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As Lancaster continues to develop relations with GD Goenka World Institute, LUSU Involve have launched a programme creating relationships and opportunities for students. A group of Lancaster students on the Partnership for Positive Change initiative spent three weeks in Goenka in September 2010, meeting students involved in the Institute’s Corporate Social Responsibility Society. These students volunteer in their local community, helping with the education of local children.
Politics undergraduate Oliver Trumble was part of the Lancaster delegation, and described the work of the Goenka volunteers, who worked with a local school of one-hundred-and-twenty six children and only a single teacher. “It was an unbelievable experience getting to know the children […] who were there and turned up to school every day even though they weren’t guaranteed to be taught due to them only having one teacher,” he said.
Whilst in India the group shadowed volunteers. Trumble visited “a number of slums where we taught women how to make candles and decorative products so that they could sell them to make money. We also visited old people who had been left or abandoned by their families and were struggling to create their own community.”
The hope is that this project will continue to prosper, allowing for further trips in the future. Whilst in India, the Involve group were in negotiations with a number of multinational companies in order to acquire investment for the Corporate Social Responsibility project.
Trumble emphasised the importance of this, seeing it as a great opportunity for students of both institutions. “The visit has resulted in us hoping to launch projects which will enable large numbers of Lancaster University students to travel to India and also our Malaysia campus to volunteer and inspire them to become empathetic leaders of the future,” he said. “I feel that this project will be second to none in giving the fortunate students who take part in it an edge that other skills they adopt at university do not provide for.”
A group of Goenka students made the return trip to Britain in January 2011, spending time in London as well as Lancaster. Whilst in Britain they visited Parliament and gave a presentation to the UK Business Council.
“I think we have the potential to change lives,” said Pearl Dhingra, one of the Indian students. “Already we have done things like set up free health checks for villagers who are living in or close to poverty, screening them for common diseases.”