Alba Mullen Team Thoughtshop - Suas VP 2017

This summer, I set off for Kolkata, India with a group of 11 other strangers who, in the space of two short months, I'd come to call family <3
After nearly two days travelling, we arrived in Kolkata, and were met with the most colourful, bustling and H O T welcome imaginable...
always time for bubbles

My team and I were working with "The Thoughtshop Foundation" - a non-profit social communications organisations dedicated to dealing with social issues, like gender inequality and child abuse, with the aim to educate, motivate and initiate change.

our youth mentors - some of the most inspiring people i have ever had the privilege of knowing

We worked in various different Youth Resource Cells, located in slum areas of the city, who were founded and run by Youth Mentors and Fellows; community members trained by Thoughtshop to educate the adolescents of their area in the issues that affected them daily, like child labour and their basic human rights.

We travelled to these YRCs, located all around the city, teaching English to both the Youth Mentors - who were our ages and older - and the adolescents that attended the YRCs.
we met some of the most amazing and inspiring people who taught us as much, if not more, than we taught them.

Days were spent the usual way; navigating the daily Mosh Pits that are Indian public transport..

at least we blended in with the locals

My teaching partner and I were assigned YRCs, one urban and one rural. Our urban YRC, Roshni, was located in the Muslim area of the city and had a particular focus on gender equality and womens' rights. It was run by an all-female team of youth mentors who still managed to smile, regardless of the awful inequality and abuse they faced.

We tried to give all our English language lessons a social issues slant, incorporating Thoughtshops' values and mission statement; I am smart. I am kind. I have value. I have power.
We also realised that kids in India love selfies just as much as kids in Ireland...
as in, a LOT!
our rural placement, Swapno, was located in the very beautiful and very remote sundarban region

We travelled four hours by train once every few weeks to visit Swapno and teach the several different clusters, staying in the Youth Mentors' home and experience, what I really think to be, the real India (or a Bush-Tucker trial - eating leaves and drinking freshly-milked goats milk included).

At least the trains were spacious!!!
sunsets made up for it, though.
While Swapno did present us with some physical challenges, the kids, mentors and communities that we meet, certainly made up for it.
Some of the cutest and sweetest kids I had ever met
the food was also some of the best i have ever tasted. in my life. ever.
but it wasn't all work

We had our weekends off to spend as we may - whether that be travelling to different cities, visiting the one of the other Suas groups in the Sundarbans, or making ourselves know at the local nightclub..

oh look - more trains :))

After our placement, we were given the opportunity to travel for ten days, around India, unsupervised...

don't know who thought that would be a good idea!
We undertook and extremely adventurous and extensive travel plan, covering the breath of the North, seeing as many different landscapes and sites as ten days would possibly allow.
If we weren't close before, we were certainly close after!

So, if you're looking for something to do next summer, do this. Apply for the Suas VP programme. Even if you are terrified at even the thought of teaching children or don't see yourself as born teacher, believe me - after eight weeks in India, you will...

who couldn't love a face like this?!

This time last year, I didn't think that I would be spending my summer in India. I didn't think I would be making friends for life. I didn't think I would be meeting the world's most inspiring people. I didn't think I would be making a change. Not just in the lives of others, but in my own life.

yo MTV, welcome to my crib

So, go to India, make some memories, make some friends, make a change. And do some rooftop Yoga, its good for the soul.

Team Thoughtshop 2017, over and out x

Applications for Volunteer Programme 2018 Are Now Open

Apply Now - https://www.suas.ie/suas-volunteer-programme

Created By
Alba Mullen


Photo credits to Suas, Thoughtshop Foundation and all me TTSF hunnies, love ya x 

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