In a few days I’ll be in India, beginning in-country training for my International Citizen Service placement with Restless Development. This time last year, while searching for a job in the third sector, I could only have hoped that an opportunity like ICS would come along.
I have always been interested in international development and its surrounding issues, and have volunteered and worked for charities for quite some time, but until ICS I haven’t been able to focus on development. Three months on-the-ground work will be invaluable experience for all of us involved with the programme, as well as increasing our confidence and knowledge of the development field.
This will be the first time that Restless Development has worked in the state of Odisha, in the east of India. This project is a great opportunity to get under the skin of a local community, meet new people and learn about another country and the problems it faces. Hopefully we’ll be able to make an impact during our time there, and pave the way for future volunteers to continue our work.
During my time over there, I will be acting as a leader for the volunteers I’m living and working with. This is a wide-ranging role incorporating project management and ongoing pastoral support as the group comes together. Although I have managed projects for charities in the past, this project, with its in-at-the-deep-end aspect, will definitely be a challenge. A new culture, new and as-yet-unknown tasks, new people, challenging day-to-day lifestyle, and the pang of homesickness will no doubt create heightened emotions in all of us.
But they’ll also give us life-long friendships, with our fellow volunteers and those of different cultures, amazing experiences to have and stories to tell, and the knowledge that we can thrive and help bring about change in any situation.
Best of luck to everyone else involved in ICS!