AIESEC Sri Lanka, Travel, Volunteer

Discovering the World through Global Volunteering: Chavindu’s Journey to India

Have you ever dreamt of exploring a new country, experiencing its diverse culture, and making lifelong friends from around the globe? Chavindu De Alwis, an Exchange Participant from Sri Lanka, embarked on a remarkable journey to India that not only fulfilled his expectations but also presented unexpected challenges and incredible moments of cultural exchange. Join us as we delve into Chavindu’s eye-opening adventure and discover the transformative power of global volunteering.

Setting Expectations and Embracing New Experiences

Before Chavindu’s trip to India, we asked him about his initial expectations. He shared that he simply aimed to travel, work on a project, and make new friends. Fortunately, his journey lived up to these expectations, leaving him fulfilled and content.

Embracing the Unexpected

As any seasoned traveler knows, unexpected moments can make a trip truly memorable. Chavindu recounted a challenging experience when he and his fellow travelers missed their flight in Mumbai. Stranded in a foreign country, they had to navigate a 17-hour train ride, cramped with people and little sleep. While the situation was unexpected and uncomfortable, it eventually became a valuable lesson in resilience and adaptability.

Overcoming Challenges

Chavindu also faced challenges such as a leaky air conditioner and the language barrier. Despite these obstacles, he and his companions managed to find solutions, sometimes relying on Google Translate or friendly locals who knew Hindi. These challenges only strengthened their determination to make the most of their exchange.

Understanding Global Diversity and Cooperation

One of the most enriching aspects of Chavindu’s exchange was the opportunity to connect with people from all over the world, including Brazil, Germany, Turkey, and Egypt. Through interactions, dances, and conversations about their respective cultures and religions, they gained a deeper understanding of global diversity and cooperation. This exchange fostered mutual respect and a sense of unity among participants.

Words of Wisdom for Future Exchange Participants

Chavindu had one piece of advice for future exchange participants: “Definitely do not miss your flight.” His experience taught him that even challenging situations can become valuable life lessons, adding depth to your journey.

Memorable Cultural Encounters

During his visit to Rishikesh, Chavindu had a memorable encounter with a yoga and dance event. The crowd came together to practice yoga and sing chants like “Hare Krishna,” providing him with a unique cultural experience that left a lasting impression.

Future Plans

Reflecting on his journey, Chavindu expressed a desire to explore more of India, particularly the south, including Mumbai and Goa. He also aimed to scale up his volunteering project, further contributing to the communities he encountered.

What He’ll Miss About India

Chavindu fondly mentioned three things he’ll miss about India: the beautiful landscapes, delicious food, and the incredible people he met. The friendships he forged with fellow Exchange Participants made the experience unforgettable.

Similarities and Differences Between India and Sri Lanka

Chavindu noticed similarities in the cuisines of India and Sri Lanka, both rich in spices and rice-based dishes. However, he also highlighted a notable difference—Indian traffic, characterized by frequent and seemingly frivolous horn usage, compared to the more reserved honking in Sri Lanka.

The Most Memorable Thing About His Visit

For Chavindu, the most unforgettable aspect of his trip was the independent journey he and his companions organized. This adventure allowed them to explore new places and create lasting memories, showcasing the power of teamwork and the thrill of self-discovery.

Chavindu’s journey to India is a testament to the transformative power of global volunteering. It’s not just about giving back; it’s about gaining invaluable life experiences, forging meaningful connections, and embracing the beauty of diversity. So, if you’re ever presented with the opportunity to embark on a similar adventure, don’t hesitate your life will be forever enriched by the journey.

Penned by

James Sembukuttiarachchi

Lead Journalist – SST 23.24 



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Travel, Volunteer, Youth

In the Footsteps of Change: My Volunteering experience in India

“Train your mind to see the good in everything” -Paul Walker 

Starting with the late veteran actor Paul Walker’s quote gives me more strength and motivation to pursue whatever I’m engaged in. It is like a lamp post that clears the way. As he had mentioned in the quote, I really wanted to gradually learn to see the good in everything rather than complaining about the things that  are not happening merely as we wish. In the journey of developing my mindset, I have encountered a big barricade that stops me from doing things. It is me being afraid to walk out of my comfort zone. At some point, I felt like I was not doing well enough and I was not pushing my limits. That is where the idea of volunteering popped up in my mind. Volunteering is a completely new venture for me and also I got the gut feeling that it will be a  novel challenge for me to test my inner strengths and weaknesses as well. Therefore, I applied for a six-week volunteer project via AIESEC in University of Peradeniya. I got the opportunity to volunteer with project Skill Up at the We Can We Will Foundation in Mumbai, India.

