ETASHA Trainee Goes to Slovenia

Himanshu Shukla
Himanshu Shukla

By R. Nithya

Himanshu Shukla, 20, remembers hanging out with his friend on an afternoon when he received a phone call from ETASHA Society. It had been a few months since he finished the program on Customer Service and Work Culture (CSWC) from ETASHA’s Career Development Centre in Tigri (south Delhi), so the call was a bit of a surprise. The bigger surprise, however, was being offered to go to Slovenia as a volunteer.

ETASHA Society partners with Zavod Voluntariat – a not-for-profit organization in Ljublijana, Slovenia – to host and organize a volunteer exchange program. Under this program, Himanshu is the first volunteer selected by ETASHA to go to Slovenia.

Meenakshi Nayar, President ETASHA Society, was impressed by Himanshu’s efforts to fundraise for his registration fee during the Airtel Delhi Half Marathon in 2013 – the year when ETASHA trainees were first asked to fundraise to pay for their 6 KM run registration. The idea behind this was to build independence and social confidence in the trainees as well as to push them into social interactions that demand convincing the other person.

Himanshu was the first trainee who took on the task of fundraising for himself and confidently walked into the main office of ETASHA, and convinced ETASHA Faculty to support his run registration cost. Needless to say, he successfully fundraised that year.

“Himanshu is an interesting combination of simplicity, charm, audacity and self-confidence,” Meenakshi Nayar says about Himanashu. “This is what convinced me that he could take on this very daunting task of going to a country whose language he doesn’t know, and that he could learn and grow from that experience,” she says.

Himanshu’s immediate reaction to the opportunity of volunteering abroad was placing the call on hold, quickly consulting with his friend who was next to him, and then jumping at the offer with a ‘yes!’

But he didn’t tell his family about this opportunity until he got himself familiar with the volunteering program. And when he finally did tell his family, “they thought it was an opportunity too good to be true,” he says. As the process of the travel arrangements began, the surreal opportunity seemed to take a more concrete shape for his family.

Unfortunately, for months since then, Himanshu’s chances of going to Slovenia met with an unmanageable array of failures: unavailability of travel documents, bureaucratic barriers, and contradictory visa information from different sources. During this period of delay, Himanshu volunteered with ETASHA and helped in organizing events, and in setting up ETASHA’s new centre in Gurgaon as well as mobilizing the local communities there.

The delay in his first overseas travel taught him a lot of patience – something, he says, has made him more positive now. “Sometimes I feel I’ll get a call at the last minute and they’ll tell me I still have some documents missing. But I don’t see myself getting demotivated,” he says. “If I get such a call, I’ll ask them for the next possible travel dates.”

While his volunteering assignments will be decided after his on-arrival orientation program once he reaches Slovenia, he already has assigned himself three tasks. First, he wants to interact with as many people as he can irrespective of the language barrier. “If I don’t manage to do this, then I’ll consider my trip and my time in Slovenia as failed,” he says. He also wants to learn as much as possible without thinking much about what kind or level of work he will be assigned. And lastly, “Like they say, when in Rome, do as the Romans do. I want to experience a new culture and enjoy myself, but without compromising on my personal principles,” he says.

Himanshu has already learned few Slovene words and has spent time with current Slovene volunteers at ETASHA to learn more about their country and culture, and the things he would need to survive there.

Slovene volunteer at ETASHA Society Natalija Zdešar (EVS 2015) guiding Himanshu Shukla on his six-month stay in Slovenia during the volunteering exchange program between ETASHA Society and Zavod Voluntariat.
Slovene volunteer at ETASHA Society Natalija Zdešar (EVS 2015) guiding Himanshu Shukla on his six-month stay in Slovenia as part of the volunteer exchange program between ETASHA Society and Zavod Voluntariat.

All empowered with the skills he learnt at ETASHA, with loads of confidence and positivity, with half a dozen jackets to brave the Slovenian cold, and with the Slovene visa stamped on his passport, Himanshu landed in Slovenia last night. We wish him good luck on his experience there!

About the author – R. Nithya is Communications Coordinator at ETASHA Society.