Staff Spotlight: Ridhi Patel



Ridhi is extremely passionate about travel and community development and loves spending time exploring new places, cooking, and doing anything cultural.

What is your favorite travel memory?

My favorite travel memory was a trip with my friends to Kashmir in North India. Kashmir is quite possibly one of my favorite places in India with breathtaking vistas, amazing warmth and local hospitality, and plenty of adventure. Its culture is still strong and people still live in a simple way, which is what I love the most.

How have you changed/grown since working for your current company?

We work with a lot of local communities as well as foreigners and I feel that everyday is different. There is always something new happening on the projects, and I learn something new everyday.

My perspective on life has changed a lot with my work. There are so many people in this world struggling, I have learned to appreciate my life with the smallest things. Overall my job has helped me to grow as a person and be able to help others with no expectations.

What is the best story you've heard from a return student?

I had a student who joined us and had never taught before or in fact, traveled outside the US where she was from. At 18 she was a young, shy girl when she came to India! She dove in and volunteered with us for 3 months. By the time she left she had changed so much - she was clearly more confident, was able to bargain with Indians, traveled around India for her final two weeks in local trains and was not frightened of making mistakes.

She made so many friends with older volunteers and peers and everyone she met. I feel this girl changed so much and I know that today she travels the world confidently and she has become a theatre actor now and is doing extremely well! So that's a great success story for us to see a transformation in her as a person.

If you could go on any program that your company offers, which one would you choose and why?

I absolutely love the Kolkata program. Kolkata as a destination is simply enigmatic. It's got old world charm, history, culture and a real mix of people that range from Armenians, Ango Indians, Bengalis, Parsis, Gujaratis, Punjabis, Chinese and lots more all living in harmony.

This city oozes charm like no other and the projects here are undoubtedly the most interesting.

The city has so many slum areas and so many rewarding projects that even Mother Teresa spent a life time in this city and never left. Our projects involve working in the tiljala and topsia slum areas and helping with critical education, health and hygiene and women's empowerment projects. This is a project not to be missed!

What makes your company unique? When were you especially proud of your team?

What makes my company unique is that we provide great quality and local support. Our local team is our strength and I would say everyday I am thankful for having a supportive and intelligent team who can work with volunteers and community members and create a world of opportunities and dreams happen.

I was extremely proud of my team when we had a huge group over summer this summer and had to handle different group needs and projects, and everything went so smoothly due to great organization on their part.

What do you believe to be the biggest factor in being a successful company?

The most important factor to a good company is the people. A great team makes a successful company. For us, it's our local teams who organize and deliver the projects to volunteers, who lease with our local community needs and make it all happen.