A FORMER Solihull Sixth Form student has recently returned from a volunteer project in India where she helped set up a school in a gypsy community.
Jessica Smith was one of six students sharing £2,800 worth of bursaries last year with the money coming from the Terry Kitson Award.
The 19-year-old had to impress a panel of judges to acquire the funds and she proved successful with a presentation about voluntary work she was planning to undertake in the UK, Romania and India.
The former Ninestiles School student’s biggest project was a two-month trip to Rajasthan in India, where she worked with a local volunteer group.
Her contribution involved helping out in a government-run school, teaching the children English, helping to set up the school and educating disadvantaged children about health and hygiene.
“It was a great experience,” said the teenager from Moseley.
“It was tough at times, because you are trying to engage with kids who have never been to school before and don’t know how to behave in that environment.
“You feel like you are doing something that really makes an impact on their lives, so it’s really rewarding.”
During her trip to India she visited the Taj Mahal, and also took part on a camel safari.
And as if that wasn’t enough Jessica then spent a month in Romania where she worked in a day centre for orphans with special needs, helping vulnerable children and young adults.
“Most of the people there could not speak Romanian, never mind English, so it was very challenging trying to interact with them.”