To give you all a bit of a back story to myself my name is Ethan Donovan and my mother Rachael Donovan moved to India to work with EduCARE in 2011. I have been a part of and known EduCARE for a long time now and watched the organisation develop and grow. But only this year, after I graduated secondary school, did I take a gap year to follow my mother’s footsteps and undertake an internship with EduCARE myself.
I first started my internship in February 2015, where I was the project manager in the Rait centre for sustainable living and worked with another intern on the SWASH (waste management) project. I had just finished high school last year and had no work experience whatsoever. During my time working in EduCARE India and meeting new people from all around the world taught me so much more than if I had stayed in Australia and gone straight to university. I was in Rait until the end of June, then I went to Nepal to teach English for three months.
I had loved my experience so much with EduCARE that I wanted to come back after Nepal to do something different and new. In the beginning of October 2015 I came back and went to the newest centre in Punjab Harike, and was the centre manager there until December. This whole year I have watched EduCARE develop, grow and learn as an organisation and I was honoured to grow with it.
Because EduCARE just loves creating acronyms, I have created my own to share my experience about my 8 months there.
E – Explore
I remember the first few weeks of working with EduCARE, visiting one of the newest centres in Rajasthan, Gajner. I was seeing everything for the first time – interns, work, meetings, culture, etc.
I was like a new baby, thirsting to explore and learn. But like any child I was shy, inexperienced, not confident, etc. My time with EduCARE has allowed me to grow out of these fears by facing them head on. EduCARE gave me the full freedom to explore myself, the culture and so many other things. EduCARE never limited me to explore and learn, and in fact encouraged it for me and every intern.
During my first five months with EduCARE I remember being very lost with myself and what I wanted to do in life. Being a part of EduCARE and surrounded by interns who in turn were also facing the same challenges helped not just me but many other interns on the same path. When I came back and took on more of management role by being the centre manager for the newest centre in Punjab, Harike, I could understand more fully what new interns faced. I found that I was more experienced, more confident in myself, my work and what I was doing. Because EduCARE allowed me to explore my own self, the organisation has helped me so much and has given me the life skills through my own self exploration. Even though I will be leaving soon, these lessons will help me to keep exploring and learning throughout my life.
D – Diversity
EduCARE has interns from all around the world from different backgrounds, languages and cultures which also means many differences in perspectives and opinions. Diversity comes in many different forms from how people have lived and interacted with others, to what each person thinks on global topics. Because of all this diversity with identities, ideas, life styles, and journeys, this has really allowed me to open my mind to so many different viewpoints across the spectrum. From living and working with such a diverse group of people I feel I have become much more open minded and have it has challenged my way of thinking and many perspectives on life. And this is a great thing.
I also got to understand and respect others opinions and then in turn share what I believe. Being with EduCARE and meeting people from all around the world and sharing these differences has helped me better understand myself and what I believe in.
U – Unity
What I enjoyed when being with EduCARE is the unity within the organization, centres and individuals. Working within EduCARE, I’ve found the organization is always looking out for interns to make our experience as enjoyable and safe as possible. During quarterlies, the organisation conducts gender circles for men and women to share their challenges faced here in India.
In both centres I worked in, we developed a strong unity where we would support each other day in and day out with our projects, personal matters, work, etc. Both centres I worked in had a positive atmosphere which was very supportive of each other. Even on an individual level, I have met people that were there for me during my challenging times and supported me through it and allowed me to do the same for them in return. We were always there for each other through thick and thin. EduCARE is one big family, and I will never forget the support I had from the organization, my centres and the individuals I met.
C – Culture
I cannot say that I have seen many other countries and travelled too much of world, but what I can say is that out of all the countries I have visited (which is a few) I have found Indian’s culture the most unique. India as a country is HUGE!!! Just going to another state within India you find a whole new culture and people there, and it is like you are going into a whole new country in itself!!
India’s culture is so complex but yet so simple that it is so hard for some to understand unless you actually look back into India’s history. Even then, the history of India is long and old and it is impossible for almost any outsider that isn’t a part of the culture itself to completely understand its intricacies. What surprised me the most is that many of the locals from the state of Punjab won’t understand the culture and the people of the state of Rajasthan, or vice versa. These states are right next to each other and yet they don’t understand one another completely. This draws your curiosity and you end up falling in love with these unique and bizarre cultures of India.
A – Appreciation
I had never fully appreciated life, and the life I have, until I came to India and worked with the migrant communities (the untouchables) that EduCARE works with. Almost every centre works with one migrant or marginalised group, and it is one the segments of community that is in most need of support. Seeing these communities really touched me and hit me hard in the face.
You see these people living in some of the poorest ways and yet they are sometimes the most happiest and content with their lives. Of course they would wish for better circumstances (better economic opportunities, better education for their children, better health etc) but even with their challenging situation they always keep a positive and optimistic outlook. I’ve found that every time I’ve entered a migrant camp, all over India, the children were always so happy to see us when we came and were so sad when we left. All they wanted to do is play games with us.
But it isn’t just the migrant communities that made me appreciate life more. I also gained such appreciation by just living in India day to day and seeing how the locals live and living among them in the same circumstances, as one of them. Simple living, water shortages, power cuts, bad internet, limited recreational opportunities, challenging transportation is all part of normal Indian daily life. Living this way everyday really made me more appreciative of not just of the opportunities I have been given growing up, but the prospects most of the developed countries have. It really made me question what is important to me and made me less complacent and more appreciative of what I have in life.
R – Responsibility
One of the many things I learnt being with EduCARE is to become more responsible, and not just for myself but for my work and life experiences. For starters this was my first time in the work environment whilst being an adult. I immediately had to learn to take responsibility for myself and my work. Also, EduCARE does not provide daily supervision or management, so I was forced to learn to take responsibility for my own work and time management to ensure that everything got completed on time. Not only that, I am in India and things happen that are unexpected and this happens with almost anything.
This made me take responsibility of situations that didn’t go according to plan, and take ownership of my project and work. By being in India, working, looking after myself and traveling, I really learnt how to become responsible not just for myself, but for others as well. Of course this didn’t happen overnight and at the beginning of the year I struggled. But the first time being with EduCARE really helped me to become more responsible, so that when I came back the second time I was able to take on a more responsible role.
E – Experience
Through all the ins and outs during my time with EduCARE, and living in India, has been one HELL OF AN EXPERIENCE!! I wouldn’t change it for the world.
Working with EduCARE and being in India has taught me so much and helped me to grow more than what I have learnt in any other year of my life!! The lessons, memories, experiences, I have made will forever be with me AND the amazing people I have met along the way.
It saddens me to be leaving India, EduCARE and these amazing people. Each and every one of you has made such an awesome impact on my life in your own way. You will forever be in my heart wherever I go in life and I know the world is a much smaller place by meeting you. So as I am leaving I would like to thank everyone and everything that has come into my path. You have helped me to become the man I am today. Thank you India and THANK YOU EDUCARE!!
A year of quarterlies…..:)
Ethan Donovan – Australia
Harike Centre Manager