There was a flurry of activity at Gourmet Extension, Christ University, Bangalore in the early hours of 29th June.
An enthusiastic group of young people were clearing and arranging the open space, preparing for the inauguration of ‘Learning by Serving’ a photography exhibition, showcasing the journey of the FSL India`s Long Term Volunteers, funded by the Weltwärts program.
The program was facilitated by FSL-India through their partnership with AFS Germany and jointly organized with the Department of Social Work, Christ University. The photographs depicted the volunteers’ journey from their on-arrival orientation to the project end – their challenges in adapting to a new culture away from their families, their personal development, and most importantly, their contribution to the local communities.
After quite some deliberation and discussion, the volunteers and the FSL-India LTV team placed and pinned the photographs on a black background, to enhance their beauty. The photographs were placed on either side of the exhibition space and classified under 5 themes – Regular Teaching, Culture, Orphan, Special and Street Children Teaching, Women Empowerment and Environment. Finally, all the arrangements were done and the visitors were awaited.
By 10:00 am, Gourmet Extension was a sea of milling students and guests. The air was fraught with excitement as the crowd eagerly awaited the inauguration of the photography exhibition. The event kicked off with an invocation by the MSW students of Christ College, which was followed by the welcome address and introduction by FSL-India’s President, Mr Rakesh Soans. The traditional lamp was first lit by the Chief Guest, Mr Götz Ortmann, Cultural Officer, German Consulate General, Bangalore followed by Mr Anil Pinto, Registrar, Christ University, Mr Victor Paul, HOD – Social Work, Christ University, Mr Rakesh Soans and Mr Ragland Devadas, Deputy Director, FSL-India. Mr Götz Ormann delivered the inaugural address and next, a handbook highlighting the volunteers’ individual experiences in their projects was released by Mr Anil Pinto.
The LTV volunteers lined up enthusiastically on either side and talked about their experiences to the students and guests, who listened with great interest. After that, the visitors participated in group discussions with the volunteers, who answered all their queries, generating further interest in FSL-India’s programs.
The LTV team manning the information desk received several queries on FSL-India’s programs and some of the visitors requested for updates on YDP and Outbound. Feedback from the visitors was very positive:
Enjoyed and learned a lot from the volunteers. Need more time and interaction from the volunteers.
It was good interacting with the volunteers and looking forward for more sessions with FSL-India and interactive sessions to understand the lifestyle and diversity of other people from various other places more in-depth knowledge and explore.
We were able to understand the programs the volunteers were part of. Would love to work with such teams and interact with rural people and help in the development of society for sustainable growth and development. Looking forward for more.
The program was really great. It gave us a chance to mingle with the German people. How they worked for us and in what ways we could work here. Thanks a lot for providing us with this opportunity. It was really great. So good.
As a volunteer we enjoyed a lot from you. Also, we got a good responsibility to interact with you all. We got more ideas and the functioning of FSL-India. By interacting with the German volunteers, we learned more new things and also understood our own culture in many ways.
Mr Götz Ortmann was extremely gracious and spent the entire time engaging with the volunteers, leaving only after having lunch with them. Quoting Mr Ormannn: Thank you for the kind invitation to your wonderful exhibition. I wish you a lot of success for your future activities.