After experiencing a Global Hope trip to India in 2016, sports coach and fitness instructor Laura Seddon couldn’t wait to return to the country a year later. Global Hope is the University’s international education programme, which gives staff and students the chance to engage with issues of social justice across the globe. Laura talks about her time volunteering in the South Asian country…
Why did you decide to join the Global Hope project?
I joined the Global Hope Trip to India in 2016 after a last minute callout for staff support, and had an amazing experience. I felt the trip helped my self-confidence and helped me build professional relationships with both Hope staff members organising the trip, members of staff on the trip, and students, as well as the students, staff and sisters in India. The sisters and nuns in India I now class as friends, and we keep in contact daily either via email or WhatsApp. I applied for the 2017 trip as I felt like I would have a lot more to give on the next trip by getting involved at an earlier stage. I helped with the fundraising and organising, and helped students with their lesson plans and preparing for the trip.
What types of tasks/volunteering did you do during the trip?
We delivered a workshop to students that included English communication skills, spelling, punctuation, pronunciation and seminars on English Literature, Sport and History. We taught female college students who were studying undergraduate and postgraduate. We also delivered fun-based games and dance workshops to primary school and special educational needs children.
What was the highlight of your trip?
I couldn't possibly give one. Even walking around Maduari town centre after travelling from 5am Friday morning to still being up drinking coffee within the town centre at 11.30pm Saturday night was a highlight! From delivering a six-hour teaching block each day, even on a Saturday, to playing basketball in the rain - everything was a highlight.
What advice would you give to someone considering a Global Hope project?
Go for it. You have nothing to lose. From a staff point of view, just make sure you meet with the students who are accepted for your project from the start, and build relationships as soon as possible. Helping them with the fundraising and attending all events for the project will help the students to respect you when you help them, and knowing them personally before the project starts will make the experience more enjoyable. From a student point of view, you have a great opportunity ahead of you, it will be hard work to do the fundraising and it’s sometimes hard work trying to meet up and to sort the lesson plans, but you will have full support from the project team leaders and the Global Hope team to help you at every step.
Do you think Global Hope is an opportunity staff and students should take advantage of?
Yes. If both staff and students are willing to put in the hard work it’s worth it. You need to be willing to make all the socials and meetings and do the lesson plans, it’s not as easy as turning up on the day of your flight. It’s not a holiday it’s an experience that will change you as a person, and you realise that the things we consider important here in England are in fact not important at all. It’s an amazing opportunity that we should all support and get involved with.
What's the one thing you will take away from the experience?
When staying on site, we stayed within the convent with the nuns and sisters who run the college, and it was such an experience to live their lifestyle, and to get involved and be accepted by them. The way they welcomed us when they picked us up from the airport, right through to when we left was amazing. One evening after teaching and having food, we sat outside with the nuns and sisters who told us stories of their lives. One nun - Sr Nimarla - told us a story of when she got chased through the jungle by an elephant while on her Zoology PHD course. With everything happening in the world at the moment, it was lovely to sit with people who come from different backgrounds and cultures, and do simple things such as tell stories and play cards, sing and dance. They accept you as a human being they don't judge you on where you are from and what background you have.