You are here: Volunteer experiences

From 1982 to 2015 VRI ran a volunteering scheme.

Here are some insights and quotes from past volunteers:-

visitors talking to girls at the local school

meeting students at the local school

volunteers dancing at the festival of Holi

celebrating the colourful (!) festival of Holi

the village market

the village market

polio immunisation promotion campaign

experience development: polio immunisation promotion campaign

volunteers in the sugar cane field, wearing indian clothes

volunteers wear Indian clothes to fit in with local standards of smartness and decency

visitors make friends with local teachers and students

meeting local students and project staff

visitors make friends with local teachers and students

meeting local students and project staff

A really good insight into rural life in India

"Staying in Amarpurkashi provided a really good insight into rural life in India. It was a peaceful and stress-free place to stay and gave me valuable time to think and reflect away from the constant distractions that you find in cities. It was a great opportunity to meet local people, practise Hindi and yoga, get involved in community activities and protests and learn about and discuss the social and environmental issues affecting modern India. Iím sure that experiencing a place so different to my normal life will mean that I will have these memories with me for many years to come."

Adam Merchant, volunteer in March 2012

Unique opportunity

"Thank you for enabling me to have such a special and unique opportunity. My time in APK will always be special and held with fondness as I think of the generous, welcoming and fun-loving people I met during my stay and the gorgeous food I got to eat (and without putting on any weight!)."

Anne Richardson, volunteer in October 2012

It encouraged me to venture off the tourist track

"Travelling India and meeting its people is easy, but you will always be a tourist, staying in guest houses, eating in restaurants and mainly interacting with young Indians who are working in the tourist industry. Spending time in APK is not only a great opportunity to teach English and learn a little bit of Hindi, but also to experience life in rural India first hand -- no tourist facilities, no special food or drink and no internet.

I'm very happy I chose to start my first India trip in APK as it helped me understand just how traditional most parts of India still are and how different the realities of most people's lives in the countryside are from what we can experience as tourists in places such as Mumbai, Rishikesh and Rajasthan.

What I experienced in APK encouraged me to venture off the tourist track on numerous occasions and to not only stick to destinations listed by travel guides or recommended by other travellers. "

Lilian Pithan, volunteer in January 2011

The confidence to go to India

"I am not sure I would have had the confidence to go to India if I hadn't found VRI. I learnt so much about the culture first hand. The experience definitely enhanced the rest of my travels around India."

Karen PV Feb 2010

I immediately felt at home....Every day brought new discoveries

"Going to APK was truly one of the most fascinating experiences I have had in my life. It was my first time in India (first time in Asia in fact) and I got there full of dreams and with a bit of anxiety. I immediately felt at home at APK. I felt truly welcomed there and treated as a guest, not as an outsider.

Every day brought new discoveries and new learning. I got to be involved in diverse activities around the school including teaching English and Maths at the primary school, designing and making educational posters for the junior high school - geometry, English verbs, flags of the world, painting quotes on the walls, conversation and computer classes with the master students, science fair, eye camp,pollution campaign etc.

The day would start with an early yoga session and end with a conversation hour with Babuji which were two of my favorite moments. With Babuji, we used to talk about a different topic every night, including Hinduism and other religions, education in India, politics in India, life in the village, women in India, corruption, the caste system and even Artificial Intelligence (my branch, which Babuji was really interested in!). Those discussions had a profound impact on me and I am still thinking about them regularly, to this day!

I made good friends at APK within the staff and students. We went for long "terrace walks" at night (chasing away the monkeys!) and had fierce badminton competitions in the afternoon. After leaving APK I got to travel quite a bit around India and to volunteer at another organization in the South. APK gave me the tools, confidence and insights about Indian culture which helped me make the most of my time in India. I always felt APK was my Indian home where I would be welcomed back any time. Living in an Indian village was the experience of a life time - can't wait to go back! "

Thierry David Donneau-Golencer, volunteer in October 2010


For a more informal and personal view of the scheme, we suggest you have a look at some of the blogs created by previous project Volunteers. To help you, here are some links. (Please note that any views expressed in the blogs are the bloggers' own and do not necessarily reflect the views of VRI).

Lydia, Feb 2007, describes her APK experiences, including the festival of Holi

Ian, Nov 2005, describes a day at APK, and is inspired by his visit to the NSP project in Orissa

Howard, Nov 2004, talks about Indian life, APK and getting to know the college lecturers.

Paul, Nov 2004, describes a typical day as a project Volunteer

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