The Volunteer Experience at Shanti BhavanAugust 9, 2021
Volunteering at Shanti Bhavan is a one-of-a-kind experience. Volunteers participate in every aspect of campus life, from eating breakfast with the children in the early morning to telling the littlest ones a bedtime story as they settle down to sleep at night. It requires commitment, but those who give their time and energy to Shanti Bhavan are rewarded many times over as they watch the children learn, grow, and thrive.
Volunteers at Shanti Bhavan teach classes, tutor students, and lead extracurricular activities. On a given day, they might instruct English and Chemistry, monitor physical education activities such as soccer or basketball, and assist students with homework. For primary level students, volunteers instruct in social studies, science, computer mechanics, and English. For middle school students, volunteers can teach history, civics, and geography, while high schoolers learn economics and literature.
Volunteer responsibilities aren’t rigidly defined, though. In addition to academics, our volunteers also work with photography, media assistance, and social media management. Volunteers can even help develop sponsorship materials, like videos and biographies of the children. But one of the most vital responsibilities of a volunteer is that of emotional support. Volunteers are role models to the students on campus and often serve as nonjudgmental, sympathetic listeners.
Becoming a Volunteer
Because volunteering at Shanti Bhavan can be demanding, volunteers are carefully selected from a large pool of candidates, and each undertakes special preparation for their new role. After an extensive interview process, volunteer candidates undergo training to help ready themselves for their new responsibilities. The program is inclusive; although a volunteer must either have a Bachelor’s degree or be pursuing one, a background in teaching is not required. Instead, we provide training videos and modules to prepare for the school’s coursework and lifestyle. Further, since Shanti Bhavan’s campus is in rural India, volunteers must ready themselves for the weather, food, and lifestyle of the locals. Many of our volunteers find this a thrilling experience as they adjust to a totally new way of life. Whether it’s adapting to changing curriculums or learning regional dances, volunteers are always well equipped to put the children first.
And the volunteer program is constantly evolving. For example, Shanti Bhavan recently installed Smart Boards in its classrooms. This way, volunteers can work together to make the learning experience as modern and relevant as possible for the students, even halfway around the world.
The Volunteer Experience
The experience and lessons learned at Shanti Bhavan follow our volunteers as they leave campus and pursue their careers. Many former volunteers remember their days at Shanti Bhavan as the most meaningful and impactful of their lives. The relationships built between volunteers and students, on-site faculty, and peers are reciprocal; through teaching and mentorship, a single volunteer can change the lives of many students, but they often find their own lives changed as well. As a result, volunteers tend to return whenever they can to relive the experience with a new set of budding students.