An Interview with Country Manager Stephen Raja



India Country Manager Stephen Raja Chinnappan
What is your perspective on the Global Volunteers organization in your community?
Over 13 years of service to the community, I fully believe short-term volunteers have had a huge positive impact on each of our community partners. Especially for the children, Global Volunteers are a motivational and encouraging factor for them to grow up as good citizens of tomorrow.
How is Global Volunteers different from other volunteering opportunities? 
In India, other volunteer organizations mostly focus on cultural events or free-time activities, with just a small portion of their time devoted to the service of the community. But we at Global Volunteers stand apart as an organization which is committed to the development of the community where our major contribution is serving the community in a sustainable way.
How can volunteers make a significant impact on community projects?
Some of our community partners would have not existed or achieved what they are now, if not for Global Volunteers. This change may not be obvious to short-term volunteers during their service program. But as a Country Manager for the past 13 years, I have seen a huge positive change in our community. So the continued flow of volunteers will continue to help, achieve the collective goals of our community partners to serve the at-risk children in our community.
What do you like volunteers to know about your community before they arrive?
Our children love  volunteers, and they look forward to each and every team of volunteers. The volunteers are the Joy and Happiness for our children. Moreover, we provide the perfect opportunity for the volunteers to mingle with the local people, live in the community and learn our way of life, culture, religions, beliefs, customs, etc. much more then any tourist can.
What is unique about the India Service Program?
The uniqueness of our service program is that the volunteers get to live in the community, experience and learn about the culture and the people from a genuine perspective – if even for a short time.  India is unique in so many ways – our music, food, art and traditions can’t be found anywhere else in the world.
What do volunteers most often say they learn about volunteering with local people?
The volunteers most often say that they received a lot more than what they gave to the local people. People are very friendly and smiling even though they live with poverty and hardship around them.
How does this service opportunity expand volunteers’ perspective of the world?
This service opportunity provides volunteers with a first-hand and close-up view of what life is in Chennai, India. They can be sure that they have made a positive contribution to the underprivileged children we care for and teach. Volunteering creates a better understanding of each other’s cultures to make this world a peaceful and better place to live in. I feel really proud to be part of this wonderful organization and I believe that in the past 30 years we have served thousands of children around the world and I also believe in the years to come we would serve hundreds of thousands of children.
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