Whenever I am travelling to a new place, I am always worried that the region I am in will be so different from home that I won’t be able to handle it, or that it will be so similar that I will be disappointed. India has proved to be neither. Throughout my first few weeks here, I have been pleasantly surprised by what is new and interesting to me here, while still comforted by reminders of home (like the fast food restaurants that allow us a break from the spicy food every once in a while). I have seen this internship as another stage in my development as an international worker, and was determined that this semester would be the one where I went international. I am glad to be doing it through the Faculty of Social Sciences and CWY as they have helped to smooth the departure and integration process. I feel that I have been well prepared for my internship, and I am less likely to be fazed when met with challenges.
When the India interns first arrived in Delhi, we were given a few days at the hotel to adjust and see some of the sights in the city. This allowed us to adjust to the country without being completely overwhelmed by jet lag, culture shock, and other problems. After a few days we split up and each went to their own placement. I stayed in Delhi, along with two other students, and began my placement at the Society for Participatory Integrated Development (SPID).
So far, my impression is that Delhi is a good place for interns that do not have a lot of experience travelling abroad and are looking to take steps towards international work, as I am. There are some challenges in adapting to any country. In the case of Delhi it might be to the heat, the spicy food, the stares, locating what you wish to purchase, purchasing goods at the non-tourist price, and obeying the incomprehensible rules of the road. Fortunately, as you spend more and more time here, you begin to figure it out and gain more independence, and then you can have a truly rewarding experience.
I have really enjoyed getting to know my colleagues at SPID, of which several are able to speak English and will communicate with us (me and my fellow Canadian) in our native language, while still teaching us some Hindi. We have also enjoyed meeting some of the girls living in the other rooms at our accommodations and others that engage with us in our daily lives, such as our daily rickshaw driver and the girl that cleans our room. Communication is not always easy, but with the limited Hindi that we have been learning and with the English that our new acquaintances have under their belts, and with many hand gestures, we can generally get by.
At SPID, we have been working on writing and editing content for promotional materials, the website, and other projects. There are two offices that we have been working out of, the Gender Resource Centre (GRC) and, more regularly, the Vocational Training Centre, SMART. We are able to work independently, checking in with our supervisor to ensure that we are on the right track and to gain more information or direction as needed. We were able to observe a Health Camp here in Delhi last week, which was probably the highlight of my work at SPID, and though we did not feel that we helped in ways we wished we could, it was nice to see how SPID interacts with the community it serves. We may also have a chance to visit the office in Agra, which would be exciting for us. Our supervisor has been very attentive in ensuring that we are comfortable and happy both in our placement at SPID and at our accommodations. It is a comfort to know that there are people looking out for us, and I hope that I will be able to return the favour with the best quality of work possible.
I am very glad that I have this opportunity to work internationally and to experience more of the culture on the weekends and evenings, as well as through conversations with our colleagues. Being one who is fascinated by other country’s cultures, national history, architecture, and other aspects of daily life, I have thoroughly enjoyed the experiences, celebrations, and excursions of which I have had the opportunity to take part. India is a beautiful and fascinating country, and I am thoroughly enjoying my time here.