My first day at We Can We Will foundation  

Reflecting on my first day at foundation, it was an unforgettable memory for me. I was accompanied by my  good friend Sudhanshu from AIESEC in Mumbai at D.N. Nagar metro  station.

First day in India

After travelling in the metro my friend and I came to the foundation premises by a rickshaw. At first when I was  entering the foundation premises my first sight was some kids. They were doing various kinds of  activities. Some of them were reading books, some were playing small games and some were just going  here and there with happy faces. There, I came into realization on that very first day at We Can We Will foundation. That was the realization that  this was the place where I started seeing the very first sprouts of the seeds of my desire to work at a  foundation which were planted in my mind a long time ago.

Teaching underprivileged children

Teaching children at We Can We Will foundation

Teaching was not something I could ever do and it was not in my blood. That’s what I used to think  about teaching. But in reality I came into realization of the beauty of teaching. On the very first day of my  teaching I realized one important fact. It is as a teacher you get to see child psychology very well. It  can expand the way you look at the world. 

The very first student I had to do an English lesson was a kid called Siddharth. He was a very special  student due to two main reasons. First, he was like an Ice Breaker for me and secondly, he was the very  first student who obediently and actively engaged with me throughout the lesson. Even though his lessons  were not a big challenge for me as he was small and still learning basics in English I realized that was where  the real challenge begins. The challenge was how far I can get into the mindset of this student. I knew  without doing so I would not be a good teacher for him. 

Food Distribution

Food distribution at We Can We Will foundation

Food distribution was actually one of my favourite activities during the stay as it was all about giving  something without expecting anything in turn. It is human nature to give something meanwhile  expecting something in turn. But while engaging in food distribution at We Can We Will I felt more  happiness in giving as I could do it wholeheartedly without expecting anything in turn.

When I was at the food distribution on the first day I was almost soaked in water and my shoes were so  drenched as well. I was kind of discouraged about whether I can continue this great activity if the pouring would  continue every day. But slowly I started to see the good in that activity as it opens avenues to  give food for free for the people in need, meanwhile practicing teamwork. Then I started to gradually feel  the happiness I can have. 

Challenges I faced

This was the first time I have been to India. As a Sri Lankan, India was not much different to my eyes as  there were similar characteristics. However, as a first time traveler I had to undergo several aspects of  cultural shock in the first few days. Anyways as a person who was willing to take challenges I wanted to  grind through all the barricades coming in front of me.

Language barrier:

When I started working in the organization I did not feel much trouble with reference to language. The staff communicated to me in English and also most of the students were able to communicate in English. But sometimes there are situations where I felt if I knew the native language Hindi I could have made my explanations more precise and easily comprehensible for the students because at times I felt like for some students teaching in English is not much convenient for them.

Dealing with different age groups:

One of the very first doubts I got at first when I joined the organization was to which age group of students  I’m supposed to teach and what kind of level I should focus on when teaching them English. Even though I could have referred to other subjects, read them,  learnt them and in turn taught them I expressed my desire to teach English and also French if any student  asked me to. Because I knew by selecting only to teach them English and French would lead me to exert  my level best to give my maximum output to the children.

By that way I could overcome the number of  lines I have to draw based on the various age groups as learning a language is not much age specific and  it can start at any age and improve more at any age. By that nature of languages I could bring all the age  groups into one platform. Yes of course, I made some arrangements and decided on what to teach for each  student based on their level of comprehension and also their convenience.  

As most people do, on the very first days I was new to the environment and then I was a little hopeless. But thanks to Mr. Rishikesh, other staff and children; they welcomed me in a warm  manner and introduced me very well to this new lifestyle. And gradually it started to feel like home rather  than just another working place.

Every new beginning leads to new things. And also every new start has an end. In the same way, my days  as a volunteer at We Can We Will Foundation are going to end today but the things I learnt and the  network I built will go with me for a long time.  It is more of an  optimistic way to face any tough circumstances and grind harder than before. So, these three weeks  at the We Can We Will Foundation also helped me to practically apply it to an extent and prove to myself  the power of seeing things positively.


