Lisa Drese is an 18 year student from Germany who likes traveling and watching Indian movies. Lisa volunteered for three months in the Women Empowerment Volunteer Project in Delhi, India. In her interview she tells us why she decided to volunteer abroad , her experience of volunteering in India and what advise she would give to other people looking to volunteer abroad.
Why did you decide to Volunteer Abroad?
I finished high school this year (June 2012) and I didn’t want to start studying at university immediately, so I decided to take a gap year. But I didn’t like the idea of spending the year in my home country because I wanted to see the world and be away from home for some time to become more self-confident, independent and also to broaden my horizon and since I have always been fascinated by India (I had been to India several times before) I decided to do some social work in that country instead of just traveling through it as a tourist. My desire was to get to know the Indian culture, to live and work with the Indians and even help those who don’t have the same opportunities like me in their lives.
Describe your overall experience as a Volunteer in India.
I really loved volunteering in India because it is just such an amazing country.It is so beautiful and diverse, adventurous and challenging, sometimes even shocking and just completely different from my home.Still I soon felt like home and in a short time I learnt so much about India, its culture and people.
In my project (Women Empowerment) everyone was so friendly and they didn’t treat me like a foreigner but more like a friend. I spent a very funny and interesting time with the young girls in my placement and not only I taught them English and told them about my culture and home country but I also learnt some Hindi from them and they made it possible for me to gain a real insight into their everyday life. So, for me this was an amazing and unforgettable experience which also made me realize how good my own life actually is.
All is all, I am very happy that I came to India to volunteer in Delhi. This while experience has certainly taught me a lot and I will always remember the time spent in India.
What advice would you give to other people looking to volunteer abroad ? Why do you think other people should volunteer abroad ?
What I learnt here is that you for sure do not need to be an English teacher or need to have much experience to contribute and help in the different projects. If you decide to volunteer abroad or even in India, then you should simply be open minded and curious. You should be interested in discovering a foreign country with a foreign culture and in meeting people who have a different mindset.
It is easier to do social work in a country like India when you start without any prejudices and also don’t judge the people because of their different lifestyle.If you are open towards new experiences you may understand that a diverse culture such as the Indian one is much better.
So, on the whole I would recommend everyone, no matter of what age or profession is to go abroad for volunteering because it will be an experience that will stay with you for a long time and will also enable you to see some things in a different light. Even if you are able to go abroad for a week and you maybe only manage to teach a small child to count to ten in English, you will still make a change. So, in my opinion it is always worth the effort.You just get so much back from the people you live and work with.