All internships will include an orientation to the area and its environmental issues. Interns will also spend time each week reviewing what has been accomplished and setting new goals. Longer internships can also be discussed, and there are internship openings for graduate and doctoral students.
Many projects will depend on the intern’s background and interests related to opportunities related to environmental studies, agro-ecology, anthropology, green architecture, ecologically sensitive business, women’s studies, design, and art. Interns will also do weekend homestays to learn about the local culture and agriculture. As the organization changes and develops, so will the role of the intern. Tasks may vary according to interest and intern initiation, but possible projects include:
- Working with the women’s collective to help them develop sustainable business practices
- Producing a handbook for home gardeners
- Document activities (film, photography, social media, etc)
- Organizing trainings for collective members
- Helping with research projects
- Designing posters, product packaging, brochures, etc.
- Fundraising and grant writing
- Conservation oriented business development
Interns divide their time between Huthina Betta, a homestead and experiential learning center in the village of Karkolli, and the Vanastree office in the nearby city of Sirsi. In addition, interns will conduct field visits with Vanastree members and attend workshops and other events in nearby cities as needed. Interns should be prepared for a significant amount of physical work helping with farming and food prep activities.
Huthina Betta is an effort toward ecologically sensitive living, combining land restoration with agroforestry. It is the home of Sunita Rao, a founding trustee of Vanastree. The homestead comprises nine acres, including a cottage and outbuildings, orchard, and vegetable garden. Most of the land has been reforested, and Sunita is conducting ongoing projects in green architecture and design to make her home as livable and low-impact as possible. Paths running through the property facilitate long, meditative walks, with rest stops overlooking the paddy fields and forest.
Vanastree’s Sirsi office offers a quiet and convenient working environment. Interns will have access to internet here (weather-permitting), although bringing a laptop will be helpful as computer resources are limited. Sirsi is a busy town of over 70,000, and the office is within walking distance of shopping facilities and the main bus stops. From there, connections to Bangalore (10 hours), Goa (five hours), and other cities are easy to make.
Filled with laughter, color, serenity, tempting aromas, beautiful forests, and sobering experiences, life in the village communities of Uttara Kannada provides excellent opportunities to learn about the fragility and durability of life, human relationships with the earth and, simply, what life is like in a certain part of rural India. These are lessons that supplement academic studies well but cannot be replicated in a classroom.