Teaching English in India

Lotte Pollack

Age: 19
Country: Germany
Placement: English Teacher

Leaving her mark at: A School Project for Underprivileged Children

This is Lotte’s first long-term experience living abroad and her first time in India. After finishing high school in Germany, she decided to take a gap year to work and travel abroad before starting university.  It was her mother who suggested India and Lotte decided that it was a great idea. “But I didn’t want to just travel,” she says of her decision, “I wanted to do something and be involved in a cause.”

With the help of Leave UR Mark, Lotte managed to find the perfect match for her interests and a good way to use her English language skills. She has been working as an English teacher at a school for underprivileged children in a rural village in Southern India. The school provides free education to 300 children living in this rural community. “My role is to teach English to the younger children,” explains Lotte. “The children are still beginners in English so another teacher helps me by translating for them.”

Living in a rural village environment has been a great way for Lotte to get completely immersed in a new culture. For someone who enjoys meeting new people and with a curiosity for other cultures, the experience has been rewarding.“Of course there have been a few challenges,” Lotte reveals, “but they have been learning experiences. I have to get by without knowing Kannada, the local language, for example, which isn’t easy. I have learnt to be more self-sufficient and independent. I’ve also become more outgoing and I have no problem approaching people I don’t know – something I would never do before! And I’ve learnt how to be happy on my own.”

Lotte lives on the spacious and leafy school campus. “A typical day for me starts with breakfast at 7:30am. I then have an hour to prepare for the day’s classes before school starts at 9am. I have a few free periods during the day so I’m not teaching constantly. At 1pm we have lunch and then classes continue until 3:30pm. I take walks and read a lot. The library at the school is quite good so I go there often. Sometimes I take the school bus to the village and go to the shops and use the Internet café. In the evenings I often go to one of the children’s hostels and play with the kids before dinner. On the weekends I usually take the bus to Bangalore where I meet up with other volunteers and explore the city.”

India has left a lasting impression on Lotte and she’s sure she will visit again. “This is my first time in India and I love it!” she gushes. “I love the people, the food, the clothes…. I’m sure I’ll come again. People are very friendly and often invite me to their homes. I was invited to the wedding of one of the teachers at my school. I was the only foreigner there and that was quite the cultural experience. Everyone wanted to meet the foreigner in a sari! I’m vegetarian so I’m really enjoying South Indian food. I haven’t had the chance to travel a lot because I’ve come here to work and I wanted to focus on that. But I have been to Hampi and Goa and would like to travel more.”

Lotte hopes that she will also leave a lasting impression on the children. “I hope I’m making an impact on the children,” she says. “I try to get the kids to think and learn in different ways rather than learning by rote. I also think it’s good for them to meet people from abroad and give them some exposure. The most valuable experience for me has been meeting so many different people and experiencing a new culture. I would definitely recommend this experience to others.”

Lotte is nearing the end of her six-month placement with Leave UR Mark.  Her love for cultures and languages has inspired her to study English and French and after this first successful experience living abroad, she hopes to have the chance to do a study exchange in another country.

To apply for this project, email info@leaveurmark.com


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