If I had to describe my first month in India in one word it would be colourful. From the moment I stepped off the plane in Delhi I have experienced a sensory overload of noises, smells, and the most brilliant colours. From the beautiful spices and fruits lining the streets, to the women’s kurtas and glittering saris, to the colourful buildings – everywhere I look something catches my eye. I have been overwhelmed by the amount of beauty I witness on a daily basis. To say that life is different here from at home in Canada would be an understatement. Although I felt prepared upon my arrival after lots of research, speaking to people who had traveled here, the university’s pre-departure training, and iVolunteer’s training in Delhi, I am still surprised by things every day. For instance, walking to the grocery store around the corner from my apartment and walking smack in to an elephant carrying a man to a mysterious destination. I can honestly say that I learn something new every day, whether it be the name of a strange looking yet delicious vegetable, that the countless cows roaming the streets are the only thing that slows traffic down, a new word in Hindi, or a way to eat a mango without cutting it open (which is surprisingly easy and fun!).
I was worried that the adjustment to my life here at Seva Mandir in Udaipur would be very stressful and difficult. However, I feel settled, challenged, and happy. Work is from 10-6 Monday through Saturdays, with the second Saturday of every month off. I am working in both the Education and Resource Mobilization units and have learnt more practical experience in the past month then I have in my entire life. Working here in Udaipur is a perfect combination of getting to experience rural and remote villages during field work, but getting to enjoy a high energy city, that is small enough to navigate easily. As a result, I have a well rounded living situation, with lots to see and do in the city, and the ability to go to the field often and push myself further outside of my comfort zone. Udaipur is so beautiful! There are so many moments when I’m either riding by one of the many lakes on the back of a scooter, or gazing from a rooftop at the city palace lit up at night, that I think to myself “I CANNOT BELIEVE I GET TO LIVE HERE FOR THREE MONTHS!”. And the food. I could go on forever, but all I will say is one dollar for an unlimited Thali style dinner is a pretty wonderful perk.
In terms of the work itself, my main project if reopening a Youth Resource Center in a small community outside of Udaipur. The village is segregated based on religion and the purpose of the center is to bring youth of different backgrounds together to understand the different issues that they face. We are still in the process of canvasing the area and finding out what activities and training are a priority for the youth, but soon we will be going daily, teaching English, and facilitating games and activities. In addition, I have been writing grant proposals which has been such a useful skill to learn! I have also written blogs and updated the website, worked on social media strategies, written update reports on different projects to donors, and conducted interviews and taken photographs in the field. There is lots of work to do, and I am happy that I have taken the initiative to seek it in different departments since this has been a great way to learn more about the different projects that Seva Mandir works on and how it is run. The other interns have been very welcoming, helping me to feel comfortable in an entirely new environment. There is a small group of international interns at the moment (the 45 degree heat has deterred many from coming) and I live with two of them in an apartment attached to the NGO office. The heat has definitely been a challenge but I am honestly enjoying myself so much that it’s nothing a little bucket shower doesn’t fix. I can’t believe a third of my internship is done, but I will definitely be making the most of my remaining time here.