Ayush De Zoysa

Exchange Participant

AIESEC in University of Peradeniya


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AIESEC Sri Lanka, iGV, Travel, Volunteer, Youth

Cultivating change: the impact of Global Volunteers in Sri Lanka

Volunteers visiting University of PeradeniyaAlmost a quarter of the world volunteers globally and Sri Lanka leads this list with 46% of our national population volunteering to give back to society. The origins of volunteering come from evolution; for the longest time, human beings have depended on one another for survival. However, in psychological approaches, volunteerism translates to helping behaviour. Motives behind helping behaviour are fuelled by learning experiences and positive outcomes such as financial benefits, social recognition, or positive feelings about themselves from helping. These prosocial behaviours are battered, bruised and pushed into categories in academia. But in reality, they exist without a division, among us in our everyday things.

At AIESEC, volunteering is a way of life

Our volunteering opportunities are aligned to offer cross-cultural experiences to the participants. These opportunities are vital for the hosts as much as it is for the volunteers. For instance, in the aftermath of social turmoil, Sri Lanka was revived by the kindness of the community. The front lines, the most essential forces of change were the volunteers who picked up the slack. With the dramatic fall of our economy in 2022, the fallen spirits of our community was lifted by the volunteers who stepped up in numerous ways to uplift the lives of Sri Lankans. 

Volunteers in Project AquaticaSri Lanka has also always been a nation of tourism. We are home to lush rainforests, breathtaking beaches and waterfalls, mountains and terraces – the whole package! Sri Lanka also has a rich cultural heritage, both in terms of history and flavour. Streets of Lanka are scattered with confetti like mini shops of fried goodies, refreshing fresh king coconuts to drink and trinkets of souvenirs to accompany you through your journey in Sri Lanka. Our volunteering projects at AIESEC, based on the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) not only offer the volunteers an excellent opportunity to enhance their personal and professional goals, but also enhance the lives of all in Sri Lanka. When executed ethically, each of these volunteer projects have the power to support and develop the community.

The Role of International Volunteers in Sri Lankan Society

Apart from its contribution to the tourism sector in adding to the Per Capita Income, the communal engagement proves to enhance a better understanding of life here in Sri Lanka, going beyond the stereotyped and polarized headlines on internet news. There is bound to be a cultivation of a positive cultural education and appreciationVolunteers enjoying travelling in Sri Lanka through the foreign volunteers who get to engage with our local community and vice versa. Volunteering provides a journey of self-exploration and cultural confluence. With the planet in danger and nature in trouble, nations are facing unprecedented complexities. The SDGs provide a framework to manage them and volunteers actively play a part in the implementation of them.

Volunteers become crucial drivers of change, actively moulding the achievement of these goals. When they involve themselves in local areas, they create a lasting link to the advancement of the country. Essentially, volunteering not only helps people grow personally but also brings about real and positive changes. 


Thisandi Weerasinghe

Content Writer

AIESEC in University of Peradeniya


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Travel, Volunteer

A new chapter of my life: Volunteering in Hyderabad

Arrival at Hyderabad India

When I stepped out of the Rajiv Gandhi Airport in Hyderabad, India, I had mixed feelings of fear and excitement. I knew new things awaited me. At that moment, I knew this volunteering experience with AIESEC would be a new chapter in my life, a chapter that would accelerate my life towards a better future.

First Days at Work   

As volunteers for the Global Classroom program we; Binali, Pawani, Milni and I, were excited for our first day at work at Akshara techno school in Balapur, which was run by RICE NGO. With the school principal’s and fellow teachers’ guidance, we learned how to effectively teach a classroom filled with energetic students. It took us some days to settle down in the new environment. But, I felt that within these two days, I’ve become a better version of myself who handles challenges better and who can adapt to a totally new environment.

Being a rural school, most of the students were economically challenged. Seeing how they find hope for a better future by attending school, I felt grateful for having the chance to teach them. Even though sometimes I feel exhausted from working, teaching in the school is the best time of my stay in India. The students become friendlier with us and they are always excited to learn from us. Every day at school, the students awaited us to come and teach their classes. As our task is to improve their English speaking skills, other than teaching them English, we also try to communicate with them in English. Thus, despite the language barrier, we managed to communicate our experiences and lives with them and vice versa. Seeing them improving their English Speaking skills day by day, we were content with ourselves.

