Smile at an INDIAN – they will immediately SMILE BACK – Anna

Smile at an INDIAN – they will immediately SMILE BACK – Anna

Namaste! My name is Anna, I am 19 years old, I’m from Germany and I am visiting for a voluntary year in India with FSL-India.

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Since August 2016, I have been living with an Indian host family in Madhuvana, a small village on the west coast of India, in Karnataka state, close by Kundapur and teaching English in a primary school. I am very happy that I have been given the chance to be here and experience a completely different way of living. It’s already seven months ago when I first arrived in India in August 2016. Back then I didn’t know much about the country I was going to live in for the next 11 months. By now I have learned and gained so many experiences about Indian culture and the Indian way of life. I have begun to learn the local language, I wear Indian dresses everyday and I got used to eating rice pretty much three times a day.

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From Monday to Friday I work as an English teacher at the Vivekananda Higher Primary School in Madhuvana. The school has 100 students from 1st to 7th standard. I mainly teach the younger ones from 1st to 5th standard. My main task is it to get the kids to talk English through songs, games and fun activities. I also practice writing and reading English and some simple grammar with my students, as well as discussing different topics, such as equality and environmental pollution, with the older classes. In the beginning I was struggling a bit since I didn’t know the local language and especially the younger classes where often hard to control. But the teachers at my school have always been so kind to me and helped me out a lot. Now after seven months I’m decent in Kannada, the local language of Karnataka state, I know all the names of my kids that I’m teaching every day and I somehow manage to control all my classes… most of the time. I have really good relationships with all the other teachers and all my students. I’m really happy with my project. My kids are adorable and make me smile and laugh every day! Many of them are very ambitious and very willing to learn. I can already see progress in my work which makes me really happy.

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My Indian host family is very supportive as well. My host mother is also a teacher at my school and my host dad teaches Hindi in a high school in the next village. I have two host-siblings; Panchami, my host sister is 14 years old and my little host brother and best friend Pankaj is 8 years old. I’m the first volunteer living in their family and they always try their best to make me feel comfortable. Pankaj’s English is improving a lot since we spend a lot of time together. We walk together to school every morning, play chess or candy crush afterwards and secretly eat candy. My host mother is very caring and always there for me. Every time I go for a trip, she tells me to take good care of myself and every time I come home I get welcomed with a big smile and a wiggling head-shake. I really feel at home here and part of the family. We have already shared so many funny and memorable moments I will never forget. We have been together to many temples and functions (an event or get-together where a family or an organization invites many people to have lunch together at their place) and I always enjoy spending time with my host family.  In my free time after school I meet my friends at the beach, go to the gym or cyber center in Kundapur or I go home to wash my clothes (with just a bucket, washing stone, water and soap) or I hang out with my host family.

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Since my stay here in India I have already visited quite some places. I have been to Bangalore, Mysore, Hampi, Gokarna and Goa. In October 2016 I flew to the north of India to visit Delhi, Agra with the Taj Mahal and Jaipur and in April I’m planning to go to Kerala. It is always very exciting and interesting to discover different parts of India. Traveling is a lot of fun!  Since India is a very diverse country there are a lot of unique and beautiful places to visit. But wherever you go, when you smile at an Indian they will immediately smile back at you and wiggle their head in excitement.

Time goes by so fast. Now I have only four more months to go. I am very thankful to be here and I know that I’m gonna miss all of this – my students, my host family and the traveling with my friends- very much when I go back home to Germany. I have experienced and learned so many things throughout the last seven months and I’m more than happy that I made the decision to come here to India to do voluntary service.

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