ICO Workshop in Delhi

Corey writes:

As Gina mentioned, I was in Delhi this week for a workshop to improve the training that new VSO volunteers receive in India. This is a followup to the training I went to in Nainital in May. The goals for the workshop were to:

  1. Write the plans for three new sessions that will be added to the training in November. The new sessions are Environment & Sustainable Development, Participatory Approaches, and Effective Negotiation Skills.
  2. Review the existing training sessions to make them more participatory and update them to the VSO International standards

I left Koraput together with Gina on Friday night by train and arrived at Bhubaneswar on Saturday morning at 9:00am. I spent the next twenty minutes wrangling with a problem that I've had many times in India: making change.

Our salary typically comes in 500 and 1000 rupee notes, and sometimes we run out of smaller bills. There is some etiquette around making change that I've picked up on here. For example, you wouldn't buy a 5 rupee chai and hand the vendor a 500. Like people roll their eyes when you buy a 25 cent pack of gum with a credit card in the US. This means I essentially had to hunt for something that cost Rs 100 or more, so I could break a 500. Another interesting money event is when you hand a vendor a bill, they look at it, frown, and give it back to you. People will actually refuse to take your money if it has a small tear, or is about to tear in any place, or if it is old and dirty. So far I'm stuck with about 100 rupees in bills that no one will take. I asked a friend for advice about what to do, and he said to find another sucker to pass them along to.

So, back to my journey. I left Bhuba around noon on Saturday and arrived in Delhi around 11am on Sunday. I hung out with Andy, a fellow volunteer, and we went to Brooke's (another vol) place in the evening. I was promised a half-goat would be delivered for dinner. We were joined by several friends, including vols Lucy and Rohan. However, the half-goat turned out to be just a whole leg.

The next day we started the workshop, and pored through objective 1 and most of objective 2. When we went to leave at the end of the day, the road in front of the building was flooded about two feet high. Delhi's been getting hit with a lot of rain this season! Luckily we were taking the shiny brand new Delhi Metro system. It was quite a change from our normal commute in Koraput.

That night Andy made an awesome pork stir fry. I hadn't had pork in 10 months, so it really hit the spot. The next day we wrapped up the workshop early and hit up Nehru Place. This is a huge computer and electronics market in Delhi. It's like Disneyland for a computer geek like me.

After that we went to Mary's place (another vol) for dinner and drinks. After a great chat, it was time to go home and pack. I woke up at 5am the next morning and hit the road, forgetting one my most important purchases in Delhi: cheese. $20 worth. Luckily our Programme Manager is visiting us in Koraput in a couple weeks, so she can bring it with her.

After a quick 52 hours, six rickshaw rides, and two train rides, I was back home again. Gina had pancakes and coffee waiting for me, what a lady!