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Volunteering in India – Going to Goa

The first week is introduction week; this includes visiting historic sights, Indian cooking classes, yoga classes, self-defense classes and learning about Indian religions, languages and the country. It’s a fantastic way to see Goa and you meet amazing people. My favorite part was touring an organic spice plantation.

The second week: Volunteering at the Teaching and Community Work in Goa project!!! The days are divided into two: mornings we did beach cleanup (depending on when you go you might have different activities in the morning). The beach cleanup definitely wasn’t easy. We picked up garbage – there was plenty – from the beautiful Goan beaches. There were loads of treasures, bottles, toothbrushes, wrappers and so much more. Towards the end we’d walk towards the car and play in the water.

After beach cleaning we’d return to the house, rest, plan the lessons with the kids and eat – usually rice with some sort of tasty Indian dish.

The afternoons, the highlight, the reason everyone came to India. We had a choice to spend our time at: a women’s shelter (it was mainly girls), an animal clinic (that’s the whole day), and 2 different schools of children of migrant workers. I chose one of the schools.

I was assigned to teach three 8-year-old boys, Sangam, Satyam and Annand. Together we did math and English, they spoke English well enough for me to teach them and joke around. I would say my biggest accomplishment, maybe in life, was teaching them division. Let me tell you, 8 year-olds are scared of division! Every time I would say the dreaded word they’d run. By the last day I knew I had to impart whatever wisdom I had left. I asked them what division meant and Annand said it meant divide, which I guess is true in a sense but he didn’t know what divide means. I explained the word “divide” by handing out an equal amount of stickers to each of them and taught them division by drawing lines then circling them into groups. By the end they were asking me to give them more problems to solve.

A volunteer who taught at the other school came back one day saying that she this was the happiest she felt this year. I never thought about it before she said anything, but as soon as her words were spoken I knew it was true. It truly is a magical experience.