In India

Cooking to empower

Alex (SPAIN)

I love cooking. It relaxes me while it drives my creativity. The pleasure of having family and friends over and cooking dishes with and for them is a feeling you can’t beat.

Never would I’ve imagined my first volunteering experience in India was going to be behind the stove! But the opportunity presented itself and I decided not to let it go.

Cooking with young people from the most underprivileged communities in Kolkata was one of the most incredible experiences in my life!

When I travel, the first criteria I consider before choosing the country is the human quality of its people; and cooking is something that revolves around people, their culture and way of being.

Food has the power to bring people together worldwide. Regardless purchasing power, culture, country or religion people gather to eat, share and experiment. During my volunteering experience, in addition to eating, we cooked together every day. It was a very special and effective way of sharing experiences of one’s own culture and learning from others.

Sharing my skills of cooking and teaching nutrition and hygiene classes for the young people of the NGO was a great challenge for me since I had never done anything like this but above all it was an exciting opportunity.

I loved guiding them and coordinating the workshop so that each of the members was involved, learning and sharing impressions.

Above all, I loved seeing how they were interested in learning and understanding each recipe, how they coordinated with each other and how they put enthusiasm in every recipe we prepared. We also had a blast trying to pronounce the names of the Spanish dishes correctly!

It is fascinating to see how young people coming from communities with such a scarcity of resources and challenging environments have the ability to successfully perform relevant skills as team spirit, creativity and attention to detail… We, westerners, have a lot to learn from them!

The whole experience inspired me to step outside of my comfort zone and learn from those traits too. It was an excellent way of collaborating with a good cause while all along a cultural exchange was taking place making it a great learning experience.