People Make the Place – Experteering Story of the Month with Erin Dowd

Mark Horoszowski

Vanavil Trust Students

This past week we had the pleasure of speaking with Erin Dowd who just returned from a 2 1/2 month Experteering trip in India with Vanavil Trust, a school expanding its curriculum and adding a computer lab.

As with our other stories, not only do these conversations expose some valuable insight about what it’s like to be in the field, but they also provide some fun life lessons, too.

We recorded our conversation and put it to pictures on this short video. I hope you’ll give it a full listen as Erin has some really wonderful thoughts about travel, Experteering, and life…


 

Here are just a few snippets from our chat…

What were you doing before your Experteering trip?

I had recently left my teaching career, which I had been doing for ten years. After that I experimented with travel writing and also did some freelance work with an education company, but neither fully aligned my passion for writing and education and I was looking for something next.  I was open to the idea of something big… something new… and that’s when I came to MovingWorlds.

Image of Erin traveling off the beaten path in India
Erin traveling off the beaten path in India

What did you do on your Experteering trip?

I went to the Vanavil Trust, a school in southern India. It was adding a computer lab and also expanding its curriculum.

Pictures of Erin Experteering at computer with Vanavil Trust
Erin Experteering at the new computer lab at Vanavil Trust

 

What was the highlight of your Experteering trip?

The people.

My host… my family… the community… everyone was fantastic and I truly felt a part of the community.

The people make the place!”

Experteering with a school
Erin recognizing the students for their hard work

What was one thing you wish you knew before you went volunteering overseas?

I wish people told me to stay longer. I didn’t realize I would have fallen in love with India the way that I did… and I really wish I would have stayed longer.

Adding health to curriculum
Vanavil teachers sharing health information

What advice do you have for people thinking about international volunteering and/or Experteering?

It’s important to set big goals, but also be realistic. Relax a little bit. Know that you can’t do everything, and once you’re on the ground, you might not be able to do everything you want to do. Regardless, having a direction will help you make a lot of little things happen that, at the end of the day, add up to make a big impact.

If you travel to India (or anywhere else for that matter), know that everything you know about life is going to get flipped upside down, and you have to be OK with that… if you can handle that, it’ll be an amazing experience.

Lastly, find beauty in the small things. You’ll be surrounded with challenges every day, but search for the little things around you that bring out the true beauty in life.


Erin went Experteering through MovingWorlds.org May through July, 2015.

You can follow Erin on Twitter, and I highly recommend you read her blog post about her time in India here.

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