“I decided to do UCDVO this year because I had never done any voluntary work before and I had heard really good things about this charity”. This summer, Engineering student, Sarah Greene was looking for a something a little different, and felt that a summer spent teaching English and Maths to children in New Delhi would be a rewarding experience.
Students working with the UCDVO travel to India, Haiti and Nicaragua and push their abilities working on projects mainly based in rural areas with local communities. These involve environmental, literacy, medical and construction initiatives.
Greene’s group worked on construction projects, and built a school in a rural slum, while another spent their days in an orphanage for children with intellectual disabilites. The Engineering student took on the role of an English teacher in two different schools, spending her mornings in one, and educating children of another during her afternoons.
Despite the long hours, Greene assured that she found it “incredibly rewarding getting to know the children and felt that they made a lot of progress”.
“One of the highlights of my experience was teaching this one little boy who just could not get his head around the concept of addition. We helped him for two weeks and he really struggled, but by the end of it he finally got it. It was incredible to see that we had made a difference in this boy’s life”.
While her time in India didn’t change her life, Greene is confident that it opened her eyes. “One thing that really stuck with me was how happy all the kids were. They had nothing and lived a really tough life, but they were just normal kids, they were bold and cheeky and such lovely children”.
Greene may have travelled to India to help others, but she also got a chance to spoil herself with a little exotic travel. While school was out, she soaked up the weekends in the Himalayas and the Ganes. “It was just incredible swimming in this huge mass of water that is the lifeline of India… we were absolutely awestruck with the scenery”.
After putting in a lot of hours at the blackboard, Greene is now dusting the chalk off and returning to her own studies, yet she knows that the entire experience “really worthwhile”, not only for herself, but for the children she worked with. “I definitely feel like they got a lot out of it. I would strongly recommend it; it is such a good thing to do for your summer”.