught a lot of vocabulary to them, from body parts to clothes, to weather and transport. Some of them picked it up very quickly, while others needed more prompting, I think some of the older children had been taught these topics before. The children were also keen to teach me some Hindi, so I had my homework to do at the end of the day as well so that I could remember the words and phrases they tested me on the next day!
Towards the end of my teaching time I was left more to my own devices with the class and had more time on my own with them. This was fine as we knew each other well by this point and, while they were sometimes quite noisy, they would generally do as they were told – the older children enforcing discipline in Hindi for me when needed!
The stay at Mandore guest house during the volunteering was excellent. I only taught in the morning, as the children had their regular lessons in the afternoon. The guest house was a perfect place to relax in the afternoon. It was a short distance from Jodhpur, but this was easily accessible by bus if I wanted to travel into the town in the afternoon or weekends. Having seen the hustle and bustle of Jodhpur, I was very pleased to be staying somewhere as peaceful as a Mandore! The staff at the guesthouse were very helpful and provided three delicious meals a day – far too much food really, but I could never resist one more chapati!
I have no criticisms of the volunteering project at all. The only thing that might be useful for volunteers is to know how much, if any, of the fee paid to the guest house is donated to the projects that they work on, how much is for accommodation, transport etc. The administration of the volunteering is more relaxed than I am used to in the UK, but this is in in no way a criticism. It was very refreshing to be able to adopt the same approach and it meant that I did not feel pressured. I felt that my presence at the project was appreciated and I was very comfortable just doing my best, given that I had not taught before. I hope the children gained as much as I did from the experience. The village certainly seemed very grateful and the village leaders told us that the children had enjoyed the lessons and came back to the village to tell their parents and grandparents all about the new teacher. Volunteering is a great way to get to know more of the 'real India', which you do not see when travelling around visiting only the tourist sites and staying in a city for a few days before moving on. I met a lot of interesting people and saw how life is lived in the more remote parts of the country. All in all, I would certainly recommend volunteering here and of course staying at Mandore Guesthouse.