Pooja Mehta couldn’t wait to work and travel around India. Born and brought up in Birmingham, she had often visited Ahmedabad, but to see India in its entirety she needed a whole year. Which is why, at 21, she took a year off to do volunteering in India.
Pooja is not alone. India has always been a very popular destination for gap students. Not only because of its rich culture but also because of the myriad work opportunities that it presents. Organisations like Indicorps.org and UK-based Gapguru.com say that they have recorded a significant rise of almost 25 per cent in the number of Indians nationals who have been asking to be placed in India for their gap year.
According to Namrata Jain, marketing officer of Gapguru.com they have tied up with a number of NGOs and schools across India to cater to this need. “NRIs, especially the younger lot, want to experience India through a different set of eyes, which is why we get a lot of requests from them. For them costs also work out better and the journey is very meaningful.”
Kaila Dafforn (17), an NRI from Chicago who has been with Hope Worldwide in Chennai for the last five months, says the experience has changed the way she looked at life. “I chose to come to India to work with HIV-positive children and because I have family here,” She goes on to add that the experience has matured her tremendously. “It has brought me closer to India, my family and to myself.”