Why did you choose DiA? Reflections from a former India volunteer

With applications for DiA’s 2-month Indian Summer placements closing on Friday 2 May, 2012 volunteer Jenny Frydrych talked to Blog Editor Louisa Jones about her experiences abroad and how they have helped her break into the International Development Sector.

 

Jenny (far right) at Deep Griha Society's Melava+ event in August 2012. Photo courtesy Jenny Frydrych.

Jenny (far right) at Deep Griha Society’s Melava+ event in August 2012. Photo courtesy Jenny Frydrych.

What educational, work or volunteering experience did you have when you applied for a DiA placement?

I had volunteered in Romania, Chile and Rwanda for a couple of weeks whilst I was at secondary school, but I didn’t have the same level of responsibility and autonomy at those placements as I had at my placement with DiA.

Why did you want to volunteer in India?

I wanted to learn more about Indian culture and people’s attitudes towards HIV.

What were you looking for in a placement and why did you choose DiA?

I chose to volunteer with DiA because I knew they had a good reputation for placing people in interesting grassroots organisations.

Which of DiA’s partner organisations were you placed with and what did you do there?

I was placed at Deep Griha Society in Pune, Maharashtra. DGS is an independent NGO managed by Dr Neela Onawale, which provides a whole range of services to assist Pune’s marginalised communities. I spent most of my time working on DGS’s ‘Wake Up Pune’ HIV awareness campaign, organising and managing events across the city.

How did you feel about the level of support you received before and during your placement?

I thought that the preparation session in London run by the DiA team was great. It helped me to manage my expectations of how much I could achieve whilst on my placement.

What was your most memorable experience of volunteering in India?

Organising and managing the annual Melava+ HIV matrimonial event was definitely the most memorable part of my 2-month placement. As a team of volunteers we had spent more than a month planning and organising the event, and more than 150 people attended!

How did volunteering with DiA change your outlook on the world? Did it help you develop any new skills and abilities?

My placement with DiA gave me the unique opportunity to see the role and impact of local charities on local communities – DGS may not have as wide an impact as Save the Children or other giant global charities, but this doesn’t make it any less important or impactful locally in Pune.

What are you doing now? How has your experience in India influenced your career?

After returning from India, I studied for an MSc in Development Studies at SOAS in London. I am now working in a research position in the GSMA Mobile for Development team. Most of my research revolves around the impact of mobile technology on access to financial services in African communities. I had an inkling before I did my placement in India that I wanted a career in international development, and my volunteer placement solidified this for me.

Do you have any words of advice for our Summer 2014 volunteers?

See your placement as a great learning opportunity, ask lots of questions and talk to lots of people!


The views expressed in this article are those of the author and do not necessarily represent the views of Development in Action.

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