Teach English in the Himalayan Foothills - iSPiiCE

Location
India
Length
1 - 52 weeks
13 travelers saved this program

Hosted by

Varun Verma
Program Coordinator

About This Program

Poor education standards, illiteracy and high student dropout rates are some of the more glaring issues for educational reform in India.

Schools, especially rural schools suffer severe shortfalls in resources and iSpiice volunteers help by assisting local staff and giving lessons in various educational institutions. The most commonly requested subjects for teaching are English and Computers – both which come naturally to most volunteers.

Many of the local teachers speak very little English themselves (making it near impossible to teach the subject) and most Schools do not have computers on which to teach on. Coming from mostly low earning farming backgrounds the children’s English and computer skills are weak. Without these skills it is not possible to progress to further education courses in India, which are taught in English language, reducing job options.

Highlights

  • Enjoy projects are in the stunning Dharamsla region of Himachal Pradesh
  • On off days, hike Dharamsala's snow-capped peaks and lush green valleys
  • Take trips to the Dalai Lama Monastery
  • Morning or Evening yoga classes
  • Walk around the Kangra Tea Gardens

Volunteers work on their two preferred Programs per day. For example Teaching English in
the morning and Street Children in the evening.

During the week your days at iSpiice will for the most parts, follow this schedule

 7:30am -Wake up and enjoy a chai.
 7:45am - Yoga class (60 minutes)
 9:00am - Breakfast and work preparation.
 10:30am - Program 1 (2 hours).
 12:45pm - Break for lunch and work preparation.
 2:00pm - Program 2 (2 hours).
 4:30pm - Afternoon chai and work preparation.
 7:00pm - Dinner.
 7:30pm - Relax, go shopping, prepare for tomorrow's Programs.

iSpiice volunteers will have weekends free and time available to participate in Add On Tours.

What's Included
Accommodation Meals Transportation Wifi
What's Included (Extra)

Airport pick up, all meals, accommodation at volunteer house, transport, teaching materials, local sightseeing, Internet (Wi-Fi), filtered water, morning or evening yoga

iSpiice Volunteer House and Programs are situated in the villages of Dharamsala, Himachal Pradesh (North India). Dharamsala is a region in the Kangra Valley district sitting at 1500m above sea level. Famous for its lush green vegetation, it’s sheltered by the magnificent snow capped Dhauladhar range in the Himalayas. The location is peaceful, beautiful and spiritual – also home to the Dalai Lama.

Our village of Sidhwari is close to Dharamsala town and McLeod Ganj town. Both areas are buzzy with international and Indian tourists - great for shopping, taking yoga classes and eating out.

Volunteers stay at the iSpiice Volunteer House with the iSpiice staff. Accommodation is clean and comfortable with western style toilets, hot running water and access to the internet. We have separate male and female bedrooms and bathrooms.

Video and Photos

Availability

Two Weeks
$700 USD
Three Weeks
$850 USD
Four Weeks
$1000 USD
Five Weeks
$1150 USD

Reviews

92%
based on 14 reviews
  • Benefits 9
  • Support 9.6
  • Fun 8.9
  • Facilities 9.4
  • Safety 9.5
Showing 1 - 14 of 14
Default avatar
Sharron
8/10

Great Experience.

“I am so grateful to have been able to support this outstanding organization. The iSpiice team is making a noticeable difference in the community and I am thankful to have been a part of it. Everything was so carefully organised and cared.The iSpiice team is so dedicated to their jobs and everyone in the community is thankful for your hard work. I can honestly recommend iSpiice for anyone who wants to volunteer in India.”

How can this program be improved?
I will not change anything!
Yes, I recommend this program
Default avatar
Irina-Maria
5/10

