This 11-month fellowship is an excellent opportunity for recent college grads (0-2 years) who are particularly interested in international development or other issues in the Global South. It's unique in that the organization that sends you (AJWS) partners you with a local, grassroots NGO in India for whom you will volunteer. The relationship between you, AJWS, and the NGO is a strong one, and you are well supported by both AJWS (in the field and in their NY HQ) as well as the NGO staff on the ground.
Each cohort has 10-12 fellows, and NGO placements vary widely. The majority are in large urban centers (Mumbai, Pune, Ahmedabad), however there are various placements in small towns and usually 1-2 placements per year in very rural settings. AJWS takes into account your preferences for geography, proximity to other fellows, skills, and work interest when determining your placement - and they are very good at matching you to an NGO!
NGO work also varies. Most placements are with NGOs that work on women's empowerment, health (nutrition, HIV/AIDS, community health), and human rights (Dalit populations, nomadic tribes), however placements in the past have also been with NGOs that do post-disaster shelter work, agricultural livelihoods, and education. Fellow job duties are usually very general, and include "office support" for the NGOs. Sample past duties included: documentation of the NGOs work and/or history, organizational development, project management, designing surveys for effective program management, writing policy pieces for regional and national HIV/AIDS issues, designing community health posters and projects for rural communities, etc. etc. All placements also usually include frequent field travel.
Daily activities in the places that fellows live vary based on the type of city/town/village. In a large city, there are just as many options as any Western city, and fellows make a lot of expat friends. In the smaller towns and rural placements, social activities may be much harder to find, however fellows usually have a more tight-knit, tradition Indian community and experience. In all cases, English is enough to do your work, however picking up a second, local language (Gujarati, Marathi, Hindi, etc.) is very helpful.
The peer-network aspect of the program makes this fellowship very special. The 10-12 fellows have a 1-month orientation in-country before they go to their NGOs, a mid-point retreat, and a domestic follow-up retreat. Throughout the year, fellows stay in touch via cell phones, and travel to visit each other often. The fellow network is the biggest and most important support system for fellows, and fellows stay close throughout and after the experience.
Bottom line-- the fellowship is an excellent, first exposure to the work of grassroots NGOs in India and international development work in general, has a great support system of fellows, AJWS staff, and NGO staff, and is a perfect opportunity for adventurous recent grads looking for something different. Highly recommended!