Volunteering in India – The Indian Files

Posted by: Arlene

My journey began on Friday, August 5th 2016. The volunteer coordinators were all so hospitable. They gave us a tour of the M. Block Market to ensure we retrieved the essential items we requested for a comfortable stay in New Delhi, India such as, a cell phone data and service plan, snacks, culturally appropriate wear, etc. We spent time touring many different places in New Delhi, India such as the Lotus Temple, India Gate, Humayun’s Tomb and Qutab Minar.

After becoming acquainted with the area, we began our volunteer experience. I volunteered with ‘street children’ at a local school during the Volunteer Travel Adventure project. The volunteers and I were welcomed with lays, blessed with bracelets, and milk tea. I spent my time teaching English, mathematics, playing, singing, dancing, and learning from the children themselves, as they taught me even more than I could ever teach them. After volunteering, we would head off to some more tourist activities such as, visiting the Akshardham Temple and watching their magnificent water show.

After spending time with the children for a week and having the honor of celebrating India’s Independence Day with them, the volunteer travel group and I headed to Palampur, India. During our stay in Palampur, India, all the volunteers worked to paint educational items along school walls.

Once our paintings were completed, we headed off to trek the Himalaya Mountains, in particular, the Triund peak, which has an elevation of 9,325 feet. After our trek down, we headed to the Taj Mahal and then Agra Fort. We ended our last day by visiting the City Palace, an Elephant Village, and a Monkey Temple.

My journey may have ended on Saturday, August 27th 2016, but the lives I encountered touched me for a lifetime. I saw, I witnessed, and I experienced so much while on this trip, but my most precious memories are with the children for their hearts are so pure, full of joy, love, laughter, compassion, and generosity.

I took a 7,386 mile journey from Ann Arbor, Michigan to New Delhi, India to learn, grow and experience a world unfamiliar to me, only to be impacted so immensely by the children I encouraged. They have so little, but gave so much, and for this I am forever grateful and blessed for this experience.