India had been a destination on my bucket list but I didn’t want to go out to the typical tourist spots, I wanted to get to know the real India, get to talk to the locals and learn first hand from their culture which I think is a far richer experience than getting to see the Taj Mahal and some of the main cities to be honest. Not that I don’t want to see the main attractions but before I did I wanted to make sure I knew a bit more about the culture. So, I went off to India as a volunteer before going on my travels around the country and it was thanks to Leave UR Mark that India became one of the best experiences of my life. There are of course many other organizations that will set you up with a volunteering opportunity in India and you could also find an NGO or internship to volunteer at directly without a third party but if you have never been to India before I highly recommend setting up with an organization that will guide you along the way.
My volunteer experience was something that can’t even be explained, it truly is something that must be lived and seen by your own eyes and mind. You might think you are coming over here to India to help but you will be surprised to know you are the one who is getting the most out of this experience; you learn so much from the people you meet and the things you see. You learn to appreciate the experiences you’ve had so far in life, you learn that people are different and think differently and become more tolerant, you learn that you are just a tiny drop in this earth, that there is so much to see and so many people out there and you were only part of this little bubble back home. Volunteering gives you a travel experience that no other trip will give you because you spend time with locals from all over the country that are happy to tell you everything about their traditions and families and not only that, they invite you into their homes and make you part of the family so you can see first hand what beliefs and traditions rule their lives. By volunteering I got to see the real India, the India that is hidden to many tourists out of the cities, in the middle of nowhere. You will meet people that have never met or seen a single foreigner and you will love to share your experience with them as well. You will see the most beautiful things when out in this country, and no I am not just talking about landscapes and monuments, I am taking about the beautiful things that change you. You will see people who barely have any food to feed their own families be as happy as ever and invite you to dine with them. You will see locals going out of their ways to make your India experience the best.
Now why I recommend signing up to a volunteering program… See, India is quite the culture shock and can be overwhelming for first timers. I had already been warned of many things before coming to India but even then my first few days in India were a bit stressful. Everything is different, nothing is the way you think it should be, you don’t speak the language, what makes sense to you makes no sense to locals, it’s a completely different culture and yes, it could also get a bit dangerous just like any other country can except India alone has 1/7 of the world’s population so the chances of finding yourself in a bad situation increase greatly. So before coming, make sure you do a ton of research and if you guys have any questions you know you can always email me but let me tell you guys about the organization I did my volunteering with, it’s the only one I have personal experience with so I couldn’t really tell you about any other opportunities but I could provide some tips before heading out here. But if you can set up with someone who knows the ropes, it will give you more time to relax an travel around India instead of worrying about the little details.
Leave UR Mark is an organization that collaborates with professional organizations, non-profits, NGOs, fair trade organizations and start-ups that are working for the betterment of India exclusively. Leave UR Mark becomes your home in India, they help you set up with an organization of your choosing wether it is volunteering or an internship, they will provide housing and meals as well as suggestions for things to do over the weekends which most volunteers and interns get off and the most important one is they are truly your go-to people here in India. They will be available to assist you with anything 24/7. When away in a new country in a new culture it’s always easier to have a backup, a wingman, a local contact that will answer any questions that might arise, this is wereLeave UR Mark comes in. Here are my top 5 reasons to volunteer with a local Indian enterprise.
Leave UR Mark works with several businesses and non-profits that will cater to your needs and wants; the program will be appointed to you based on research of your likes and goals and make sure that there is a good match for both the intern/volunteer as well as the organization or business. There are varied opportunities to chose from; event management, journalism, marketing, teaching, environmental, medical, animal conservancy amongst many others.
2. Housing and meals
Leave UR Mark housing is located in a residential area, next to one of the newest malls in Bangalore, Mantri Mall. Depending on the number of volunteers there is each month either one or several condominiums are reserved in this residential high rise which is gated and has a team 24/7. Dinner is always served at a scheduled time and everyone eats dinner together which is a great way to meet all the rest of the volunteers that might not be staying at the same condo as yourself. Meals are included in the program pricing and you will also be appointed a project coordinator that will come to the house regularly to answer any questions you might have or help out in any way and to organize some group activities as well to get to know everyone.
3. Getting to know India
The organization will help you with suggestions on where to visit in India during weekdays afterwork or during the weekends as well, that is if you wish to travel anywhere out of Bangalore of course.Leave UR Mark will assist with the transportation, things to do and some safety tips and recommendations as well. The good thing is that you will be living with other 5-10 volunteers so you usually don’t travel by yourself, you organize an outing with the group but you could also travel on your own no problem. I did it myself and I was just fine, you will meet many people along your travels as well.
Throughout your volunteer experience you will meet with several NGOs, organization leaders, CEOs, speakers and writers that will help make your experience in India the most unique possible as well as allow for networking and advise on the filed of your choosing. It’s a great learning experience in the task force being that you are working with people around the world, not only from India. They will serve not only as mentors but possibly a connection for future opportunities in your career and travel plans.
5. Making new friends
Travel is a great experience for any individual but it is also a great experience to share with someone and India is an experience that must be shared, it is really something that marks you and the people that you get to live it give will forever be a mark in your life as well. The volunteers and interns you meet in the program will become really good friends guaranteed being that they are here in India just as you are, wanting to become a part of the culture, learn from the people and of course help in any way possible. You already have a big thing in common with everyone so the rest will come easily.
For more information on Leave UR Mark please follow link.