The Volunteering Experience
Our teachers work hard but lack the background and training of western teachers, so we really value the extraordinary contributions of our volunteers.
We offer good but simple accommodation at local homestay rates in the Director’s house adjacent to the school. The twin room also comes with use of the family kitchen. Darjeeling is a safe and friendly town with much to see.
How can I volunteer?
Although we occasionally take people with other skill sets, we typically need experienced primary school teachers.
They should be adaptable and flexible enough to cope with a completely different learning environment. They would be people who feel a wish to contribute in some way to the lives of less fortunate children and would ideally have sufficient confidence to take charge of a class if appropriate.
They might also be able to help the teachers to improve certain aspects of their teaching. It goes without saying that we expect our volunteers to supply evidence that they have been background checked.
The School year
As with all other schools in Darjeeling, the school year opens in the first week of March and closes at the end of November.
In Spring school is disrupted by exams followed by a week’s closure.
In Summer there is no closure during the monsoon.
Autumn is punctuated by religious festivals with closures for Durga Puja followed by Diwali.
Then secondary school entrance exams are held for the top class before the end of term.
Making an Application
Arrangements for volunteering are made by the secretary of SAI in consultation with the school, so it may take a little while to sort things out. The next stage is to return a completed application form together with the fee of £100.
If your placement falls through because of any failure on our part your fee may be returned.
There will be guidance on dress, local customs, and if there is a particular skill you wish to offer, we will do our best to accommodate you.
Travel to the Area
The journey is straightforward with a variety of flights from the UK to Delhi, an internal flight to Bagdogra in West Bengal, and finally a 3 hour taxi ride to Darjeeling.
The total cost varies, but may be around £800.
Terms and conditions
We only accept one volunteer at any time or a pair travelling together .
We charge only £100 admin fee for volunteering, and hope to provide an interesting experience which is both enjoyable and fulfilling.
There will be plenty of opportunity to interact directly with the children since they speak good English in the four oldest classes and lessons are conducted through the medium of English.
The minimum duration for a placement is two weeks, as it usually takes several days for volunteers to get their bearings.
A base level of physical fitness is required: the ground is very steep and the approach to most of the classrooms is via steep steps.