My experience- Astrid Marie Stoltenberg!

My experience- Astrid Marie Stoltenberg!

I am a Long Term Volunteer since last August and I have 2 months left in India. Normally I work in a school for disabled children called WARDS

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There is another volunteer who works and lives with me in a PG where we share a flat with 6 Indian girls. In the school there are about 30 children but I mostly take care of 3. I try to teach them how to read, how to write, how to read the clock, Basic English. I can’t say that I achieved all I wanted to teach them but that is not what it is about. They have gained so many social skills. Some of the children that we don’t even take care of especially are so much more confident, only by giving them a little bit of attention. They`ve become more aware of how the world is by seeing it with us. I really enjoy my work and like to go there. Unfortunately, there are summer holidays right now which is why our current workplace is a boy’s orphanage in the center of Bangalore, Shivaji Nagar. There we play with the boys. That’s it. And I love it.  The moment when you enter the shelter and you see 10 smiling boys screaming AKKA (sister) is amazing. When they get away from the TV because you … play simple games with them, or you just try to communicate with them, never mind whether they speak English or not or weather you speak Kannada or not. Communication always works!

Besides our work the main purpose of our stay is the cultural experience. As we live together with Indian girls and there is always something to talk about, to laugh about…

Punjabi dance, cooking kesari bath or German food, talking about marriage in both cultures, discovering how to play western music or Bollywood on the guitar. That’s the life in my PG. But of course also adapting to Indian Culture such as being at home by 10, eating super spicy food, wearing chuddidhars, shaking your head. And, one of the parts that I love the most about Indian culture: Hospitality. Mine is yours, yours is mine. But anyway, the host will never let you pay anything, doesn’t matter how hard you try. In the beginning this was very strange to me because it is not like that in my culture. After some time I got used to it and saw the beauty in it. In fact, that’s what happened to almost all things over here (except the traffic 😉 ).

This week is my last week in the project and it is so hard to tell the children that we are leaving. Most of them will only understand it when we are already gone but some of them are already sad. Even for us it is very hard to imagine that we might not see them again in our life.

In the end I am very grateful and happy about my whole experience, the bad and the good one. This year has made me more mature, independent and self- confident.

I can say that I made friends on the other half of the world and I am sad when I think about leaving them. I know for sure that I will come back soon and continue to learn about India. Because you never really “know” India. There is always more. That’s what I love about this country.

Thank you FSL for giving me this experience.

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