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Posts Tagged ‘Gap year’

My name is Claire Ferguson, a Program Leader with Operation Groundswell, located in Toronto, Canada
Operation Groundswell is a Toronto based organization that organizes and facilitates 6-week educational and volunteer backpacking programs throughout the world for youth aged 18-30.

Welcome: We were warmly welcomed by the family. The guesthouse was very clean and we felt right at home! Even though it was late, they had dinner ready.
Homestay: The homestay was fantastic. Jeevan’s family is very kind and made us feel like part of the family. It was easy to spend hours lounging around the house.
Family and Food: Gunja cooks so much! I can’t believe how much food is prepared in such a small kitchen. Everything was delicious, and all our participants with allergies or particular food needs were accommodated. There was always LOTS of food, and although we aren’t used to eating so late at night, we were certainly always very hungry once dinner time came around.
Nature: The area is beautiful , although the thought of leopards made it scary to go to the bathroom at night.
Project: I think we were able to contribute what we could to the project, though we weren’t always sure we were being helpful. It wasn’t always clear who decided which member of the community would receive the toilet (whether the community at large decided, or whether the Verma family decided). It would have been nice to know more about the family that we were building the toilet for, to get to know them and their situation, or to learn more about the importance of a clean santitation system, as it is something we often take for granted at home.
Culture: Jeevan did a great job exposing is to Kamaon culture, bringing us to many temples in the area, and inviting us to part of a wedding ceremony. We weren’t really sure what the ceremony was for before we went, but we found out. More information about the marriage process would be interesting.
Community: I think we integrated really well into the Verma family, but didn’t engage much with the rest of the community. Everyone seemed very friendly and welcoming though.
Claire Ferguson
Claire@operationgroundswell.com
Toronto, Ontario
Canada
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Dear Universities,

Greetings.  I am writing to introduce you to a noble effort in village ecotourism in rural India. It is called the Rural Opportunity for Social Elevation (R.O.S.E.) and was founded in 1981 by local residents concerned about the plight of the poor in the Kanda area of Uttarakhand, India.  In 1988 it began accepting international volunteers, eco tourists and students.  Since then it has accepted over 300 people from all over the world to work and live immersed in village life and the local culture  for anywhere from 1 week to six months.  It is a unique approach to tourism that supports and uplifts the local community .R.O.S.E. is currently trying to reach out like-minded individuals and organizations in order to form a network to share information and bring awareness to its existence. To find out more about R.O.S.E., the work it does, and the opportunities it provides for tourists please visit http://www.rosekanda.info   http://bageshwar.nic.in/excursions.htm
Email-jlverma.rosekanda@gmail.com

This activites has had a number of students over the years who have used this experience to study for their dissertations and even for their masters degrees .I was wondering if you could take the time to read about this project and check our awards in the hope that you might promote this to your student unions and even specific faculties that may find this a beneficial opportunity for learning. We have made some major improvements to the lives of people in this community but we can go further with the help of young fresh minds with experience in engineering, computing, ecology, agriculture and more. There are endless opportunities for students to get back down to grassroots and experience life with basic materials and make a direct impact with their knowledge through education.

Most studies by students in the past have been in reference to organic faming methods and the problem with soil erosion as nearly all the surrounding landscape has been developed into farming land for raising crops. Some have educated the locals on the benefits of biogas systems so that methane can be harvested from common waste. This allows the locals to use methane as a source of fuel rather than contributing to soil erosion by cutting down trees.

In order for us to continue going forward it is important for us to attract the correct minds, particularly innovators! Engineers may be able to teach local builders how to improve in their practices and also may have better ideas on alternative energy. We suffer from power cuts regularly and internet is limited to dial up, which is a new thing here also. Any way that we can take advantage of our environment without causing harm to the environment and the local community is a definite direction to go in. Unfortunately with limited knowledge of new technologies and poor access to the proper reading materials we cannot achieve this on our own!

Thank you for your kind attention and I hope you take the time to check out our website.  Please write if you have any questions or if you have any suggestions on other ways we could promote this opportunity.

Yours Sincerely,
Jeevan Lal Verma

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Greetings.  I am writing to introduce you to a noble effort in Village Eco Tourism in rural India. It is called the Rural Organization for Social Elevation (R.O.S.E.) and was founded in 1981 by local residents concerned about the plight of the poor in the Kanda area of Uttarakhand, India.  In 1988 it began accepting international volunteers, eco tourists and students.  Since then it has accepted over 300 people from all over the world to work and live immersed in village life and the local culture  for anywhere from 1 week to six months.  It is a unique approach to tourism that supports and uplifts the local community .R.O.S.E. is currently trying to reach out like-minded individuals and organizations in order to form a network to share information and bring awareness to its existence. To find out more about R.O.S.E., the work it does, and the opportunities it provides for tourists please visit http://www.rosekanda.orghttp://www.bageshwar.nic.in/excursions.htm

