Before I get into my experience at RV, I want to share a little bit about me. I am Riya and I was born and raised in Northern Virginia. Virginia is most recognized for being near the capital of the US, but if any of you have the chance to visit, I promise there is way more to Virginia than just Washington D.C.
In October 2018, my mom came to me with what she said would be a “fun” summer internship. Off the bat I knew that had to be a lie because internship and fun are never used in the same sentence. But when she proposed the the details, I have to admit, it sounded really interesting. I had visited Rishi Valley once before and I knew it had a beautiful campus and I have always wanted to go to boarding school. I filled out the application, talked to the previous years’ intern and after a lot of anticipation, I arrived at Rishi Valley on July 4th, 2019. I spent the following 3.5 weeks at RV and what follows is my reflection of the whole experience:
This internship was organized by Rishi Valley Alumni Association (RiVAA). This program officially started in 2018 with the very first intern. Each intern chooses a pathway they would like to explore within the options provided by the program. I chose to work with the
Rural Education Center (REC). When we arrived at REC I got to observe the “Multi Grade Multi Level System” and found it new and interesting, since I’ve only seen classes taught by grade. My project was to teach English to 1st and 2nd graders at REC. I also helped the teachers by making picture books (in pdf format), borrowed some books from the Junior School Library and Prep School, read stories to the 1st graders, correcting workbooks, and even just singing and playing with them. I love kids, so getting to work with them for a month was a dream come true.
Now about my stay at RV. I’m sure you understand how it feels to have to do work in your time off from school, but this internship didn’t feel like work at all. To be honest, I wasn’t expecting to have nearly as much fun as I did. Adjusting to new people and a completely different environment from back home was really hard at the beginning. I thought I would never get used to life at Rishi Valley. Co-founder of this program and former student Chatura Akka introduced me to some students and got me accustomed. After a few days of getting to know the students, I felt at home in Rishi Valley.
Over the weeks, I learned about a lot of RV traditions and I got to enjoy almost all of them. First experience that comes to mind has to be folky. Sunday evening folky was so so much fun. It is quite different from dances back home because people actually dance at folky. Plus it was cool to see dances of different cultures. Another tradition I loved was the Saturday night movie. I’ve been to the movies with my friends before but it just felt more special to watch one with the whole school. Only thing I needed was popcorn, so someone start a petition to allow food. I also got the opportunity to go on a hike to Meditation Point which had an amazing view of the whole campus and the mountains that Rishi Valley is named after.
Out of all the experiences I had, the most fun was during games time. To be completely honest, I kind of hated having to go and be active when I could just sleep but the more I went, the more fun it was. I pretty much stuck to walking around, watching badminton and playing badminton a few times, terribly. Games time at RV is way better than what my school has. To have this free time every day to play or just walk around with friends is not something that is built into our schedules in Virginia. The only free time we get to talk to our friends is 30 min lunch break which ends up being mostly standing in line for food and eating.
There are quite a few differences between life at RV and life in American public schools. The biggest difference being that we certainly have more access to the electronics and online world, both in school and out. It might feel like students in America get more freedom, but in reality, we do not get half the amount of trust and liberty at school that kids at RV have. No joke, two people can’t ask to go to the bathroom at the same time without the teacher getting suspicious.
Jokes aside, Rishi Valley has so much more to offer than any regular school does. The values, the environment, and campus are all things I miss already. And I don’t think you could make as many lifelong friends anywhere else.
Like I said earlier, I didn’t expect to make as many wonderful memories in the three and a half weeks I spent at RV, but I did and I am so thankful that I had this experience. I want to give a shoutout to all the people who made my stay 10 times better by bringing me along to folky, dinner, games, and basically everything. A huge thank you to all the teachers I had the pleasure of working with and
those who guided me in this process. I have learned a great deal from the short time I was at Rishi Valley.
I know I’m not some wise old person with years of advice, but I do know how it feels to leave RV and realize how many great memories I made and how much fun it truly was. My mom kept telling me how she didn’t appreciate all the things while she was going here until she left but she also says a lot of things so I wasn’t really listening. (Sorry, mom). Now I get what she means. At first I complained about having to spend half of my summer with people I didn’t know. I almost took this opportunity for granted, I spent a lot of time wishing I was back home with my family and friends. What didn’t hit me until I started writing this is how much I miss it and how grateful I am for the countless memories I have made, and I will never forget. I will certainly go back to visit RV and REC when I visit India next.