More than one year ago, I applied for a social service in India. After a short time, I signed the contract and on 5th August 2017, I arrived in India. I left the airport and my first thought was, “It is cold here!“ Maybe, because we arrived at 3 a.m. in the morning.
After one week of orientation at FSL-India’s Centre for Experiential Living, Kundapura we went to our host families. My FSL-India coordinator showed me the bus to Heskatturu, but she didn’t tell me where I had to get off. After 30 minutes, the conductor left the bus and I was almost alone. After another 30 minutes, a man said we’re at Heskatturu now. Then I met my host family for the first time. I didn’t have any information about them before, but I felt comfortable starting with the first second.
The next day was the first day at GHS Heskutturu. Normally, the children have a half school day on Saturday, but there weren’t any normal lessons because everything was focused on Independence Day. But after some days, I had my first regular lessons, I got my timetable and school became part of my everyday life. And it is a great school!! The students are great, the teachers are great, the atmosphere is great. I’m sitting at the office room, teachers are talking and laughing the whole time, everyone seems to be equal, the school staff is one team and I am very happy to be a part of it for one year.
Sometimes the work with the children is very hard because they don’t speak English and I don’t speak Kannada. But it is always real fun and I enjoy every second of it. Mostly, I teach some basic English grammar and sometimes, we play a game (I use this as a reward system). It isn’t always easy to find something that I can teach because the level of spoken English varies a lot within one class.
For some students, the lessons might be too difficult, for others they are too easy. There is just one thing that all students can say, “Sir, one minute!“ and they are gone! All in all, it is a great experience to work with the children here at Heskatturu and I enjoy every minute. It’s always a nice moment when they are smiling at me and for me, it is a kind of confirmation of my work at school.
If I’m not at school, I’m with my host family. Here, I have my host parents, a host brother and a host sister. And I have my own room! I am very happy about this because I have my privacy at any time. I often talk to my host family, sometimes I discuss the differences between India and Germany with my host brother. The few first days, everything was new and sometimes, I didn’t know how I had to do something. They have shown me how their life works and they often take me to any family function, e.g. a pregnancy function. I’m happy to live with an Indian family because like this, I am inside the Indian culture!
If I’m not with my host family, I meet other volunteers or I travel. There are about 20–30 volunteers between Mangalore and Kundapur, and most of them are German. We often go to Udupi or Kundapur, visiting the Krishna Temple, relaxing at Malpe Beach, buying materials for school, or anything for ourselves. We exchange our experiences, which is very important for me!
All Indian people are very friendly and open-minded towards us. If I’m sitting in the bus, in the park, in a shop or restaurant or just looking around, people come to me and the first question is, “Where are you from?“ After that, they ask what I’m thinking about India if I like India, what I am doing here in India and so on. And after this conversation, they ask if we can take a selfie together. Mostly, the questions are always the same, but I really like to share my experiences I’m gaining here in India and I never would be tired of answering the same questions all the time. This is what I like about the Indian people! And I always ask the same questions back to them, “Where do you live in India?“
I met many nice and very interesting people during my travels, e.g. a manager of a big food company from Bangalore. Sometimes, people even invite me to their home if I’m living nearby. I already have a huge collection of Indian numbers! If I have any problems or any questions in general, I can ask anyone for help, e.g. finding the correct bus. I don’t speak or read Kannada, so I need help! Indian people are very helpful and I always get a friendly answer. But I’ve experienced that I have to ask at least 2 to 3 people because sometimes you get a wrong or completely different answer.
All in all, I really like India, its people, its mentality and I love Indian food!! There is just one thing I don’t like about India – mostly the weather is too hot for me! I really enjoyed the last 6 months which belong to the most important months in my life. I hope that the coming 5 months will be as great as the last 6 months!