Future Volunteer Interview: Rainu Ittycheriah (Lumos Student Travel Award Winner) - Thailand Teaching
We spoke to future Frontier volunteer Rainu Ittycheriah, who successfully applied for the Lumos Student Travel Award Programme. Rainu will be heading out to Thailand to work on two of Frontier's teaching projects during August and September. We found out what the application process involved and why she can't wait to get out there. Rainu will be blogging about her adventure via Lumos as well as her personal site.
Into the Wild: What made you apply for the award and was it a difficult process?
Rainu: I applied for the Lumos Award because I knew someone who had received a Lumos Award the previous year. Last fall, I had applied to teach in Malaysia through a Fulbright, but I was declined. In looking for other options, Lumos and the opportunity that it offered me to complete my project was the best fit.
The Lumos application was a very difficult process. Normally, candidates are recommended to allow at least 2-4 months for preparing their application. I only knew about the details of the process 28 days before the application was due. The night that I decided I would apply, I spent the night researching organizations until 2 am. I found Frontier through the organizations listed in the back of the Lumos application. Between the TEFL certificate and the location, Teaching and Beaches in Thailand was the best fit for my interests. Next, I wrote a twenty page proposal for the consideration of the Lumos Committee. I was approved for a group interview two weeks after. Next, I spent a month wondering whether or not would receive the Lumos Award. After much thought and consideration, I was informed that I received the Award. It was one of the best moments of my life by far.
Into the Wild: What made you choose the Thailand teaching projects?
Rainu: I want to go to graduate school for English and specialize in post-colonial studies. A major part of understanding post-colonial theory is understanding other cultures. I always felt that experience and knowledge go hand-in-hand, thus I wanted to teach abroad before becoming a teaching assistant in graduate school. Teaching literature seems too much like teaching life, virtue, and character, and I thought that having more experience abroad would help me be a better teacher. To prepare for teaching abroad, I took up an internship as a teaching assistant following my mentor in her First Year Writing class. My interests in teaching go back to my very first job as a math tutor. In addition, I was often that friend people came to with questions about equations in high school and college.
Taken on Frontier's Thailand Tropical Island Teaching and Beaches project
Into the Wild: Were you planning any other fundraising ideas or projects to fund your trip? If so, what were you planning?
Rainu: My other fundraising ideas all had to do with various odd jobs and possible awards I could have received. The Lumos Award was truly my best and first idea of raising money for the project.
Into the Wild: Would you recommend other Frontier volunteers apply for similar grants or fundraising opportunities?
Rainu: Yes, I think that going with these kinds of awards adds to the experience of your project. In addition to Frontier, I represent my university, Belmont University, and the Lumos Award. These awards are hard to get, but they also come with honour.
Into the Wild: In your experience, are fundraising opportunities easy or hard to come by?
Rainu: Fundraising is never easy. I worked in the development department at my university and saw how hard it is even for well-informed and powerful people to raise funds. Doing the research and making your applications wisely are the first priority.
Into the Wild: Are you looking forward to your Frontier projects in Thailand?
Rainu: I am ecstatic about my project in Thailand! I began buying items for the trip a few weeks ago and it makes me so excited every time a new one arrives in the mail. I am looking forward to making a difference in their lives and for the difference they will make in mine.
To find out more about Frontier's Rural Teaching and Tropical Island Teaching and Beaches projects please visit the Frontier website, where you'll also find useful information on fundraising ideas for your own gap year.
Questions by Dana Beltaji