Though quite some time has lapsed since my experience in 2001, I wanted to share my experience as it has sigificantly impacted on my life.
When I went to India, I has just turned 18 and though nervous, I was also excited. the support that AV offered was fantastic. Before I went somone interviewd me and took time to get to know me than the bigger gap campanies other firends went with did. We had a great induction on our way to the vilages. We were visited by Richard half way thorugh our placement and also at the end. We also had local support in the interim if needed.
The experience was challenging, exciting and rewarding. The sites, the smells, the people were all so vivid. The children at school were so keen to see us and full of questions. We went to weddings, Indian festivals, locals houses for dinnerand experienced aspects of Indian culture no holiday has ever given me. Ooooh and don't let me forget the delicous food. Cheap, yummy and being vegetrain is easy.
My confidence was greatly improced by the experience. I gained insights into another culture and was able to see things from different perspectives. This has stuck with me to this day and has only benefitted me in terms of my career. When I first left university , I moved to London. Without my AV experience, I do not think I would have had teh confidence in myself to do this. The experience helped with job interviews as I had an endless list of examples to use in the interview.
Three years later my brother went to Kenya with AV as we had been impressed by AV@s organisation, its ethos and how it really cares about people on the scheme, the schools and teh local community. My brother met his future wife in Kenya on the scheme. 3 nephews followed some years later - so thanks to AV, I am also an Auntie :)
P.S. I do not come from a rich family but had a part time job and also wrote to local companies for sponsorship in order to take part. It was worth every penny. Plus, once you get to India the cost of living is very low.
Go for it!