Name: Aditya Patibandla
Hometown: Johns Creek, Georgia
Nationality: United States
Languages spoken: English and Spanish (fluent)
School: Northview High School
Past travel experience: Avid
Volunteer Abroad: Teaching Elementary and Middle School in Delhi, India
Duration: 2 weeks
Start month: July 2015
Claim to fame: Aditya developed a website for the community school in India where he volunteered. UBELONG Volunteers are the best in the world!
Why did you decide to become a UBELONG Volunteer?
I decided to become a part of the UBELONG experience because of their proven commitment to a truly culturally immersive, impactful and rewarding volunteer abroad experience. UBELONG has a great team running the show, and their tireless dedication, assistance, and support truly made me feel like UBELONG was a league above the rest of the other volunteer abroad providers out there. Moreover, after considering the bare minimum prices, the great variety in projects and project locations, and the flexibility with scheduling, UBELONG most certainly separates itself from the rest of its “competitors”. My service experience made me realize the how passionate UBELONG was about participating in service in unfortunate yet breathtaking and eye-opening environments. From the quality of my volunteer project and the personal contributions I was able to make, to the fantastic host family housing and the unforgettable children, the UBELONG experience was one of the best choices I’ve ever made.
What was your funniest moment?
My funniest moment was actually on my first day volunteering at the school facility. I’m not very polished in Hindi, and consequently I often required the help of a translator to effectively communicate with the kids. The first day I walked in to the 4th grade Boys class, I saw that there were close to 30 kids in a room about the size of my high school’s storage closets. I slowly began observing my surroundings as I prepared the first English lesson. I saw rats jumping through the classroom right in front of the students, the room itself felt like a sauna to me thanks to the killer humidity and lack of air conditioning, and the pencils and books the children used looked like they’d been zapped with a shrink ray.
I must’ve looked completely astonished as I observed all this, because one of the children, with the help of the translator, began to interrogate me. He asked me skeptically if I was actually Indian, and when I replied yes, he asked me if this was my first time in India. When I replied yes to that too, he asked, “So you definitely visited the Taj Mahal, saw the famous temples, and watched many Bollywood movies right?” Once more, I replied with a nod. He laughed and said that foreigners shouldn’t be so interested in the flashy royalties of India, but instead should come visit the “real” India and its “real” people. He went on to say that despite my previous visits to India, he believed that this was my first actual visit to India and that it would be my favorite and most unforgettable visit too. He was totally right, and it was a truly unexpected, insightful and funny encounter.
In a sentence or less, how would you sum up your experience?
India (especially Delhi) is a very diverse, crowded yet unique environment in which everyone shares a few common traits that are governed by tradition: respect, enthusiasm, and hospitality.