Over the years we have had many individuals come and volunteer at our school at various capacities and they have all added so much value to what we do here at Sikkim Himalayan Academy.
Here is what they have to say about their experience.
I volunteered at SHA in the year 2018. I was a teach for India fellow at that time and I was very keen to explore how schools work in a place as remote as Buriakhop, Sikkim. After a long day of travel and unkind weather, I reached the very warm village of Buriakhop.
As a volunteer at SHA, I helped document the everyday activities with the help of photographs and also volunteered in the pre primary classrooms. On the very first day, I was greeted with the love of all the staff and the students. I remember how quickly I felt like a part of the SHA family. The quality of education at SHA is unparalleled to some of the schools I used to visit in Bombay. Even at a place as remote as Buriakhop, the teachers were on point with their excellent plans and execution. Students were very high on discipline and values and it was very touching to see the school perform so well. From my experience at SHA, I learnt that one can provide excellent education and a learning environment to students if all stakeholders keep the student learning at the heart of the conversation. I feel very privileged and proud to have been part of the SHA family.
I’ve been a teacher by profession for the last seven years, having worked with schools and junior colleges in Pune, Bangalore, Mumbai and Darjeeling. I joined Sikkim Himalayan Academy as a volunteer post the Covid lockdown of 2020, where I was working from home, and desperately needed to escape to a quiet place for some retreat. Having worked only with teenagers and adults before, I figured I’d try my luck with children this time, and though that proved to be quite a trial, albeit hilariously, at times, the experience has been nothing short of wonderfully eventful.
I volunteered with Sikkim Himalayan Academy for the whole session of 2022-’23, during which, I was the class teacher of Grade V, and additionally, taught English and a slight bit of Science to grades III-V. I also handled the social media accounts of SHA, and helped in the planning of school events and programs. The ten months that I’ve spent being involved with SHA, have undoubtedly been some of the most productive ten months of my life! We often read accounts of people who’ve taken their leaps of faith, gone outside their comfort zone to test their limits, and most of those stories often end with how life-changing those experiences can be, and I must say, having worked with SHA, in this remote little village called Buriakhop in West Sikkim, has been exactly that kind of an experience!
When you choose to work with children, you inadvertently allow them to teach you more than you can teach them! And that is exactly what happens at SHA! In fact, during the process of being a volunteer, you automatically become a student of learning children’s manners, local customs and traditions, and to a certain extent, even the local language!
Volunteering at SHA does not stop at working with the students alone. With day school ending at 3 pm, a volunteer has enough time in their hands to take long walks along the beautiful village roads, explore the flora that the Eastern Himalayas are so famous for, and even interact and make friends with the local community. What makes SHA unique from a bunch of several other schools is that the teachers as well as the volunteers here are given absolute freedom to deliver their lessons in whichever mode they feel the students get the maximum benefit from! Outdoor classrooms are encouraged, visual learners are able to maximize the utility of the usage of the Smart Classroom, and creativity is given utmost importance!
Volunteering at SHA, thus, is a wholesome experience that I believe one must experience, and in fact, take full advantage of, while they are here! The laughs are endless, humour flows both in the classroom as well as outside of it, and there is so much to learn from every single person both inside and outside the school, that the bunch of stories and experiences a volunteer comes back with, will be eventful enough to write a whole book!
Volunteering at SHA has been an exhilarating experience! I'd never imagined that teaching could be so much fun and if I have the chops to impart wisdom (of any kind!). The kids and the staff at SHA changed my perception of teaching and my capabilities. I taught some, learned a lot, forged some great friendships and ate a lot of delish food served at SHA!
Teachers and volunteers get a lot of freedom to experiment and help the students learn. The setting is perfect: Remote mountain village, friendly Sikkimese people, the fantastic staff at SHA, excellent food and super adorable and talented kids. I couldn't have asked for a more fulfilling experience. I would definitely go back.
In 2017 I was doing some soul searching and wanted to give back to society and travel and see a new part of the country and fate lead me to SHA. Children and education are two things that I have been immensely passionate about and SHA gave me a space to raise funds, help them run admin for the school, take classes, build programs and above learn from the children of the school. The children here are allowed to question and explore their curious minds with everything that the school has to offer. They are taught to be self reliable and also build community. I came away the first time learning more than I ever hoped and now go back every chance I get.
Buriakhop is a tiny remote village in West Sikkim, while the simple basic living took a city girl like me sometime to get used to, over time I learnt to enjoy and embrace the simplicity. It is now almost like home to me and I recommend this experience to anyone looking to give back and make a difference however small or big.
Volunteering at Sikkim Himalayan Academy has been a rewarding experience for me. I loved every moment spent with the students through various activities like art & painting classes, storytelling, listening & speaking skills, English language, and computer classes.
I am thankful to G S Gurung for giving me the opportunity, sharing SHA's vision and goals. SHA staff were very supportive, friendly, and encouraging. My favorite times were post-dinner music/dance jam sessions with the residential children followed by prayer & meditation at bedtime! I got so much out of volunteering at SHA through all the love and affection from SHA children. Their warm welcome made me part of the SHA family in no time!
I hope to remain involved with SHA and contribute to its goals by empowering young minds through continued education. I highly recommend it to anyone interested in volunteering for a similar cause.