What is Kerala Volunteer?
Kerala Volunteer is a currently-developing volunteer program that pairs volunteer English teachers with the R.R.U.P. School in Kerala, India. We’re working toward building a volunteer program that not only benefits the children, but also creates a unique and authentic experience in rural India for all volunteers.
What does a volunteer do?
- The primary volunteer position at the school is for English teachers.
- Typically, you will teach three, 45 minute classes per day, (one class for each grade, each day,) Monday-Friday. School begins at 10 am and ends at 4 pm, with a break mid-day for lunch. Each class is between 10 and 30 students. Occasionally you may be asked the help the other teachers with various projects, but overall, you will have plenty of free time and time to prepare your lessons. Kerala Volunteer support staff will assist you with lesson planning and ideas for teaching upon selection.
The ideal volunteer will:
- be a native English speaker
- have experience working with elementary/middle school students and/or teaching, (preferably English as a second language.)
- be able to easily adapt to life in a country often much different from home
- be able to serve a 3 month time commitment
- be energetic, enthusiastic, and love teaching children
How long will I volunteer?
We ask that volunteers commit to a stay of one to three months so as not to disrupt the students with a new teacher coming and going every week or two. Special considerations will be made for candidates that are a good fit in every regard except the amount of time they can commit to staying.
Where will I live?
Your accommodation will be in a house next door to the school, complete with your own private bedroom, bathroom, computer, and Wi-Fi, as well as a local village woman to cook, clean, and assist in daily living. It is a very simple, but safe and efficient living quarters.
Can I bring my family?
Families with children between 8 and 18 years of age are welcome to volunteer as a family. Children learn a tremendous amount, (especially regarding a second language,) from other children, so we extend the invitation for families with children of the appropriate age to join in our efforts.
How much will this cost?
Unlike many other volunteer programs that charge an arm and a leg on top of work you’re already doing for free, Kerala Volunteer does not charge volunteers any fees, (no application fee, housing fees, etc.)
The following are provided, free of charge, to all volunteers:
- Application processing
- Support and guidance from volunteers who have visited the school in the past
- Housing next door to the school
- Basic supplies for lesson planning/teaching, (chalk, chalkboards, Crayons, paper, pens/pencils, balls/outdoor equipment for outside activities with the students, etc.)
Volunteers will cover living expenses including:
- Food and food preparation (three meals will be home-cooked, daily by a local village woman in your house)
- Volunteers are responsible for keeping their own water and snacks on hand in the house- whether that means buying them from a shop nearby or boiling water from the tap to drink.
- Airfare and pickup and drop-off from the train station and/or airport upon arrival and exit
- Any leisure travel or activities on the weekend
- Travel insurance covering health and/or possessions, (World Nomads is a reputable provider.)
- Toiletries, snacks and personal items
The estimated daily living expense is about $7/day/person, plus personal items, transport to and from the school, airfare, visa, and leisure travel/activities on the weekends, which the volunteer can pay for directly, on their own.
What teaching materials will be provided?
The school has all the basic materials- blackboards, pens, pencils, papers, chalk boards, colors, etc. and there is a volunteer resource box with markers, dry erase boards, construction paper, scissors, and some wonderful resource books for helping plan games, activities, and teaching English as a second language, but If you require any additional materials, you should try and bring them with you. Teaching at a low income school will require getting creative with your lessons, but we are here to give you ideas and guide you.
Will I need a visa?
Volunteers will be required to obtain the appropriate visa. We are here to help answer any questions you may have regarding obtaining your visa.
What is the weather like?
March is the hottest month in Kerala with an average temperature of 84°F (29°C) and the coldest is June at 81°F (27°C) with the most daily sunshine hours at 9 in February. The wettest month is June with an average of 341mm of rain.
What should I wear?
India is a conservative country, but the south is also hot and humid. This requires some smart packing: Women should be covered past the knees and to the elbows in loose-fitting clothing- breathable linen/cotton material is encourage. Feel free to dress in local Indian attire as well, (saris, salwar kameezes, etc.) Men should plan to teach in loose-fitting pants and shirt outfits, but can also wear local attire like the mundu. Much of this can be purchased inexpensively at any marketplace throughout India.
Is it safe? Even for women traveling alone?
Volunteers are provided with a locking, safe and secure house just steps away from the school, in the sleepy little village of Ullannur. There are even a local village man and woman close by to assist volunteers with daily living and ensure that they feel secure. R.R.U.P. has had single, female volunteers before and has never had an issue with safety. However, as when traveling anywhere, (even around your own homeland!) it’s best to use common sense and good judgement- lock your doors when you leave the house, keep your valuables put away, and don’t wander alone in unknown territory after dark.
What else is there to do in Kerala?
Kerala is a one of the top tourist destinations in all of India, and offers a plethora of beautiful scenery, activities, and excursions for volunteers to enjoy on the weekends or before or after their volunteer service. From beautiful cruises on the backwaters to spiritual temples, to breathtaking tea plantations and beaches, Kerala has something for everyone.
What is the food like?
Food throughout India varies, but in Kerala, expect lots of flavor and spices, with many dishes including boiled rice or cassava, a few vegetables, and chicken or a fish curry. Dishes are often spicy, and some common ingredients and spices used are coconut, cardamom, mustard seed, and black pepper. If you have dietary restrictions or are a vegetarian, please let us know beforehand and we will try our best to accommodate.
Sounds great! What now?
VOLUNTEER and get ready for one of the best experiences of your life.