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Dear Jeevan and all involved with Jeevan Paying Guest Unit’
Thank you for a wonderful stay I thoroughly enjoyed my self .The volunteering was flexible and well organised. I wish I could stay longer in Kanda and India , as this place is friendly and full of great volunteers. ROSE gave me the opportunity to meet many people and in very thankful. From construction with local community people and maths class in the School, the options available are fantastic. The local Indian food is pretty good too! I will check the web side regularly for developments.
All the best guys!
Matthew
Email- mattbreakell@hotmail.com
20 August 2011

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I had never volunteered abroad before and so I hadn’t known what
to expect when I got off the jeep after my 7 hour ride from Haldwani
to Jeeevan Paying Guest Unit (JPGU) Sunargaon, Kanda, Bageshwar.
Uttarakhand, India Now, however, I feel as if I want to stay forever.
The people here are incredibly nice and welcoming and you feel almost
like a permanent resident of Kanda. I personally feel like a part of
the Verma family now and I’m sure that many of the other volunteers
feel the same. The best part of this experience for me, though, was
helping in the village. There are so many opportunities to help others
that need it. One need only ask! If you really want to help people and
experience the culture of village India while being surrounded by
astounding scenery, I think that JPGU / ROSE is one of the best
opportunities available.
Arjun Bhuptani,
Indian (NRI)
Abu Dhabi, UAE.
22-08-2011

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I came to Mr Verma’s Project having no conception of what to expect but was very excited at the prospect of volunteering to contribute in whatever way I could. I have to confess that I was a little apprehensive about getting to Kanda, as I was travelling alone, however those concerns were soon relieved by Mr Verma who promptly responded to my phone calls and emails…. I was collected by his son Jitendra from Haldwani. The journey from Haldwani to Kanda is long but beautiful and Mr Verma son made sure I was comfortable. I arrived at Mr Verma home greeted by other volunteers and the family. I had a chat with Mr Verma about the project and help he would like and what I could do. He is a lovely man and keen to promote the project.
The day to day living for Mr Verma’s family is tough. Early start and late finish. Working in the fields, home and with animals. It is an extremely relaxed lifestyle here. You can do as much as you like or as little and soon the stresses of our so called developed world start to melt away. The children, Gautum and Shivam, Mr. verma grandchildren are gorgeous as is the rest of the family. After a happy two weeks stay here, I feel part of Mr Verma’s family. I have enjoyed the celebrations, of shiva day and rakhee day. In fact Mr Verma is now a brother having tied a rakhee on his wrist and was gifted as is their tradition which I felt a little uncomfortable about accepting. It just shows the generosity of Mr Verma and his family.
You eat the same as the the family which is grown and produced by them for their family and those like me visiting. I have been stuffed with plenty to eat during all meals, breakfast, lunch and dinner. I have never eaten so much!!! The food is traditional Kumoni food which is a nice experience and tasty. At times a little spicy but then it is all part of the experience!!
During my stay I went to the local school to teach, helped paint a nursery school recently opened and generally with cooking and carrying iron rods for the current construction project. I have never dones such things before so was great. The children at school are cheeky and keen to learn.
The beauty of this place is undescribable. There are number of layers which makes ROSE beautiful. Its physical beauty. It is amazingly green, with flowers, butterflies and birds. When did I last hear so many birds I cannot remember. It is beautiful because of its simple and humble lifestyle. It is beautiful because everyone is so friendly, kind and grateful for you being in their community and your help. I have truely been touched and humbled by the beauty of Kanda and its people.See More
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I spent about two weeks in Kanda and loved every minute of it. Mr Verma and his family are very friendly, I felt immediately at home after arrival. The food was locally grown and organic, cooked to perfect Kumaon taste by the lovely daughter in law and Mrs Verma. People in Kanda live a very self sufficient life style which I think will be the trend for the future. Mr Verma seemd to …be very eco minded and also a very keen gardener, which I found very impressive.

During my stay in Kanda, I was involved in teaching in the local school, painting the walls of a classroom for a nursery, helping out with cooking, breaking stones for brick making, playing with the dog and cat and making short trips to the nearby town Bageshwar. Everyday I experienced something new. Locally people are very friendly and welcoming that made me feel even more at home.

On Indepence day we watched the ceremony held by the nursary, kids performed singing, dancing and poetry reading and their talents were very very impressive.

I also had the opportunity to visit a family shrine and learn from the owner different religous and cultural facts.

Overall, the experience I had in Kanda can only be discrided as fantastic and unforgettable. Never before had I been so involved in a cutural so deeply and almost in every aspect of their life. Kanda is definitley the place to be if you want real experience of North India.

By Guimin Ma from England
Email: guiminma@gmail.com

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