Train her Ascend

We witnessed another program run by RICE NGO on the 4th of July called Train Her Ascend, which was a program to empower young girls to achieve their career potential. They were given the chance to converse with us so they would build their confidence.

Exploring the city of Hyderabad

A must-mention joy of volunteering abroad is travelling and exploring the country. During our first weekend, we visited Charminar. It was built by Sultan Mohammed Quli Qutb Shah in 1591 as a memorial for people who died from the cholera pandemic that was ravaging the city. Now, it has become a major attraction in Hyderabad, where one could view the amazing architecture of Charminar and buy sarees, jewellery, bags and perfumes that are unique to Hyderabad for a cheaper price.

Furthermore, we visited the NTR garden of where the unique architecture and the greenery amazed us.

The next week we visited the Buddha statue of Hyderabad, the world’s tallest monolith of Gautama Buddha. It is located in Lumbini Park in Hussain Sagar Island. We arrived there in a boat and that was an amazing experience.


Although we were tired after travelling the entire day on Saturday, we decided to visit Ramoji film city on Sunday. We could all say that we did not regret our decision. For me, it was one of the best places that I have visited. As the biggest film city in the world, it did not fail to entertain our visitors. We felt fortunate to witness the props and places where our favourite Indian movies were shot, such as Baahubali and Chennai Express. With a variety of tourist attractions such as the Japanese Garden, Mughal Garden, Sun Fountain Garden, Sanctuary Garden and Angel Fountain, Ramoji film city is worth its glory.

An experience that changed my life

Although it is just two weeks since I arrived in India, it has been a roller coaster ride. I met with different challenges but was able to overcome them. I enjoyed our stay here so far and hope the remaining time here will be better.

Written by

Kawya Chandrasekara

Sub Editor

AIESEC in University of Kelaniya

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iGV, Lifestyle, Membership, News, Travel, Volunteer

AIESEC Global Volunteering: Explore the World

AIESEC is a non-profit organization that operates in over 120 countries and territories, offering global volunteering opportunities for young people. Global volunteering is an opportunity for young people to travel abroad, experience different cultures, and make a positive impact on communities. The AIESEC Global Volunteer program provides an unique opportunity for individuals to participate in community-based projects that focus on social issues such as education, health, and the environment. 

One of the most exciting aspects of AIESEC’s Global Volunteer program is the opportunity to travel and experience new cultures. Volunteers live with host families and are immersed in local cultures, learning about customs, traditions, and ways of life. This allows volunteers to gain a deeper understanding of the communities they are working with and to develop a global mindset.

The exposure Global Volunteers Can Get Through AIESEC

AIESEC’s Global Volunteer program offers a range of community-based projects that focus on social issues such as education, health, and the environment. Volunteers work alongside local organizations and communities to create sustainable solutions to these issues. This provides volunteers with valuable exposure to different cultures and ways of life, as well as the opportunity to make a positive impact on communities.

One of the benefits of AIESEC’s Global Volunteer program is the leadership development opportunities it provides. Volunteers are encouraged to take on leadership roles within their projects and to develop skills such as communication, teamwork, and problem-solving. These skills are valuable both personally and professionally and can help volunteers become more effective leaders in their future careers. In addition to the benefits for volunteers, AIESEC’s Global Volunteer program has a positive impact on the communities it works with. Volunteers work on sustainable projects that address real social issues, and they work alongside local organizations and communities to create long-term solutions. This approach ensures that the impact of the projects is sustainable and that communities are empowered to continue making positive changes after the volunteers have left.

These projects are aligned with the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) and aim to address social issues around the world. In this article, we will discuss the different projects offered by AIESEC’s Global Volunteer program and the SDGs they align with.

Education Projects (SDG 4 – Quality Education)

AIESEC’s education projects focus on providing teaching opportunities for children and young people in communities around the world. These projects are aligned with SDG 4 – Quality Education, which aims to ensure inclusive and equitable quality education and promote lifelong learning opportunities for all. Volunteers work alongside local organizations to provide education and support to students in a variety of settings, including schools, orphanages, and community centers.

