After years of teaching and volunteering at the refugee centre in my hometown, and then a year as exchange student in India after high school, I felt like the internship at AID India would be a perfect opportunity to combine my experiences and skills in a work setting. In my studies at the IDS (International Development Studies) and WIMES (World Islamic and Middle East Studies) departments at McGill, I have loved learning more about the development strategies that shape the world, but I yearned for more knowledge surrounding the on-the-ground realities of development work and the day-to-day functioning of an NGO.
AID India is a multi-faceted aid organization which seeks to better the lives of both the rural and urban poor across India. I worked in the AID India office in Chennai, Tamil Nadu, where the agency’s educational development work is based. AID India develops curriculum and materials for schools all over India. They administrate two schools in rural areas near Chennai, and many learning centres throughout the metropolitan area and surrounding region.
My duties at the NGO were in this educational development sector. Along with another intern from McGill, I worked on developing English language learning materials, specifically audiovisual comprehension modules, which we then tested with students at the various schools and centres run by AID. We then went on to create many more learning materials, learning and reading incentive programs, and English language games. We also led class sessions, and even set up and organized a school library.
My favourite project was definitely the “Eureka News” videos we created with the students during the last weeks of our internship. We would make the long trip several times a week to the AID-run Eureka Schools outside of Chennai, where we worked closely with the students and collaborated with the teachers in preparing, filming, and editing the videos. The students worked diligently at memorizing the scripts, and worked patiently and cooperatively with us in filming the videos. It was great to see their excitement at the final product, and it is rewarding to know that the schools will be able to continue to use these videos to help the children with English comprehension and testing, and that it was all done with the involvement of the students themselves. What was more, it was such a joy and privilege to be able to form such a close bond and relationship with the students over the course of the past few months, and I will forever cherish the time we had working with each other.
I also would like to mention my passionate colleagues and supervisors who I worked with at AID India. These people work tirelessly day in and out to effect real change in their country, and I have learned so much about dedication and determination from them. They have truly inspired me to continue to work for causes that I believe in, no matter what field it be in, and to work hard and push through the inevitable obstacles that will come my way.
This internship has also inspired me to continue to push myself out of my comfort zone, and I hope very much to be able to someday have the honour to work in the development sector overseas. It was an invaluable experience to have been able to work in a development NGO in person, rather than just learning in class about what types of things these organizations may do.
I would furthermore like to note that under the supervision of Professor Subho Basu of the McGill History Department, I will be doing a research project for course credits on the topic of the English language in India. English in the Indian education system has very powerful effects on the class structure of Indian society, the divide between the informal and formal markets of the Indian economy, the government and Indian politics, as well as the minority cultures and languages that are in danger of becoming extinct in favour of more widespread tongues. I am very excited to work on this project this upcoming semester!
Last but not least, I would like to thank Carol and Lloyd Darlington, for without their generous donation this would not have been possible. Their contribution to my internship experience has had collateral and tangible effects through my work on the other side of the world, and for that I am profoundly grateful.