Alumni Spotlight: Jane Russell

Jane is a senior female traveler with a real thirst for adventure. She also desires to give back to society wherever possible.

Why did you choose this program?

I chose the STEP program as I have always wanted to visit India and also to be able to give time to the children in the schools, orphanages, and the street children who have to sell rags to live. I figured it was the perfect trip for me.

I wasn’t quite prepared for the impact that this trip would have on me, and I can’t wait to go back. The children are amazing, and their smiles just light up their faces and fill your heart with absolute love for them. They are very eager to learn the simple basics, and they love to play.

What did your program provider assist you with, and what did you have to organize on your own?

I was provided with a place to stay with a beautiful family who lives alongside the volunteers. I had to sort out my own flights, insurance, and visa, which was very easy. The whole process was very straight forward, and if I had any questions about the trip, POD was always there to talk to me and help. I would definitely contact them again without doubt.

What is one piece of advice you'd give to someone going on your program?

Just do it! It’s such an easy process, and you have lots of help and support all the way. Whilst in India, I was so well looked after by the host family that I really did not miss home at all. In fact, my only regret was that I didn’t stay longer.

What does an average day/week look like as a participant of this program?

The day starts with breakfast of toast and eggs, cereal, tea and coffee, and lots of fresh drinking water to top up your water bottles for the day ahead. Transport would arrive at around 10 AM to take us to the school. The classes consisted of approximately 8 to 12 children, and we would teach ABC and simple sums. We would go back to the house for lunch which was provided for us each day and was delicious vegetarian food.

In the afternoons, we would go to the orphanages and do arts and crafts or play games with the disabled children. Three times a week, in the evenings, we would visit the street children’s community and teach ABC and simple sums and play games with them for 30 minutes or so. The evenings were spent preparing lessons for the following day after a delicious dinner. We also had lots of time for sightseeing, a lot of which was organized by the hosts, and it was amazing.

Going into your experience abroad, what was your biggest fear, and how did you overcome it? How did your views on the issue change?

My main fear was traveling 4,000 miles on my own with three flight changes. My fears were soon dispelled as it was all so straight forward and easy. I was picked up at Udaipur by Ravi and taken to the volunteer house where upon arrival I was fed and given tea. My hosts made me feel so welcome, and I was introduced to the other volunteers in the house. There was a mix of ages, and we all got along extremely well.

Some more advice..

Be bold and do it! It’s such an amazing experience. Just immerse yourself in the culture of the country that you visit, and go with an open mind. Take in as much as you possibly can because your time overseas will just go so quickly, and you will be home before you know it, wishing you were still there!