Mischa (right), 2011-2012 Program Assistant

Consider returning to India as a South India Term Abroad program assistant. Program assistants are a critical part of the SITA Program, as they help students adjust to cultural life in Madurai and South India. The position, open to SITA alumni, can be a great way to return to India and build your professional resume. You will gain experience in peer counseling, non-profit administration, intercultural teamwork, networking, and event planning. You will have the opportunity to develop your leadership skills, continue Tamil language training, and have an extended independent living experience in India. The South India Term Abroad Program Assistant position will give you widely sought-after professional skills and international experience and enable you to stand out as an adventurous, self-motivated, and unique individual!

PA Position Mission Statement
There’s no doubt that program assistants are an invaluable resource to SITA students and improve the quality of the SITA program overall. But South India Term Abroad also seeks to make the PA experience as positive as possible for participants. Our mission for the program assistant position is outlined below.

  •  We intend for the SITA program assistant position to be a career development opportunity.
  •  We intend to both support and challenge SITA alumni through the program assistant position.
  •  We intend for the SITA program assistant position to be a personally enriching and enjoyable post-graduation experience for our alumni.


Applications & Deadlines
For full consideration, please meet the following application deadlines for currently open positions:

Academic Year 2015-2016 Program Assistant Position (August 2015 – April 2016): March 2, 2015

Program assistants are typically (but not always) hired for two semesters, with the option of extending beyond that into a third semester. Program assistants arrive in Madurai 1 week before students leave to settle into their apartment, regain familiarity with Madurai, and participate in a PA orientation with the resident director and other SITA staff. Their responsibilities for the semester end 1 week after the semester’s farewell tea. Program dates for PAs will be posted here as soon as they are available.

John (right), 2010-2011 Program Assistant


  • mentoring and advising students through the cultural adjustment process
  • encouraging and enabling students to explore Madurai on a daily basis
  • accompanying students to the hospital if requested
  • supporting SITA staff and faculty in their work
  • assisting with program trips and activities
  • networking with host families and NGOs
  • sending regular program updates to parents through emails
  • preparing mid-term and final reports for the executive director, as well as brief weekly email updates
  • assisting with students’ visa registration
  • being on-call for emergencies 24 hours a day
  • assisting with arrival orientation
  • organizing and managing the SITA Center space
  • completing various administrative tasks as required
  • writing and soliciting student writing & art for SITA newsletters
  • contributing to SITA’s social media presence through Facebook and other outlets
  • contributing in whatever other ways necessary to ensure smooth functioning of the program


Hannah (right), 2011-2012 Program Assistant

Program assistants receive a taxable USD living stipend ($4500/semester, with a $500 raise for each subsequent semester) distributed in installments at the 1st of each month. They also receive, either as reimbursement or paid directly, 1 international round-trip ticket from their home city to Madurai, all visa costs paid (*not passport costs*), travel and emergency insurance (*proof of US insurance required; vaccination and medical expenses beyond the insurances provided are not reimbursed or covered by SITA*), housing, housekeeping, cell phone, local transportation, and lunches in Madurai (*internet expenses at the PA apartment are not covered by SITA*), and a set number of expressive culture and Tamil language classes each semester.

We ask program assistants to reflect on the value of this position at the end of their semester or year (or more) with SITA. Here is a summary of their responses.

Program assistants strongly agree that the SITA PA position gave them transferrable experience, knowledge, skills, and/or training in:

peer counseling
“. . . the PA position has really deepened my ability to communicate about an issue and cooperatively problem-solve” (SITA PA, 2012)

intercultural communication & teamwork
“Everyday at SITA is an exercise in intercultural communication, and that’s been a very good experience. One great professional development aspect of the PA position has been recruiting and communicating with translators for the student IS projects. This was a wonderful opportunity to practice communicating and conducting business in an intercultural setting. The host family visits were also a great exercise in intercultural communication.” (SITA PA, 2012)

event planning
“Before I took the PA position, I had no experience whatsoever in event planning. Planning and executing two farewell teas was an excellent opportunity to gain experience in this area. While my first foray into event planning was stressful, my second farewell tea felt much smoother, and the event went really well.” (SITA PA, 2012)

“Many events also involved coordinating with host families, the SITA staff, and local businesses.” (SITA PA, 2012)

non-profit administration
“Working as part of the administrative team in a small, cross-cultural office has been a great experience in non-profit management.” (SITA PA, 2012)

Program assistants strongly agree that:

compared to their experiences as SITA students, they explored and learned new areas and/or aspects of Madurai as a program assistant
“I loved exploring Madurai as a PA, especially the downtown areas I rarely went to as a student. Learning Tamil was also wonderful, and having better language skills really helped me explore new facets of Madurai.” (SITA PA, 2012)

“I definitely would say I explored new aspects of Madurai. Because of relationships I had built with SITA staff and my host family as a student, I felt more comfortable asking them more personal questions that helped me to learn more about India and Madurai. I also became very comfortable using the bus . . . By the end, I was able to navigate downtown very easily . . ., while as a student I only went downtown a handful of times. As a student I also never went to KK Nagar . . . This semester I was able to experience all that the area has to offer (Puppy’s Bakery, Chappati Park, Remuki’s, etc.).” (SITA PA, 2012)

“Absolutely! I definitely used the freedom of living independently to explore way more than I did as a student. The improvement in my Tamil allowed me to meet and interact positively with a lot more people, especially ones from different backgrounds. I’ll definitely miss the community I feel like I’ve developed in Madurai, as well as all of our regular haunts.” (SITA PA, 2012)

Program assistants agree that the SITA PA position gave them transferrable experience, knowledge, skills, and/or training in:

professional networking
“I had the opportunity to network with the Lady Doak College (LDC) International Center staff and the LDC principal, along with expressive culture teachers, professors, and many other people. I valued these opportunities immensely and they strengthened my networking abilities, a skill very useful in the future.”  (SITA PA, 2012)

Program assistants agree that:

they started the SITA PA position confident and prepared for their responsibilities
“I didn’t have any trouble hitting the ground running first semester and I enjoyed the challenge of tackling the myriad of PA responsibilities in those first weeks.” (SITA PA, 2012)

“The PA handbook, support from the previous year’s PAs and correspondence with the SITA executive director and SITA resident director helped me to prepare for the position from home. When I arrived, the orientation also helped to further prepare me.” (SITA PA, 2012)

SITA staff members acknowledged their contributions to the SITA program
“[They] have been really sweet about making us feel like a part of the team and appreciated this year.” (SITA PA, 2012)

Program assistants agree that they:

developed important, lasting, and/or fun relationships with people outside of the SITA Center in Madurai

had sufficient time off

looked forward to going to the SITA Center in the morning
“I definitely looked forward to going to SITA, especially when I knew I had specific projects to work on or needed to check in with students.” (SITA PA, 2012)

pursued hobbies in Madurai
“I enjoyed exploring the local eateries in ways I was not able to when confined to my host family’s schedule as a student.” (SITA PA, 2012)

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