Not coming back

I must confess that overall my experience here was disappointing and far away for what has been presented in the borchures.The experience had both good and bad parts, of course, but the latter proved to be stronger. Among the good things I can think of the contact with the lovely, curious children, the breathtaking landscapes and the care of the staff for our safety. The programme however cost way too much for what it has offered. I later found out that the site facilitating contact between the organization and volunteers takes away no less than 40%, which is a hug amount that basically goes to the profit of some third party. Then I was very dissatisfied with the room. I myself am highly allergic to mold and humidity and unfortunately the place I stayed in was full of it. I understand it was monsoon season but the room had a broken fan, cracked walls full of mold, a dirty rusty bathroom and everything was soaked. The bedsheets were disgusting and looked like they hadn't been washed in a very long time. The matresses were also in a very bad state. Basically everything was deteriorated and dirty. My request to swap the room at least with one with a working fan went ungranted so in just a few days I found myself troubled by my sinusitis which has prevented me from focusing on other important things. During the trips I stayed at very cheap hotels which also had numerous problems (dirt, ants, very bad neighborhood). Again, quality was not reflected in the huge amount of money I paid for the project. Now about the school. It was baffling to me to see the deplorable state of the children's space and I wonder why nothing has been invested so far in the community. I tried asking questions to the organization's manager but I was given vague answers. The children were adorable but the classes were quite disorganized. Because volunteers come and go and everyone has other ideas about what's to be taught, it can get really confusing for them. Ok, let's say that is somehow understandable and we have to adapt to the needs and resources, but the fact that the accomodation is in such poor condition has no excuse whatsoever. They could at least pay for someone to clean once a week. The kitchen also looked horribly dirty. All I would have liked was cleanliness and a decent room. As for the impact, I am not sure how much I was able to help. I am seriously questioning the utility of short-term volunteering projects as I can see both from my experience and from others' that local communities don't really benefit from them. You get there, have the chance to explore a little and talk to people, but it's not enough. The programme should have included more hours per day, 6 or 7. We had gaps when there simply was nothing to do. The kids at school should also be better monitored, maybe with diaries assessing their levels and what has been done so far. My impression overall was that the organization was not interested in such aspects. Everything seemed a huge improvisation. And to repeat, what annoyed me most was the lack of respect for the guests perfectly reflected in the VERY poor quality of the accomodation. As you can also see below. In the future I will most definitely try to find something directly, no intermediaries because otherwise it's a big scam!

How can this program be improved?
FIX THE ACCOMODATION.
Response from iSPiiCE

Dear Irina,

Thank you for sharing the review. We will be careful from now on about the accommodation.

So sorry to hear your experience wasn't good with iSpiice.

No, I don't recommend this program
Default avatar
Maria
10/10

Nice Place for teaching

It was my life changing experience after joining iSpiice. I can say with complete honesty that this was one of the best experiences of my life. I had always wanted to go to India and am so pleased that I chose to do it with iSpiice.

Yes, I recommend this program
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Larissa
9/10

Immersion in India

I volunteered for six weeks in iSpiice and it was a nice and safe way to discover the North part of India and also delicious culinary specialties. I have wonderful images stored in my head of beautiful children and magical memories of trips I had the opportunity to to alone during weekends.

How can this program be improved?
- Have a clearer program about the skills pupils have already acquired and which skills we should work on (grammar, vocabulary, ... -> a clear list of topics seen and those that need to be study)
- Work in more than one school and more than one slum
- Don't write on the website that you can help women when you can't in reality
Yes, I recommend this program
Default avatar
Kristyn
10/10

Authentic India

I believe iSPiiCE is one of the most authentic ways to experience the beautiful country of India. The staff is supportive and ensures your safety at all times, while allowing you to interact in the community. Teaching computer skills, English, and helping at daycare centers provided me with wonderful memories! The students were respectful and very enthusiastic! On the weekends, my group was led on wonderful excursions: from a trek in the Himalayan Mountains to a visit to the Taj Mahal! I strongly recommend iSPiiCE and I hope I can return someday!

Yes, I recommend this program
Default avatar
Margaret
10/10

Mature Volunteers

I was 65 years old and a recently retired School Business Manager when l flew out to India to help on three projects. Teaching touch typing to young married women in one of the ladies own homes. What a delight, eager to learn, supportive of each others efforts and very curious about my background. They all worked very hard on the lessons and improved daily.

Playgroup or Angarawi and ten little children learning through play. We used playdough, rhyme, books and music and they played some of there own games out, 'stalking tiger' and 'cattle in the stall', such fun.

Primary School, more formal lessons. Children well mannered, respectful and hungry for knowledge.

In return l was guided to places of interest off the beaten track, housed on a beautiful farm and given a room overlooking the Himalayas. Our food was cooked here with local produce, delicious.

I had a life enhancing experience and would recommend this organisation without reservation.

How can this program be improved?
It was perfect, l was well looked after throughout.
Yes, I recommend this program
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Georgia
10/10

An incredible oppurtunity

I would recommend iSPiiCE to any person wanting to volunteer abroad. After spending three weeks with the program I have been exposed to many new and wonderful experiences. The organisation, hospitality and warmth the team has demonstrated has made this experience an absolute pleasure.

