Nepal By Christina Paul

My Experience in Nepal

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Looking back now I am incredibly proud of myself and over the moon for having done this experience. I feel very fortunate for getting a chance to witness how children in Nepal learn and live. During my time there we had very limited water which made washing incredibly difficult and most of it was contaminated so drinking water was a rarity. With it almost being the monsoon season, there was often no electricity so fans and refrigerators did not work. Also being as it was summer it was superbly hot. Regarding food, we used to eat just once a day in the evening. Despite all these factors, I couldn’t put a price on how the experience has shaped me. I knew at the time I would come home to clean water, electricity and food but these children would not. This is how they live everyday. Coming back I worshipped the belongings that I own as I know that I am incredibly privilege compared to some of the children there. Even explaining to them how we live in London was an alien-like dream to them. They were in shock at how one world can have such extremes of living.

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With the Eleanor trust fund I managed to pay for the accommodation at the orphanage. Living on site meant we really got to know the children. Leaving there was hard enough; I couldn’t imagine how it would be to be there longer. The children are what have made the best memories of Nepal. Their personality shines through and they are truly incredibly people. If there were living here in London they would all thrive as individual and become success people. However, where they live those opportunities to thrive are almost impossible. To them they feel they will be stuck in the small town in the middle of a forest/national park for years. We had brought resources with us from England to give to the children and the orphanage. They were so appreciative to have these things. These smalls items are their treasured belongings that we take for granted.

During my time there I did not only support the children at the orphanage but also worked in a school. Here children were aged 3 to 16 and I was given an opportunity to teach in all years. Wow was it amazing. I was here with three of my friends from university. They all could speak a little Urdu which meant they could communicate with the children more than I could. Despite the language barrier, I still managed to get across what I meant through actions, and expression. During teaching, I found I used a lot of pictures/object and drama. Often they would stare at me (like is she a crazy women). This is because they haven’t been taught that way before. They learn through rote learning. The teacher reads a passage. The children follow. The teacher reads it again and asks questions that the children must answer without the text in front of them. They learn through memorising only. A friend and I were given an opportunity to teach a class this way with the help of their teacher. We found it very restricting and difficult. I felt like I wanted to throw the books out the window and liven up the classroom. This lesson made me really appreciate our schools here and gives me more passion for teaching.

On our last day of school, we had decided to feed every child and teaching in the school watermelon. We had ordered 20kg of the largest melons from the local market and spent time cutting it up and handing it out to children. This was such a heart-warming time. Children would be greedily eating the melons as their do not get lunch at school. They would call to us for more and scream out ‘thank you’. Also, on our last day we were given a small ceremony by the whole school. This was because we had raised money to supply one whiteboard for each classroom. We initial put our money together to get one. Then we informed our friends and family and within a day had enough money for a whiteboard per class. The school was so joyed. No more blackboard, no more chalk dust; better health, better education.

 

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I have so many memories of my trip to Nepal I could write a whole book on it. During the time I kept a diary which now looking back on it makes me smile. I am so happy I wrote one as I feel that the experience was one I could never replicate. I would definite teach aboard again but this being my first experience will be the one that truly has shaped my way of teaching and who I am as a person.

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If you would like to see some videos and more pictures from Christina’s trip please follow the links below:

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=H1Ady57QQVs

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Nepal- By Rabeha Malik

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On the 31st May 2013, I travelled to Nepal with three university friends; Christina Paul, Liza Ahmed and Shelina Begum. We are all currently studying at University of Cumbria doing a BA Honours Degree in Primary Education QTS. For our second year we had the opportunity to do an alternative placement which had to be education based. Therefore we decided to embark upon a voluntary teaching placement in Kathmandu, Nepal with ‘Original Volunteers’. We wanted to experience the teaching and lifestyle of Nepalese people, so that we could give back to the community by making a difference to children who are less fortunate. I stayed in Nepal for two weeks, leaving London Heathrow on the 31st May and returning to the UK on the 18th June 2013.

