One of the interesting things about the program here is the internship aspect of the program. Being here for a year, I have been able to expereince two different internships giving me different experiences. I know also a lot of other people having different experiences when it comes to their internship here in India.
Internships in India are completely different than working anywhere else. India is a much less organized or concerned about being fully organized in all aspects. Therefore, there can be miscommunications about what needs to be done or what is going to be done. It is really important to be very clear with your internship people about what your tasks are. The other thing is, sometimes they aren't aware of those tasks so setting that out in the beginning is important. In addition, they may or may not check in with you or be on your back to do all of that work, because they trust you will do it. It is therefore important to be ontop of your responsibilites and manage your time well. In addition, there are going to be things that are lost in communication because of the language barrier. It definitely is frustrating and upseting when you are trying to get work done, but just try to be as clear as possible with your supervisor, point of contact, and even the translator. This will help the translators to communicate clearly to those people and then hopefully everyone will understand. Agian, if there are any complications, the program is always there to set things straight in these sort of situations.
I have talked before about the white savior complex in study abroad programs and how problematic that is. I know some people come into this internship with expectations or wanting to help/change things for the better. India is a complicated country that has had social justice and other issues for years. It is difficult to change that all in a six week internship. It would be difficult not just in India, but any other country to create change/help singificantly within a six week internship. And think about what it is you want to do and why you want to do that. Support local groups or organizations that are doing grassroots work to better specific communities/issues.
Again, expecatations are such an important thing when it comes to study abroad. I have talked about this in a previous blog post, but it is also important in the context of internships. Like I said before, try not to have expecations when it comes to this internship. Or if you do want specific things to happen, be more specific on the intake form. I know its hard to gauge what you want when you haven't been in India, but you also have time while your here in the beginning to talk to Dr. Veena about what you want. Last semester, I loved my internship and I felt like my work was really important. The only thing I didn't enjoy, and I talked to Dr. Veena about this, is that I was constantly sitting at a desk. For me, I thrive when I am interacting with people, animals, or anything really. I can't sit at a desk all day, I need that interaction. I told this to Dr. Veena, and knowing that this semester my internship is even better than before. I am working at an organization that works in the slum areas of Pune providing services to those communities. Half of my day, I am interacting with children in a day care set up where they are given medicines and food to improve their health. The kids are wonderful and I enjoy playing with them and interacting with them. The other half of my day, I am working with these women who make cards, jewlery, and other products as an empowerment project. I rarely am sitting at a desk on my computer, my internship craves human interaction and I absolutely love that.
I was very clear with Dr. Veena about what I was looking for and I got it. If you are as clear as you can be on that form, then your internship will go well. Think about what you really want and be as specific as you can be. Don't be the white savior, no one asked you to do that nor do you need to do that. Support local communities that are doing the work to solve issues and provide support to communities.