About India

Kolkata (formerly Calcutta) is the capital of the Indian state of West Bengal. It is located in eastern India on the east bank of the River Hooghly. The city has a population of almost 5 million, with an extended metropolitan population of over 14 million, making it the third-largest urban agglomeration and the fourth-largest city in India.

There is a one month minimum set for the program. The program starts on the first of the month so you will need to arrive in Kolkata before this date. You will be placed where you are most needed at the time. You will have the opportunity to look at the available options during the training program and make a final decision in consultation with our partner organization. Due to the nature of the situation, projects will start and end at different times so there can be no specific guidelines as to what project you will work in until you arrive. An orientation and training will take place upon arrival and you will be placed according to the current needs and requirements, with consideration of your skills and background.

The types of programs you could be involved with include:

  • Teaching
  • Working with disabled children and adults
  • Taking care of the elderly
  • Women's development projects
  • Caring for the sick
  • Office work

Please visit the GVN site for more information about the program.

Recent India Journals:

Easter in China

 Posted by Deborah Ash at 1:41 am  India  Comments Off on Easter in China
Apr 022010

I doubt they celebrate Easter in China. Easter is about resurrection and the hope and belief of eternal life in Christian faith. Different cultures, different climates, different foods, different etiquette, different mannerisms, you name it and traveling the world one will certainly experience an array of ups and downs; happy and sad times; miraculous and miserable times. This tour with GVN is much longer than my first. In India I was there 5 weeks and was just starting to get the hang of things so I didn’t want to leave.  I finally got used to the cultural shock that bamboozled me the first day. I left the Western Hemisphere and moved back to India and spend the last 90 days there. What a difference time makes in adjusting to another world. Here in China with months to work it all out I know it will be different. I may come back every 6 months since I have to leave India every 180 days and I believe I would be welcomed to come and go as I please as they need English in a serious way around here. I’ m teaching kindergarten which suits me fine. As I study English as a Foreign Language this is good experience for me to get through my studies. So, as a volunteer in a foreign country many many feelings come up. Many trials and tribulations in language barriers arise. The food and water can be an issue. There are so many changes and transitions that need to be made that it can become overwhelming. I’ve learned I can fight it or surrender to it. Surrender is much easier on the entire system while the ego might get bruised; it’s the best route to go. This week I wrote a poem and with Easter in [click here to read more]

Volunteering in a world you are unfamiliar with…

 Posted by Deborah Ash at 4:03 pm  India  Comments Off on Volunteering in a world you are unfamiliar with…
Mar 302010

There comes a time when you must stand alone. You must feel confident enough within yourself to follow your own dreams. You must be willing to make sacrifices. You must be capable of changing and rearranging your priorities so that your final goal can be achieved. Sometimes, familiarity and comfort need to be challenged. There are times when you must take a few extra chances and create your own realities. Be strong enough to at least try to make your life better. Be confident enough that you won’t settle for a compromise just to get by. Appreciate yourself by allowing yourself the opportunities to grow, develop, and find your true sense of purpose in this life. Don’t stand in someone else’s shadow when it’s your sunlight that should lead the way.


 Posted by Deborah Ash at 8:44 pm  India  Comments Off on China
Mar 152010

Arriving in China after India feels like I’m in the western world again. The city of Yantai is clean, the roads are organized, the buildings are modern and the sea is beautiful. I have an airplane full of emotions running through me. I have been in USA, India, USA, India, Thailand and now China in less than 6 months. I wanted to travel the world and help bring value to people and did not realize the value this experience would give me. I am not the same person I was a year ago. I am not the same person I was 90 days ago. I still have much to let go of and all this traveling is certainly one way of getting out of any comfort zone and letting go of old habits, thoughts, speech, body language, etc. I am waiting for someone to tell me what to do! It’s cold and the heat doesn’t provide enough heat to keep my fingers from tingling. The campus is huge. 8,000 students, a gym, pool, more than enough walking space. This campus is out in the middle of nowhere. I have a nice apartment with kitchen, living room, bedroom, bath, washer, TV, computer. All of which are Chinese so I haven’t a clue how to read any instructions… here we go again! I know nothing and I’m here to teach English. What a wonderfully strange world I am living in. Many sites are blocked here so I’m not sure if this will hit the net or not.  Anyway, tomorrow I start kindergarten class! I know the volunteers from India last August can appreciate my apprehension to this. 😉


 Posted by Deborah Ash at 7:52 pm  India  Comments Off on Delayed
Feb 282010

My booking agent booked my flight but did not give the airline my ticket number and the airline cancelled my ticket. After six hours of trying to get things worked out I’m still in India waiting for the booking agent to get back to me. I’m so disappointed. I will reach China sooner or later.  Stay tuned…

China here I come…

 Posted by Deborah Ash at 3:43 am  India  Comments Off on China here I come…
Feb 162010

Life is but a dream….as the song goes. I never thought in all my life that my dream of traveling the world and helping people would come true but it has. In August last year I arrived in India. The world on the Eastern Hemisphere changed my life. I left the Western Hemisphere and moved to Kolkata, India. I’ve been here 60 some odd days and I am preparing for China. I started taking an online course Teaching English as a Foreign Language and I have already started using what I have learned in India. I am tutoring a few people in English. When I arrive in China I will be volunteering at a school for four months in Yantai, Shandong, China teaching English. This is truly a gift from God above to make such a glorious door open for me. Life on this side of the world is so different. I look forward to seeing what China has to offer. My body is still adjusting to all the different elements in India and I get to start all over again in China. What a challenge! I’m up for it. I can do just about anything with a little help from my friends. The love and support; the prayers and good wishes makes me know that I am not alone even though I may stand alone at times. Technology is great! I get to Skype with family and friends and see them every day so that I can share my joys and hardships. We laugh and cry. Every day is an adventure I have no idea how it will turn out. One thing I do know is that I have changed. My heart is open again and I am not afraid. Even though I don’t know the languages yet I [click here to read more]

