Greetings from FSL-India’s Centre for Experiential Living, Kundapur!
My name is Marta, aged 28, Spanish and I came to India for a 7-month, EVS project. However, I am in tears leaving FSL-India after 2 ½ years!
It is going to be tough, but I will try to put into words what my stay and work in India have meant to me in these 32 months. I must say that my experience in India has provided me with the best memories of my life, as well as the most challenging ones in a professional, personal and social way. At the same time, they have meant the biggest learnings in my life.
Living in a country as different as India is to mine, with such a different culture and different way of understanding life, work, religion, family, love -everything- to the one I am used to, made me analyse many things inside me, getting great insights not only about Indian culture but also about mine. It made me grow as a professional as much as a human being.
I always think that living abroad will provide you with wonderful learnings. That is one of the reasons why I highly encourage people to volunteer abroad for at least a few months in their life. Furthermore, living in a country like India cannot leave you indifferent at all.
In a few days, I was already eating with my hands and starting to enjoy spicy food thanks to the support I received from FSL-India, given in the orientation week, on my arrival. In a few weeks, I was already wearing typical Indian clothes and even pronouncing some words of the local language, called Kannada.
I was starting to get used to the chaotic traffic, to the cows and dogs in the streets, to the mix of smells, to the magical colours, to the landscapes, the eyes and smiles of people, and the endless list of breath-taking things that make India what it is. In a very short time, Shetrakatte, a tiny village in the rural area of India, had become home to me.
Professionally, I was lucky to work with an amazing group of people who, regardless of the huge cultural differences, managed to kind of understand each other, so as to make of the group a great team.
When I arrived, my project was a baby project, not being much more than loads of papers and ideas that after we started our hands-on work, became extraordinary work towards community development. It has been a phenomenal experience to see how the Centre for Experiential Living (CEL) has been growing day by day, however big the challenges.
CEL is a place that requires loads of patience and willingness to find a common understanding among highly different people working for the same goals. It is a place that requires love from the ones who take part in it – from the international volunteers coming for 2 weeks, to the local staff being there indefinitely.
It requires love for the animals, nature, cultural exchange, the community, and the people and that is what I gained.
This experience is not full of only positives. Not having your people around, having to be patient in order to understand and be understood, the need of a high level of pro-activeness to succeed, having to get used to the social rules in such an extreme country like this one, etc – it is not easy at all.
My theory: every experience will provide you with a unique learning, even more special if the situation is not easy. I think you grow a lot and feel much freer when you adopt this life statement and enjoy the way, however tough the moments.
It is said that India is a country that you fall in love with, or you will not like it at all. In my case, India is a country, which will always have a special space in my heart wherever fate takes me.
I will never forget all the volunteers, short or long term, the locals, the community people, everyone who made my stay as beautiful as it has been. Thanks a lot!
I am highly grateful to FSL-India for the opportunity, for the trust, for the experience. Here I learned, I grew and I got the most precious experiences, memories, and values that I will never get anywhere else. Needless to say, the people…