Volunteering in Germany: from the Indian Ministry of Education to a German school


Place of assignment: Lüchow, Germany

Organisation: Kurve Wustrow

Utsarga Mondal, a 26-year-old from India, is passionate about education. He studied education at university before going on to help the Indian Ministry of Education implement a variety of programmes related to national education policy. Now he is learning about the German education system at the Freie Schule Wendland as a weltwärts volunteer.


I chose to volunteer in Germany because I wanted first-hand experience of the German education system and the dual vocational education system for which Germany is known. I had already been working and undertaking research in this field for some years in India. Aside from this, I had always wanted to travel around Europe, experience different cultures and experience the changing of the seasons.

Introducing myself to the parent’s community at Freieschule Wendland in the early days upon my arrival to Germany

Expect the unexpected

I heard about weltwärts from a volunteer who was serving in India. The programme looked interesting, and I applied in 2020. Even though I was accepted, I was unable to travel due to the pandemic. In June 2022, I got a phone call out of the blue. The volunteer who had applied for the Freie Schule Wendland was unable to travel for health reasons and my application from 2020 was still on file. At first, I was doubtful whether I would get my visa in time. But I was in luck. My visa application was processed within 10 days and I arrived in Germany on 20 August.

I spent the first few days getting used to my new environment, like the long daylight hours in the summer evenings, the large amounts of bread and salad eaten with meals and my host family’s very different way of life. A two-week intensive language course helped me to refresh my knowledge of German. I joined in with lots of different activities with my host family and found out that horse riding is a popular hobby amongst children in Wendland. I made my first solo trip to the beautiful city of Lüneburg thanks to the €9 ticket scheme.

Reverse Group Meet up at the Pre-Departure Seminar in India.

New methods of teaching

The Freie Schule Wendland is a private school that bases its teaching on individual pupils’ development potential and uses alternative teaching and learning concepts to enable pupils to determine their own learning path. In the first school semester, I shadowed teachers to gain an understanding of the school’s teaching and learning methods. I joined in with school trips and celebrations and taught the children a little bit about the history, culture and diversity of India. This enabled me to establish a positive relationship with the children.

I also attended a national meeting of German free schools in Halle, where I learned about innovative teaching methods, networked with other teachers and took part in a number of workshops.

In the second school semester, I played a bigger role in the teaching activities and delivered a variety of teaching units to children in the Mittelstufe age group (ages 12 to 15). In the science subjects, I worked on the topics of air, water, light and magnetism. I got the children to carry out scientific experiments largely independently in order to spark their enthusiasm for the sciences.

The PE lessons involved juggling, skipping and target practice in pairs or small groups to develop teamwork skills, strategic thinking, strength, endurance, coordination and balance.

Watching the children, I noticed that they were typing using only two fingers, so I started a ten-fingered typing club to help them to develop their skills. It is normal for children to find it challenging to type using all ten fingers but I am sure they will appreciate the benefits.

As part of a project about Egypt, and in preparation for the Christmas festivities, we also took part in a variety of craft activities such as woodworking, painting and working with clay.

Seminar at Muhlhausen alongside volunteers from another organisation.

Insight into the dual vocational education system

In my free time, I visited vocational schools in Luchow to familiarise myself with the German vocational education system. I discussed the theoretical and practical aspects of education with a number of teachers and learned about the topic independently. I am fascinated by the dual vocational education system and hope to be able to work with a German institution in the future to learn more about it. I would like to implement this system in India as an antidote to the growing number of unqualified workers.

Travelling on a tight budget

Travelling has always been one of my favourite things to do. Meeting people from different cultures allows me to broaden my horizons and learn about other ways of life. I had travelled extensively around India and now I was ready to explore Europe. I took the opportunity to visit Germany’s neighbouring countries. On a budget like mine, this was not exactly easy. But, after coming across the Couchsurfing website, I was able to visit the majority of Germany’s major cities and other countries. Couchsurfing had an additional advantage, however: not only was it cheap, it also gave me an insight into the local culture and cuisine.

Meeting people from different cultures allows me to broaden my horizons and learn about other ways of life.

At the start of the second semester, I moved to Satemin, an example of a type of circular village unique to northern Germany called a Rundling, and which is considered one of the most beautiful villages in Wendland. In Satemin, I stayed with the former editor-in-chief of the Berliner Zeitung Brigitte Fehrle and photo journalist Andreas Schoelzel. The many conversations we shared over meals, from which I learned so much, made this a very special experience. My time in Germany was a wonderful cultural exchange and has greatly enriched my personal development. I am very grateful to have had this opportunity.