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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