KOLKATA, (C.M. Paul) – This is unthinkable for Indian students! Parents may faint at the mere thought. Take an year off after high school, before joining college, to see life outside class rooms and may be help the lesser privileged students in remote and backward area. That is exactly what 25 young people (19 girls and 6 boys) from five countries are doing this year in North Bengal.
Just out of high school and before entering college, these students from U.K., U.S.A., Australia, Canada and New Zealand will pan out in groups of two to remote areas of Darjeeling and Kalimpong districts in the Himalayan foothills.
The young people, who arrived in Kolkata on Saturday (11 Feb), are volunteers as part of a program run by Lattitude Global Volunteering, an international youth development charity.
They would also visit six Tibetan Buddhist monasteries in the area and teach monks English. Prior to embarking on this mission, the volunteer ambassadors had special training in their home countries.
Besides, “teaching children English language and coaching them in general studies, these young people belonging to The Lattitude Gap Programme of International Volunteers will teach dance, music or sport to the people of the places they will work for five months,” says Lattitude Global Volunteering’s country head Mr Manoj Mathew coordinating their orientation programme in Kolkata.
Explaining the gap experience, Mr Mathew adds, “ Parents abroad are taking this as a mind-opener. Unlike students here in India who spend their holiday between school-end and beginning of college holidaying and having fun, these youngsters have taken a good cause and broken stereotypes.”
The group is staying at the Young Women’s Christian Association hostel on Middleton Row for a few day’s of inculturation and orientation.