Hello, my name is Frauke and I am from Germany. I came through Praktikawelten and FSL India to Kundapur, where I spent 5 amazing weeks.
I was staying in a joined family of 11 which got me to know the typically big, loud and warm-hearted Indian family. I enjoyed it very much as it never got boring and gave me a great insight. The family members were all very nice, welcoming and always helpful. I was lucky that all 4 daughters were in my age and able to speak English. That way integration was very easy, but unfortunately, with the older generation I could not communicate well. It took me one week to get used to the hygiene and standard of life. They had an Indian toilet outside in the backyard and the outdoor bathroom had no shower but water buckets. Furthermore, they wash, prepare food and feed the chickens at the same place in front of the house. It was strange at first, but I soon simply accepted it and took it as an experience. And it turned out to be one of the best. The social life let me easily overlook these differences by playing cards, doing Yoga or chit chatting. I will always cherish the pictures in my head of how my host family cooked on open fire, prepared the home temple and washed the laundry. I learned how to enjoy a simple life.
Furthermore, I took part in a social project for one month which was working in a Kindergarden. There were around 13 children (age 2–5) as well as one head teacher and a helper. I taught Basic English, introduced songs and games and we drew a lot of pictures to learn colors. I also exercised writing the ABC and counting to 10. In the beginning it was very hard as neither the teachers nor the children or parents have had a lot of contact with volunteers so far. They kept asking weird things and some demanded me to learn and speak Kannada. But soon I started to realize that Indians are very curious and interested. I only had to make sure that the children did not start to call me “foreigner”. Unfortunately, I did not get a lot of support from the head teacher, who was very busy and almost never there. Because of the language gab, I felt lost. But after a few days, I started to take the liberty as an opportunity to create my own teaching methods. I formed kind of a daily routine and tried to introduce as many ideas as possible. I quickly earned a lot of respect by everyone and my work was appreciated very much. In return, I received so much love from the children and felt very proud when they started to say “Good morning, teacher” and “I am eating”. Also the teachers warmed up towards me and we talked a lot – even if only in a few English words, a cultural exchange was possible. However, I never got used to the hitting and harsh methods the teacher used in order to get the children to write, be silent or just simply build a circle. I hope to have shown that learning can be fun and that there are other methods to earn respect and to educate. I myself learnt that children don’t care about your nationality, do not need many toys to play with and can give you so much back if you just try. The greatest thing I have realized is that body language is the clearest communication of all and if you watch carefully you will understand a lot.
Through these opportunities I got to know a lot about India, its religions, dishes, system, people, way of life, social behaviors and a little bit of language. I have learned more about my own roots, culture and social background than ever before. I hope you will take the chance to see the “real” India. As soon as you accept the differences and take India the way it is, you will have an awesome time in one of the most beautiful cultures and countries. I thank FSL India very much for these great experiences, their support and especially for the dance classes.