Same Same but Different…

This is what stallholders in Asia tell you about their wares. The phrase runs around in my head as we prepare to leave for India again in a few days. It will be our 6th time volunteering at Shanti Bhavan School and, as always, I’m just a tad nervous. In one sense it will be the same same but it has the potential to be very different too.


Could our fellow volunteers be just as wonderful as the ones with whom we have worked so closely in the past? Will we get on? What about the volunteer coordinator (OSA)? This ‘On Site Administrator’ commits to the school for a year to coordinate the teaching loads and smooth the way between the traditional Indian teachers and the transient parade of enthusiastic but varied volunteers. The OSAs so far have all been amazing, selfless people, who bring their unique set of skills to the job. They work tirelessly to set the tone for the volunteers and are pivotal to the enjoyment of our experience. While there is always some trepidation – undoubtedly, the OSA we are about to meet will be terrific too – ‘same same but different.’


Crazy kids

Last year, creative volunteers put together a 3-minute video to wish everyone ‘Happy Holidays’. It portrays dance music through time and is fun on two levels. I love it firstly because the kids are so happy, and secondly because the background to the shots show the school from many different angles.

It also shows the range of our kids. Remember that this unique school takes in 4-year-olds from, often horrific, socially and economically deprived backgrounds and sees them all the way through university and into their first jobs. They don’t add any more kids to a batch, so every kid we teach in the senior school, we used to read bedtime stories to when we first came in 2010. We adore these kids because they are all ‘same same but different’. Enjoy the video.

Happy Holidays video