Multiethnic, multilingual, with a rich history and bright future, India is the world’s largest democracy. With a population of 1.2 billion spread over the subcontinent, the diversity of the people and landscapes ensures that no two visitors will have the same experience in this magical and storied country.
Though outwardly an industrialized and fast-developing nation, India’s rapid growth is focused mainly in major metropolitan cities; with nearly three-quarters of the population living in rural areas, very little of this newfound wealth benefits those who live outside urban areas. This disparity is particularly pronounced in the fields of education and healthcare; while both are of world-class standards in India’s cities, Indians living in the countryside are nowhere near as fortunate as their local schools and hospitals are underfunded, understaffed, and in desperate need of assistance.
Palampur, where the Inspire hub is based, is a charming rural hill station in the far northern Indian state of Himachal Pradesh. As an intersection point for many different cultures, Palampur has a strong Tibetan influence and is home to foods ranging from traditional North Indian to pizza to a variety of Chinese/Nepalese street foods. Relatively untouched by Westerners but popular among Indian tourists for its temperate climate, tea gardens, and breathtaking mountain views, Palampur boasts a bustling market but also peaceful gardens and forests to stroll through. Here, you can experience the best of India without the confusion and congestion of the big cities.
Prices for volunteering in India start at £1225 for 2 weeks
As an Inspire volunteer in India you will be at the forefront of addressing education in a sustainable manner by advancing English skills, non-formal education and engaging the enthusiastic children of Northern India. Our partner schools are located in the beautiful Darjeeling and the breath-taking Palampur.
You will be assisting local teachers with finding new ways to engross the students utilising interactive teaching methods, fun and engaging extra-curricular activities and conversational English classes. Our volunteer programmes provide volunteers with a tangible possibility to ensure that you are improving the quality and deliverance of education to a community of rural school children who will benefit enormously from this head start in life.
Teaching in Himalayan villages can be part of a rewarding career break programme and your energy, enthusiasm and effort can give children greater confidence and inspire them to learn new skills.
While overall India has a very good education system, the disparity between urban and rural, rich and poor, is quite stark. Access to quality education comes from private schools that usually have a hefty price tag, and most rural Indians cannot afford the fees to attend such schools. They can try their luck at either government schools or fee-waiving private schools, neither of which can provide the same quality of education as their more prestigious and wealthy counterparts. These schools lack trained teachers, resources, and infrastructure, so any sort of assistance is highly appreciated.
Helping with English is the most important objective at our partner schools. Even though English is not an official language in India, it is the language of business and higher education; the level of English one speaks decides how far one will get education and employment-wise. Palampur, being a rural town where most people speak Hindi or Pahari, is in dire need of English speakers to help students at schools improve their spoken English and give them the opportunity to succeed later on.
As an Inspire volunteer in Palampur, you can help in a variety of ways depending on your qualifications and background. Our partner schools cater to mostly poor students from marginalized castes and tribes, so your work will be of immense help to these children. You can teach English classes to students from grades 1-10 at our partner schools, with an emphasis on conversational English and interactive activities/lessons.
Additionally, you can do teacher training; most teachers are university graduates, but still need plenty of help with classroom management techniques, fostering critical thinking in their students, and general teaching strategies. Your teaching does not have to be limited to English; as part of our healthcare initiative in Palampur, we are also looking to implement a health/nutrition/sanitation education program at our partner schools.
An average day will last from 9:30 am-3pm, and you will move around the different grades and classes every hour so that you can maximize your impact. Lessons generally conclude around 2pm, and afterwards you can run activities for students or have teacher training sessions.
Thanks to its location and geography, there is plenty to do in and around Palampur to satisfy anyone. In Palampur itself, one can take a tour of the tea factory, practice haggling at the street market, or simply enjoy a cup of chai with a view at the Neugal Café.
For those looking for a cultural experience, the city of Dharamsala, home of the Tibetan government-in-exile (and the Dalai Lama) boasts a multitude of majestic temples, craft markets selling Tibetan handicraft and an eclectic range of delicious restaurants. Dharamsala is only an hour away by taxi or bus, and can thus be a day trip or a weekend jaunt.
For those looking for thrills, the world-famous paragliding site of Bir-Billing is an hour from Palampur going the opposite way from Dharamsala. One can go on a tandem paragliding course in the shadow of the Dhauladhars, and then come down from the adrenaline rush at one of the many cafés lining Bir’s tiny but lively main street. Many treks also begin here in Bir.
If you’re looking for all of the above, the famous backpacker mecca of Manali is a 6 hour bus ride away. Here, you can experience adventure (rafting, trekking, mountain biking), experience the hippie lifestyle at one of the alternative communes around the city, or try out the buzzing nightlife scene.
Our India staff brings plenty of experience to the table and will provide 24/7 support during your time here. Our local team is headed by Brian, our Inspire program manager. Having traveled extensively throughout Europe, Asia, and Africa since age 13, Brian spent the years immediately following his graduation from Boston College living and working in a remote village in Namibia. He joined Inspire in early 2016 and arrived in India after spending his first two months in Cambodia. Our partnerships director is Colonel Ravi Sharma, a retired and decorated Indian Army officer who has lived in Palampur for his entire life. In addition to working with Inspire, Colonel Sharma spends much of his free time assisting at the local leprosy home.
Prices for volunteering in India start at £1225 for 2 weeks