First impressions on arriving at Raphael after 4 months of being on the road (one of which was spent travelling through northern India) were a breath of fresh air. The grounds were quiet, kids adorable and company of fellow volunteers great. I had arrived after a very frustrating time attempting not only to find the bus to Dehradun but also the correct bus station. I was sent here and there and finally found the station and bus. It was a long ride after an exhausting and frustrating search and something I wouldn’t recommend to anyone else.
My first day at school ended up being the Thursday as I was ill for 4 days on arrival. I was greeted by the children who were desperate to say hello or “Namaste” and to touch me. At first this was rather confronting however it is surprising how quickly you can adapt to new surroundings. After Minnie showed me around the school and introduced me to the teachers I was shown to my class LKG with Luxmi. Meeting the kids and getting used to the class was a great learning experience. It took about 2 weeks to settle into the various classes held during the day and, more importantly, to gain authority over the class.
Outside school exploring Dehradun was great also. The restaurants, bookshops and countless sweet shops gave me great joy. It was always a great feeling of heading back “home” to Raphael where there was no honking of horns and beautiful open surroundings. We also took many trips out of Dehradun to visit surrounding areas such as Mussoorie, Haridwar and Rishikesh. This was always a fantastic experience.
My only complaint would be that I seemed to blink my eyes and my time was over. It seemed like just yesterday that I walked in with my backpack on, not knowing what to expect next and it seems like I will now leave in the same way.
Overall my experience at Raphael has been utterly life changing. The people I have met along the way have been what has made my time special and unique and I have every intention in the world of returning one day in the future. Thank you everyone for everything. Until next Time.