With the whole campus shifting its focus to the global scenario: international internships, foreign exchange programmes, internships with MNCs et al doing the rounds, a rural fellowship programme is quick to turn a few heads and raise a curious eye.
Poultry and pastures are perhaps the first thing that would come to ones mind when asked to define the term ‘rural’. However,a rural fellowship and the projects associated with it venture much deeper. Rural fellowships give you a chance to explore as well as study rural India in actuality. Also, the fellows are given an opportunity to work on the various issues directly concerning the particular region assigned to them. These projects generally address a range of issues from microfinance, education, health and sanitation to child labour and agriculture .
What makes this programme so unique from is that one gets a first hand experience: instead of working on the issue from the comfort of your air conditioned room like any other ordinary work, you will the get the opportunity to reside with your host NGO in the village itself and work and live with the people, like the people, and study the problems of rural economy upfront.
iVolunteer India, in partnership with Sir Ratan Tata’s Trust, selects up to 20 students every year to go for a youth fellowship programme for six weeks to villages across the country. The primary aim of all the fellows is to help make a difference in rural India by virtue of their talent and education. As part of this year’s recently held fellowship programme, students from all over the varsity including colleges like Kirori mal college, Sri Venkateswara College St. Stephens. ,worked on a variety of projects such as child rights in Dehradun ,microfinance and livelihood, Shubhangi Shukla from Miranda House is still helping to promote art as a subject in the region of Kumaon where they children have never seen a set of crayons in their life. States Udisha Saklani, a second year student of St. Stephens who worked in on a water and sanitation project in Uttarakhand, “This exposure should be mandatory for every student, as it helps you both on a personal and professional level and sensitizes you towards bigger, more real issues that apparently sixty percent of our economy suffers from. This fellowship helped me become aware of the same.” Deepti Khera, a mass communication student from Mumbai worked in the village of Kolwan, Pune with autistic and schizophrenic people. “It was a life changing experience. I initially felt odd living with the special friends 24/7. I was also hit by an autistic person. But I realized how much more sensitive these special people are than us. “, she says. The fellowship also further inspired her to get into rural reporting. Also, her experience helped her gain admission in one of the top five mass communication institutes of India. Thus, one cannot deny that a rural fellowship does wonders for your CV., especially if seeking a scholarship in universities abroad.
For those dynamic ones ready to sample India for what it really is, rural fellowships are an excellent avenue providing a zing to your resume and an opportunity to do something meaningful with your time.