How long have you been in India?
I have been in India for almost ten years now, on and off. I feel quite at home here now, and I love it!
What brought you to India?
I had come to India originally for work and almost immediately, I met my future husband in Delhi. Since then, we have mostly been based here and we now have two children – Rohan, who is two years old, and Priya, who is ten months.
What do you love most about being here?
I really like the people, and find people in India to be mostly very friendly. I have been very lucky in making good friends in this city and have always had a great support network here. I also love the food (of course!) and I like that Delhi has everything to offer – you can experience history and culture in Old Delhi, but then also watch the latest film at the cinema or eat any type of cuisine.
Are there any great moments that particularly stand out for you?
My best moments have probably been whilst I’ve been travelling around the country for work. I’ve had the opportunity to work with some amazing NGOs and visit communities that are completely off the beaten track. The hospitality and welcome I’ve received in villages has been incredible and I have especially loved the opportunities to engage and interact with children through my work.
And of course, my greatest moments have been having my two children! Both were born here in Delhi.
What have been your greatest integration challenges?
I haven’t found too many challenges in terms of integration as everyone has been very welcoming. My biggest challenge has probably been learning Hindi! I’ve been trying so hard to improve my Hindi for years and though I understand quite a bit, I still find it quite a challenge to speak. Making the effort definitely pays off though as everyone I meet – autowallahs, shopkeepers etc. – are so happy to hear me try!
Have there been any individuals or organisations who particularly helped with your move and integration?
There are a couple of yahoo groups that I use – such as yuni-net and Delhi babies – which have been a huge help. People use them to network, make recommendations for doctors, dentists, where to buys things etc. and I’ve met many very nice Indians and foreigners through these groups, as well as receiving a lot of practical help and advice.
Have you joined any networking groups?
No, I haven’t. Only the Yahoo groups above.
Do you have any practical tips for ex-pats moving to India about how to integrate or deal with cultural differences?
I would definitely recommend for people to learn some Hindi – even if it’s just the basics – as that will help with getting around and I find people treat you differently if you try to speak some! Many of the NGOs in Delhi are always looking for volunteers, even if it’s just for a couple of hours a week or at the weekend. This can be a really rewarding experience and allows you to meet many interesting people and see another side to life in the city.
What does the future hold for you?
Right now, I am settled in Delhi, and I’ve just started a new job with GoPhilanthropic Foundation so I’m excited about the future. We currently have partnerships with four amazing NGOs in India, doing incredible work with women and children, and I’m looking forward to learning with these organisations and exploring what I can do to help support them. We’re also always on the look-out for other small organisations that are making a big impact to partner with, so I’ll be focusing on that over the coming year. My husband is in the process of setting up his own company here and my son has just started pre-school so this is a busy but exciting time for us!
Emily has over 15 years experience of working in the non-profit sector on a number of issues, including child rights, disaster risk reduction, business and human rights and the link between natural resources, conflict and corruption. She has a wide range of international experience, having worked extensively across India and also the Democratic Republic of Congo, as well as undertaking field work in many countries including Bangladesh, Rwanda, Zambia, Mozambique, Ethiopia, Kazakhstan, Kenya and South Africa.
Her key competencies include research, report writing, policy work, advocacy and campaigning, project planning and M&E, internal and external communications and inter-agency coordination. She has worked for numerous NGOs as well as for UNICEF in both Geneva and New Delhi.