My Wonderful Experience in Sathankulam

20/01 2017  Tamil Nadu

Meeting an amazing community in the heart of Tamil Nadu

All volunteers at Ave Maria centre Tuc-tuc riding

I would like first to say again how thankful I am and how much I appreciated the efforts of everyone involved in making my stay in Sathankulam a wonderful experience. It was a big challenge for me to come alone to a new place and to meet lots of new people and to live and work in such a different culture, and for the first time to be in a school and working with children. This was made less difficult thanks to the efforts of everyone involved at the school and at the house.

In regards to the school, I start by saying it is a fantastic place, full of happiness and love. Everyone involved should be very proud of what has been achieved there. The children all seemed very happy, the teachers in good spirits and committed to the education of the children. I think it is important that we have all learned and continue to learn from all volunteer experiences. I had some fantastic lessons, and hope the children had fun playing some of the games I created. I think one good thing was that on most days we found a balance where I could spend time thinking of activities and then do the activities with the children.

Working with each standard was nice, I think I got to interact with all the students at least once. I think and hope that what I achieved at the school met the expectations of the teachers. It was my first experience of being in a school, my first experience of being in a classroom with students and it was scary at times and I was very nervous!

In regards to the house, the ladies did wonderful job with food and making it home. It is a very difficult thing to have many people from many cultures and countries in one house, and not realistic to think that this can be a perfect experience for everyone at all times.

One point that is important to say is that I came to Ave Maria as part of a help-exchange. This is a unique tool for bringing people together, but finding a balance for volunteers and hosts is very important. The principle of help-exchange is that in exchange for the help of a volunteer, the host will provide food and accommodation. The centre requires a donation to cope with the living costs of the volunteers, which is not part of the help-exchange philosophy. Every volunteer shall decided whether to donate or not, and it is not compulsory.

To conclude, my experience was wonderful. As ever in life all we can do is try and learn and progress. I hope a time comes when my travelling is finished here I will be able to help in the future and I'm enjoying seeing the photo's on facebook. One day I will surely be back!

Tom