Bangalore: “Travel changes you. As you move through this life and this world, you change things slightly; you leave marks behind, however small.” Anthony Bourdain’s words echo through the actions of Leave UR Mark, a Bengaluru based social enterprise founded by Bengalureans Prachi Jain and Amit Agarwal. Through this, they host interns and volunteers from around the world.
Interns from across the globe scurry around their guest house in Malleswaram. While some are working in organisations that interest them, others are happy to simply volunteer. “The goal is to blur cultural boundaries through internship exchanges,” explains Prachi Jain, cofounder of Leave UR Mark, who works out of New York. This organisation provides career-enhancing projects in India’s booming economy for international students to make travel a little less touristy. “Psycho therapy, autism, water conservation, organic living and micro finance are the most sought out projects,” says Amit Agarwal, Prachi’s cofounder and counterpart in India.
Being inspired by the culture and need for growth in India, Prachi and Amit decided to start this venture in 2010. “We saw that local organisations needed assistance on projects that never really took off because of lack of people, ideas and energy,” says Prachi, about deciding to bring fresh perspective. As challenging as it may seem, they ensure their interns are taken care of. “We oversee everything from pre-departure support, visas, housing and health, to safety, food, cultural activities and training,” says Prachi.
Recently, a troupe of ballet dancers from this internship programme decided to collaborate with Odissi dancers from the city in what culminated in a thrilling fusion performance at Opus. “We got to explore the similarities and uniqueness of the dance forms and it was a beautiful celebration,” says Meghna Das, an Odissi dancer.
A group of interns are currently working with the Water Literacy Foundation. “We work on improving water technology and empowering farmers to safeguard water as well as educate the public about easily implantable water solutions,” says Sandra, one of the interns from Sydney. Next week, these interns are looking forward to pitch in at a medical camp for runaway kids in the city. “We are also having a little pizza party for the kids afterward,” says Bella Vallender, a coordinator with Leave UR Mark.
For now, they are all set to do some travelling and are looking forward to unwind at Gokarna....