Frequently Asked Questions
What do volunteers do during their time at Shanti Bhavan?
The primary need for volunteers at Shanti Bhavan is to serve as classroom teachers, and the large majority of time that volunteers spend on campus will be spent in an academic role, either teaching or tutoring. In addition to their teaching responsibilities, volunteers run extracurricular activities (such as debate, public speaking, and leadership club) for the students. Volunteers will also assist in a daily rotation of duties like supervising physical education activities and serving as classroom monitors during homework time. While on campus, volunteers are also asked to assist the On-Site Administrators with tasks crucial to the success of the school as a whole, ranging from social media management to sponsorship packet development.
Can I volunteer for less than four weeks?
We are not able to accept volunteers who cannot commit to a minimum of four weeks on campus during the fall or spring term. Summer volunteers must commit to at least six weeks on campus.
We ask that volunteers are on campus for a four week minimum since our primary concern is the children’s education. New volunteers must quickly transition to the school curriculum, learn the names of their students, and develop effective lesson plans. Constant turnover of volunteer teachers can disrupt the children’s education, and we need to minimize the potential for lost class time during this transition period for volunteers.
What are the dates of Shanti Bhavan’s academic year?
The academic calendar starts in early June and extends through mid-April. There is a one week break in early September, a three week break from mid-December through early January, and a summer break from mid-April through the end of May.
Summer break runs from mid-April through the end of May. The school will be closed during this break and our winter break, and volunteers will not be permitted to stay on campus.
What qualifications do I need to volunteer?
There are no mandatory qualifications to volunteer with Shanti Bhavan, and the school accepts volunteers from a wide variety of educational and professional backgrounds. We do have a preference for applicants with previous experience working with children, ideally in an educational capacity, and a demonstrated understanding and commitment to the mission of the school. We also value experience working alongside and engaging with other cultures and/or past experience volunteering.
What language do I need to speak in order to volunteer?
Shanti Bhavan is an English medium school, so all classes take place in English. Volunteers should be fluent in speaking, reading, and writing English. Please make sure to submit all application materials in English, including recommendation letters.
What kinds of subjects do volunteers teach?
At the primary level, volunteers are usually responsible for teaching Social studies, Science, Computers, General knowledge and English. At the middle school level, they are often asked to teach History, Civics and Geography. At the high school level, they are responsible for Economics, English literature and English language. The classes available for volunteers to teach can vary depending on the active roster of full-time teachers.
Are there other positions available?
Yes! Please see our Careers page for information about additional opportunities to support Shanti Bhavan.
How far in advance should I apply to volunteer?
What is the cost of volunteering?
There is no cost for volunteering. Shanti Bhavan provides volunteers with free on-campus accommodation and meals. The school also covers transportation from the airport to campus. Any weekend travel and the cost of driving back to the airport at departure are expected to be covered by the volunteers. Flights to and from India are also paid for by the volunteer.
What curriculum does Shanti Bhavan use?
The school is accredited by the Council for the Indian School Certificate Examination (CISCE) in New Delhi. It is one of the most prestigious curriculums taught in India. Students take national exams in 10th and 12th grade and mock national exams in 9th and 11th grade.
When will I know what I’m teaching?
Volunteers usually receive an email with what they are tentatively scheduled to teach one week before arriving on campus. Flexibility is needed as this can be subject to change during your time on campus.
What training will I receive to be the best teacher I can be?
Accepted volunteers will be asked to complete a series of online training modules followed by two online training sessions led by qualified staff members. The trainings include practical information about teaching as well as details about life at the school. Volunteers will also receive on the ground trainings from the Academic Administrator and the organization’s On-site Administrators, adding additional context about life on campus and providing specifics regarding teaching at Shanti Bhavan.
Who should I ask to write my recommendation letter?
Ideally, we would like to receive a letter from someone who can speak to the skills and abilities that would make you an effective volunteer. A supervisor would be the best option, but you are welcome to request a letter from anyone who might be able to highlight experiences you’ve had teaching, volunteering, or working with children.
How long do most volunteers stay on campus?
Volunteers typically stay on campus between one to three months.
At what time of the year does the school have the most need for volunteers?
While there is always a need for volunteers on campus, we tend to receive more applications for our Summer term (June – August) than for our Fall term (September – December) or Spring term (January – April). Because we tend to have a higher need for volunteers during these two time periods, we recommend that volunteers with flexible availability apply for the second two terms.
Can I volunteer with my spouse/partner?
You can certainly volunteer with your partner, but we do ask for you to submit separate applications so that that Volunteer Services team can assess you each individually. Please make sure to note in the application that you are applying to volunteer together.
Can I bring my children with me when I volunteer?
Unfortunately, Shanti Bhavan is not equipped to offer childcare services for volunteers, and the school does not have capacity on campus to host non-volunteering guests for a substantial period of time. That being said, if your child is at least eighteen years old, you are welcome to apply to volunteer together, but we do ask for you to submit separate applications so that that Volunteer Services team can assess you each individually. Please make sure to note in the application that you are applying to volunteer together.
Is there an age range/limit for volunteers?
Shanti Bhavan volunteers must be at least eighteen years old.
Yes, volunteers will be expected to provide proof of vaccination before arriving on campus. There may be a temporary, on-campus quarantine required upon arrival. Volunteers also may be restricted from leaving campus during their tenure. Additionally, there may be a requirement to produce a negative RT-PCR report upon arrival in India. It is important for volunteers to know that COVID policies may change from month to month depending on the state of the pandemic.
How do I start the application process?
Visit our Volunteer Application page to complete the online application. Please note that you will need to upload a resume/CV into the application before submitting. After you submit, our Volunteer Services team will review your application materials and contact you to let you know whether or not you will be offered an interview.
I won’t be able to volunteer, but I’d still like to be involved with the school. What can I do?
Shanti Bhavan is deeply appreciative of any support that you can provide the school. Some of the best ways to contribute include:
- Donate to Shanti Bhavan Children’s Project
- Share the Daughters of Destiny documentary with your friends and family
- Sponsor a student at the school
- Help Shanti Bhavan build its second school
- Support Shanti Bhavan by listing the school your charitable organization through Amazon Smile
- Read and recommend the book The Elephant Chaser’s Daughter – written by our former student Shilpa Raj – to your friends and family
- Follow and share the progress of our students by following us on social media: facebook at SBChildren, on instagram @shanti_bhavan and on twitter @shantibhavan