Environmental Projects (SDG 13 – Climate Action)

AIESEC’s environmental projects focus on promoting sustainable practices and addressing environmental issues around the world. These projects are aligned with SDG 13 – Climate Action, which aims to take urgent action to combat climate change and its impacts. Volunteers work on projects such as reforestation initiatives, beach clean-up campaigns, and sustainable agriculture projects to promote sustainable practices and raise awareness about the importance of protecting the environment.

Health Projects (SDG 3 – Good Health and Well-being)

AIESEC’s health projects focus on improving access to healthcare and promoting healthy lifestyles in communities around the world. These projects are aligned with SDG 3 – Good Health and Well-being, which aims to ensure healthy lives and promote well-being for all at all ages. Volunteers work alongside local healthcare organizations to provide healthcare services and health education to communities. These projects also focus on raising awareness about the importance of healthy lifestyles and disease prevention.

Social Projects (SDG 10 – Reduced Inequalities)

AIESEC’s social projects focus on addressing social issues and promoting social inclusion around the world. These projects are aligned with SDG 10 – Reduced Inequalities, which aims to reduce inequality within and among countries. Volunteers work alongside local organizations to provide support and resources to marginalized groups, such as refugees, elderly people, and people with disabilities. These projects also focus on promoting social inclusion and raising awareness about social issues.

Business Projects (SDG 8 – Decent Work and Economic Growth)

AIESEC’s business projects focus on promoting entrepreneurship and sustainable economic growth in communities around the world. These projects are aligned with SDG 8 – Decent Work and Economic Growth, which aims to promote sustained, inclusive, and sustainable economic growth, full and productive employment, and decent work for all. Volunteers work alongside local businesses and organizations to provide support and resources to entrepreneurs and promote sustainable economic development. These projects also focus on providing training and resources to help local businesses grow and succeed.

Technology Projects (SDG 9 – Industry, Innovation, and Infrastructure)

AIESEC’s technology projects focus on promoting access to technology and innovative solutions in communities around the world. These projects are aligned with SDG 9 – Industry, Innovation, and Infrastructure, which aims to build resilient infrastructure, promote inclusive and sustainable industrialization, and foster innovation. Volunteers work on projects such as coding and robotics workshops, technology infrastructure development initiatives, and social media marketing campaigns to promote access to technology and raise awareness about the importance of technology in today’s world.

Countries for Cross-Cultural Exchange

The AIESEC Global Volunteer program provides young people with the opportunity to travel to a variety of countries for cross-cultural exchange. Some of the countries that volunteers can visit include:

  1. Brazil
  2. Italy 
  3. India
  4. Indonesia
  5. Kenya
  6. Mexico
  7. Morocco
  8. Peru
  9. South Africa
  10. Vietnam

These countries are diverse in culture and provide volunteers with a unique opportunity to learn about different customs, traditions, and ways of life. Volunteers live with host families and are immersed in local cultures, which allows them to gain a deeper understanding of the communities they are working with.

Life Lessons Learned through Global Volunteering

Global volunteering is a transformative experience that can provide individuals with valuable life lessons. Some of the lessons that can be learned through global volunteering include:

  1. Cultural Understanding: Living with a host family and working alongside local communities provides volunteers with a deep understanding of different cultures, customs, and ways of life.
  2. Empathy: By working on community-based projects, volunteers gain a deeper understanding of the social issues that affect different communities. This helps to develop empathy and compassion for others.
  3. Adaptability: Living and working in a different country requires a high level of adaptability. Volunteers learn to adapt to new environments and develop resilience in the face of challenges.
  4. Leadership: Taking on leadership roles within projects helps volunteers to develop their leadership skills. These skills are valuable both personally and professionally and can help individuals become more effective leaders in their future careers.
  5. Problem Solving: By working on community-based projects, volunteers learn to identify problems and develop solutions. This helps to develop critical thinking and problem-solving skills.

In conclusion, AIESEC’s Global Volunteer program is a unique and valuable opportunity for young people to explore the world, gain new experiences, and make a positive impact on communities. By combining cultural exchange, leadership development, and sustainable project work, AIESEC provides volunteers with a transformative experience that can help them become more globally-minded and effective leaders in their future careers. If you are passionate about making a difference in the world and want to explore new cultures and experiences, AIESEC’s Global Volunteer program may be the perfect opportunity for you.

by Dunali Wanasinghe

Jayewardenepura Showcasing Team

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