The January started off quite well. I was visiting Goa with a couple of other LTV volunteers over New Years, therefore spent my first days of the year in good company and surrounded by happy people. When I returned home, there was lots of work in the schooling project‚ Arivu School’ to do since I was going to perform for‚ Arivu Habba‘, the biggest celebration so far in my project. I was practicing traditional Indian music with a couple of very talented musicians.
In my host family the chemistry was kind of tense. My relationship with my host brothers and the most mom was very good. Minor issues occur in every host family, but since they became major issues and happened almost weekly, I decided to switch my host family. My coordinator kindly took care of the situation, so that it went smoothly.
Just a day afterwards I had found a new, very sweet and caring family. I knew them from my project already since they’re parents of two of my students. The kids are precious also. And the most amazing thing is that I get to live in my own small house. The new host father had build a wooden cabin during Covid times which includes a bathroom, space for a bed, a small kitchenette and a desk and chair. Loads of space for a volunteer.
With the drastic changes in my host family, my general experience has improved by a lot. My way to the city is far now, but that goes along with beautiful and calming nature surrounding me. Also, my way to the project is way closer than before.
The new family is less traditional and follows a more ‚modern‘ and ‚western‘ lifestyle. Comparing the two families, I probably had more active cultural learnings in the old family since they were doing Pooja every day and had lots of rules and regulations regarding their cultural lifestyle. However, the new family is very educated and therefore are able to talk with me about the culture of India and the way they see things. Whenever I tried this with my old host family, I would ask what a particular tradition stands for, there would just be confusion. The usual answer could be paraphrased as: ‚We do this because it’s old tradition‘.
The new host family on the other hand offers interesting insights and new views on the Indian culture verbally through conversations. They also helped me indirectly to understand my old family, at least to some extent.
In the last month, I’ve been traveling quite a bit. First Goa, later a hiking trip to Coorg, a trip to Kundapura for FSL’s Social Leadership Training and up next are the MTV (mid-term evaluation for all LTVs) and another journey to Rajasthan for the Holi festival.
In conclusion, I am excited to continue my new start in India and look forward to many new experiences with my new family.
By Bela Maurer (LTV Volunteer, AFS-FSL India)