As we arrived at Kathmandu airport, we were greeted by Asim (the co-ordinator) and his two sons- Tim and Jack. They were very friendly, on our way to the guesthouse the boys asked us lots of questions as they wanted to know all about us. We stayed in Asim’s guesthouse for two nights. During our time in Kathmandu we went sightseeing, attended a Nepalese language class and went shopping! Nepal is a beautiful country, the scenery is breathtaking. Also the Nepalese people we met were soo friendly! The language class was interesting as me and my friends didn’t know Nepalese. We learnt simple phrases and words which were useful. As I knew Hindi I was able to communicate with the Nepali people as it is similar to Nepalese. I’m glad my Hindi came in use, it helped a lot!

On the 3rd June, we travelled to the Chitwan girl’s orphanage (named Happy Home) via tourist bus. We stayed at this orphanage for 10 days. Chitwan is a rural village which is very hot, where temperatures were 37 degrees and above. We met lots of volunteers that were also staying at the orphanage; some had come in a group and others alone. The children were lovely; we instantly got along with them. Also the host mother Basanti was so caring she has a beautiful personality.

During our stay at the orphanage we spent time with the girls, helped them with homework and played various games i.e., football, karaoke. The children normally ate the Nepalese national dish: Daal Baat twice a day, everyday. This consisted of boiled rice and lentils. We opted for catering, so on several occasions we made food for everyone at the orphanage. We made noodles, brought drinks and watermelons for everyone to enjoy. We wanted to treat them to something different as they had the same thing everyday. This made me appreciate food and drink a lot more.

We taught at a school named ‘Lower Secondary School Dhanauji’. The school day starts at 10am and finishes at 3.30. Children have a lunch break at 1.40 for 40 minutes. They are not provided with food but can bring snacks if they can afford it. Class 5 and above were segregated, boys seated on one side and girls on the other. Some classes had up to 40 students! The classrooms were bare and lifeless; there was a blackboard at the front and desks/ chairs for the students.

I really enjoyed teaching at this school; the head teacher was the best! Staff where great, very friendly. The staffroom had a positive vibe as if they were all part of one big family. Everyone at the school appreciated that we had travelled from so far to teach and work with them, they were overjoyed. We were treated like celebrities!  Working at this school was a contrasting experience to my previous placements in the UK. The children were taught using rote learning where they worked through textbooks. However when me and my friends taught the children we used creative approaches to establish a stimulating environment that interested the children. The head teacher put us in different classes everyday, we taught in pairs. We brought a lot of resources from London which we used at school; this included big story books, marbles, games etc. The children and staff loved the different techniques and strategies that we used. We promised that before we left we would let them keep the resources so that they could use it in their teaching.

On our last day working at school we brought lots of watermelons and fed the whole school, it was amazing! The staff held a leaving ceremony for us which was fantastic. All the staff gave speeches and made us garlands, it was so sweet. Me and my friends donated the school there first big whiteboard and we managed to raise enough money for every single classroom to have a Whiteboard. It was a great achievement; we were so proud of the quick response and willingness of our friends and family who wanted to improve this school. The staff members were ecstatic, they couldn’t’ stop thanking us. Words can’t describe how I felt when I saw the smiles on there faces.

The weekend were our days off as during the weekday we taught at school then stayed at the orphanage helping out with daily chores. On the first weekend me and my friends travelled to Pokhara. It was an amazing, touristic location. We stayed in a luxiourious hotel, went sightseeing and we went paragliding! It was AMAZING, the view was breathtaking, we were so high up! It was scary at first but totally worth it, the greatest experience of my life. Our last weekend on Nepal was spent at Chitwan National Park. This was a touristic resort where many people came got a Jungle Safari. We went to a Tharu concert and went canoeing in a crocodile infested river- any small mistake or loss of balance and we would’ve been in the water! I had an elephant ride in the jungle and had an elephant bath which was great fun, I loved it!

Overall I had an amazing time in Nepal, will miss everyone that I have met! Only went for two weeks but we done so much. It was a great experience. I would like to thank the Eleanor Peel Trust for sponsoring this project and contributing towards the cost of resources and equipment that we used with the children at the orphanage and at school. With the money we was able to buy lots of resources from London to give to the children and use whilst teaching. Before our last day, we split the resources and gave it to the Happy Home kids and the school. The funding was appreciated by me and all the children who participated in the project. The experience was very rewarding and I hope to return to Nepal in the future.

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