A highlight that I will always remember is working with the children in the slums and being greeted each day by their genuine smiles and openness to learn.

How can this program be improved?
I do not feel anything needs to be improved with this program.
Yes, I recommend this program
Default avatar
John
9/10

A wonderful experience

HAving spent 3 weeks volunteering with Ispiice, I would thoroughly recommend it to anyone looking for a rewarding experience teaching abroad.

From the minute I stepped off the plane, Ispiice were there to ensure all my needs were met. The friendly, generous staff really looked after me as I adjusted to the different culture and traditions in India.

A highlight was working with the children who have a desire to learn that can not be matched. A strength of the program is it is well balanced giving the volunteer ample free time to explore and enjoy the local community and culture.

Only one regret - I did not stay longer.

John Rodgers

How can this program be improved?
I honestly can't think of any improvements.
Yes, I recommend this program
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Aoife
10/10

Magnificent experience

iSpiice opened my eyes to a whole new way of life. We worked in local nuseries, schools and community groups in the foothills of the Himalayan mountains with some of the warmest and most welcoming people. At each work area we were welcomed with warm smiles and cups of Indian chai. The area we lived and worked was spectacular and waking up to the magnificent Himalayan mountains each day was really something to cherish. In free time we got to explore the local area, seeing lots of beautiful temples and visiting the town were the Dalai Lama lives. I had so many fun and rewarding experiences at iSpiice and I truly miss it with all my heart.

Yes, I recommend this program
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Eleanor
9/10

First Indian Experience

My time volunteering with ispiice was my first trip to India, and Asia. I was worried about how I would adjust to living in India but ispiice really helped this transition from when they picked me up from the airport in Delhi. Time at ispiice basecamp and volunteering in the communities made me feel totally immersed in the local culture in Dharamsala from watching bollywood movies to helping out with field work in the local village. It was extremely rewarding teaching the students and helped inspire me to pursue a career in teaching beyond my volunteering experience.

You can read more about my time with ispiice on my blog

Yes, I recommend this program
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Aanchal
10/10

Great experience!

Choosing to volunteer at Ispiice was one of the best decisions of my life. I got to learn a lot and the people were very welcoming. The food they provided with was delicious and healthy and volunteering always brought joy! Overall it was a great experience!

Yes, I recommend this program
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Aliza
9/10

Wonderful Volunteer Experience

I had a wonderful time! I was really able to connect with my students, the iSpiice staff, and my fellow volunteers. I highly suggest volunteering with a local organization like this one, because they truly understand, and are a part of, the community.

Yes, I recommend this program
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Claire
10/10

Rewarding and Inspiring

My time with iSpiice has been extraordinary. The team are generous and supportive 24/7, teaching street children has been challenging but rewarding and I have seen so many enchanting sights of India.

Yes, I recommend this program
Default avatar
Barbara
10/10

I LOVE iSPiiCE; I Will Return!

I traveled with a group of ten students to serve with iSPiiCE during January 2012. Upon returning to my university, my supervisor asked me about my experience. I simply replied: "I have returned a different person than when I left."

The staff at iSPiice are simply amazing; they provided for our every need! They were gracious, patient and hospitable. Most of all, they were a fun group of folks to be with. Being 55 I experienced the trip differently from my 20-year old college students, and the staff ensured that all of us grained tremendously and felt engaged. They made certain that we encountered that perfect balance of adventure and support.

I simply cannot say enough about this program, the organizational leaders, and the people I worked with in India. I vow to return!

How can this program be improved?
I wish I had been better prepared mentally for the travel to the program. The flight from the US, the long, long, long train ride (our train took 11 hours getting there), and then a car ride.

Nothing the program could have done about this.

Our return trip was easily because I knew what we would face...and the return train only took about eight hours...such is the way with trains in India.

Other than that, the program itself was ABSOLUTELY PERFECT!
Yes, I recommend this program

Questions & Answers

All my living costs were met by iiSpice from Delhi onwards. Meals, travel and accommodation are all in so you only need money for personal spending. I also used my bank card for cash and *buying larger items so that I was not carrying large amounts of money. * I bought some jewelry, stayed in the Tibetan hotel in McLoud Gange overlooking the Tibetan Temple and took advantage of a massage in a...

Interviews

Meet the Staff

About iSPiiCE

iSPiiCE (Integrated Social Program in Indian Child Education) is a voluntary social organisation that builds partnerships between International volunteers and rural Indian communities. With 80% of India’s population living in rural areas an iSPiiCE...