Last week

 Posted by Saga Ekberg at 12:09 am  India  Comments Off on Last week
Dec 032009

I cant believe im going on to the last week of volunteering, im so astonished on how quickly time goes bye… I havent had a chance to write much because I was sick all last week (which let me tell you, wasnt fun at all, I just wanted to be back home being taken care of) but now Im feeling much better and feeling “fit for fight” again! We went to Digha last weekend, which is a little village 4 hours away from Kolkata, it was really nice to get out of the city and just relax att the beach. It was peculiar thought because at the beach people kept on coming up to us wanting to get their picture taken with us…it was so wierd but really funny at the same time, at least when I look back at it now. I must say that I havent been very good at going and visiting places while I have been here, I did go to the Academy of Art one afternoon but when I got there they told me it was closed and I kind of just gave up and went back to the Guest House… Anyway, I have decided that I have to go to Victoria Memorial before leaving Kolkata because I have a feeling that I will regret it if I dont. It feels really good to be back at the school, I realised how much I have missed the kids and Anu, the principal, is such a sweetheart. Mostly I just help out Mousumi writing and drawing things for the kids and helping them with their tasks (which is pretty funny because their english is very basic and nothing else can be said about my hindi) but in some way I feel a bound to them anyway…its [click here to read more]

The time is coming….

 Posted by Deborah Ash at 3:20 pm  India  Comments Off on The time is coming….
Dec 022009

December 11th I close on my home and fly out that evening arriving in Kolkata on December 13th. I am set up at a guest house with a private room until I find an apartment. I have met some lovely people online that have helped me more than I can ever thank. I’m working on the banking situation. India requires more background checks than the USA to open an account. I opened an account in the New York Branch but it appears I have to do all the paperwork again in India. Once I arrive, I will meet Susan a volunteer that arrived the day I left. She will be finishing up her time. It will be nice to see how life has treated her these past few months. I’m taking an online course to Teach English as a Foreign Language. This is a four part course. The fist class gives me ‘assistant teacher’ title, the 2nd “teacher” the 3rd is for business men and women and the 4th class give me the title “Master Teacher” This organization can arrange for me to travel the world teaching English and get paid for it. They also have a bartering system where the host would fly me out, put me up in a room and feed me. There would be no pay, but it won’t cost me anything. I am super excited about the possibilities. I only need the 1st two classes to teach in India. If I can obtain a working visa then I will be set for the time being. GVN has been instrumental  in the lifestyle changes that are occurring in my life and I am most grateful to have found such an organization that helps not only people but animals and the planet. I’ll update once I return [click here to read more]

Going back to India

 Posted by Deborah Ash at 8:08 am  India  Comments Off on Going back to India
Nov 182009

My trip to India in August changed my life. I sold my condo and I”m moving back to Kolkata. A huge leap of faith. All I know is I want to continue to help the people of India improve their lives and bring smiles to their faces. I am also going to China March – June 2010 to teach English. I am truly blessed by having found GVN. This is a great NPO and I recommend them to everyone I talk to. More to come…

2nd week in Kolkata

 Posted by Saga Ekberg at 7:54 pm  India  Comments Off on 2nd week in Kolkata
Nov 142009

So I ended up choosing the first slum school we visited last week and so far im happy with my choice. The teachers are really sweet(some are a bit intimidating to start with but after a while you realise that they dont mean any harm)and the children are adorable, it is however a bit hard with the youngest ones just because they dont really speak or understand any english but I think it will get easier with time. Its funny how different everything is here and how some things that are obvious to the people here just make me stop and wonder what the hell is going on but I thats just a part of experiencing a new culture. Im really looking forward to the next couple of weeks, time seems to go past so fast and still I seem to have done so much! Although im having a great time im looking forward to leaving to Jaipur(on the 16 dec.)were im meeting my mother and spending a month in the south of India, it will be intresting too see how different it is… After that my plan is to keep on travelling and going to Thailand and Japan so im trying to figure out where I want to go in Thailand and what to do there… anyway, im just really exited and it feels good to be able to be so flexible and just kind of take everything as it comes and not have any bigger worries. On Tuesday im going with one of the teachers and two of the other volunteers to her mothers shop to see sarees and some other things that she sells, I think it will be nice to spend some time with her outside the school and kind of experience each other in a [click here to read more]


 Posted by Saga Ekberg at 11:10 pm  India  Comments Off on Kolkata
Nov 022009

The trip to Kolkata went very well, no problems with the luggage, the flight times and Vishal was there to pick me up in Kolkata. It still feels so unreal to be here but it feels so good! The guest house is totally ok and the people are very friendly although its hard to undertand what they really mean, it feels like you get both a yes and a no to the same question… The best way to describe Kolkata would probably be by saying that its an organised kaos, the traffic is crazy, there is people everywhere and there is no such thing as silence but its absolutely amazing! Im loving the weather (I knew I would because I love heat) and have had no problems with mosquitos or any other bugs. Today we have visited 2 schools, one of them was a slum school and to get out of the slum we had to pass over the train trails and of course a train comes along just as we have passed the trail, I swear I stood about 5 cm from the train! The other volunteers are great, really nice people and Vishal is such a nice guy. There is probably loads more I could write but its hard to remember everything and trying to explain it the right way…There is just so much to take in! Looking forward to tomorrow when we will be visiting 2 more schools and making our choices, it will be so nice to get started with the volunteer work. Ill try to write at least once a week telling a bit about everything Ive experienced and so on but I cant promise anything…

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