Zoé Gautheron recently completed her 6 month internship with Rang De during which which she handled projects like the Rang De Box Office and Rang De Chapter websites among other things. Here is her Letter to India where she talks about her experiences, internship and what being in India was like.
My name is Zoé, I’m French, 21 and I recently left India. This is my Indian story…
My business school gives every student the opportunity to do a 6-month internship abroad. The purpose of it is to give us the chance to discover a new culture and a professional activity that we are curious about. I immediately knew that I would go and work in an NGO. Why? To me NGOs are the real actors of social change, especially in developing countries where many issues are to be dealt with and NGOs lead a genuine combat against inhuman disparities. NGOs are the real change makers and I want to be a change maker!
I had first planned to go to South America but then I saw an internship offer on our school platform about a certain Rang De in India. The description of the tasks urged me to know more about Rang De and I read a lot about it on the web and on their website –a website that I thought was really friendly and transparent. I also got in touch with one of my seniors who had interned at Rang De the year before. She shared that she had really enjoyed her experience and told me that I was lucky to go there. She told me that not only was I going to enjoy the beauty of India but I was also going to learn a lot at Rang De!
I can now tell you that after 6 months in India, my senior had not lied. Coming from a Western country, my 6 month stay in India has taught me a lot. Not just about the country but I also learnt a lot about myself.
If I were to explain what India means to me, I would say that it is a country of smell, tastes and colours. The smell of the spices, of the flowers, the taste of food that you eat and feel with your fingers, the colours of the flowers, of the temples, of the saris and so much more. I’m going to miss this beautiful picture of India for sure.
It might interest you to know what seemed weird to me in India. First off, the traffic! The way people drive is crazy and insane! People should just be more careful and follow the rules! Secondly, the noise! Why do people have to honk so much? Thirdly, no toilet paper! I know it’s funny, but I wasn’t informed that nobody uses toilet paper! One of the things that fascinated me the most are the auto rickshaws –the first time I got into one, I was so excited that I actually filmed my experienced and shared it with my family in France. All these things that seemed ‘weird’ to me are actually normal. C’est la vie here.
Coming to India showed me that the way we think, live and do “normal” things in the western countries may not the same in the rest of the world. Well, things are just different, and it would be pointless to compare France to India. These are two different countries with two different cultures due to a different past and history. And I had to keep that in mind when I felt frustrated about the way people act and think.
Speaking of work life in India, let me tell you more about my Rang De experience. I’ve done many things; I’ve been working on many projects (RDBO, the LUI campaign, Chapters’ websites). However, this is not what I would probably tell people back in France about my internship. I’ll tell them what I have really appreciated is creating a relationship with my colleagues. Since the beginning, they have been there to explain to me their tasks, to take the time to answer my questions and patiently repeat, because it took me a while to improve my English listening and speaking abilities. They were also there to tell me about the Indian culture. They have been there to make me feel at home and cheered me up. Unfortunately, when I wasn’t with my friends, I felt different, alone and stared at by everybody!
There are so many things I could say about this wonderful Indian adventure of mine — I’ll miss drinking coconut water on the streets, the smiling Indian faces (though they have a million reasons to be sad and angry at the system but have decided to make the best of what they have instead of complaining about what they don’t) I’ll also miss learning something new every day about a country that was absolutely unknown to me just 6 months back!
I’m really happy to have come here and go through this amazing experience. I’ve learnt so much, every second in India presented an occasion to learn and understand something. This experience has made me grow as a person and I am glad to know that my stay in India is an unforgettable chapter that I would cherish all my life!