Victoria University students are helping empower rural communities in southern India as part of a month-long social enterprise internship.
About 15 VU students from all areas of study including law, sport, community development, and business, are now in India, working with teams of other university students as part of the Australian social business, 40K Globe.
Their projects are designed to respond to needs of the local community, and range from water safety to microbusiness opportunities for women.
Participants, known as ‘Globers,’ say they learn as much about themselves as the villages they stay in during their placement.
Lindsey Meldrum, a recent Bachelor of Business graduate and the first VU student to join the program last year, helped local women in the village of Marenahalli near Bangalore to sell hand-made candles to large hotels in India.
“It was a huge learning experience to find new ways of working when electricity was limited and meetings were held at markets,” she said.
The projects are created as sustainable ventures so new sets of students can take over from where the last set left off.
A pre-departure induction in Australia helps manage expectations about living conditions, which include squat toilets, bucket showers and shared accommodation, she said.
VU’s Victoria Abroad area has secured funding from the federal government’s New Colombo Plan to cover partial costs for VU undergraduate and postgraduate students to participate in the 40K program until mid-2017. The program will run four times in 2016: January, February, July and December.
Victoria Abroad manager Margaret Jackson said the 40K project can be life-changing for the students who participate as well as the local communities they serve.
“Any overseas experience helps students grow personally, distinguishes them from other graduates, and improves their employability,” she said.
Victoria University offers more than 100 exchange agreements and internships in some 30 countries where students can learn and live life a local.
Ann Marie Angebrandt: 03 9919 5487, 0401 100 576, [email protected]