Volunteer Review: Emma C., Teach English and Other Subjects in Nepal
The minute I arrived in Nepal, it all finally hit me. I was really in Nepal and I was really going to be teaching English to many classes with over 30 children screaming at me in a different language. My intention in Nepal wasn’t just to help children have better English skills, it was to make a difference. This, however, seemed to be a very daunting task, realizing that I was going to have to find ways of communication skills for me to do this, with many of the children speaking very little English at all.
When me and my friend got off the plane, Navin, one of the Projects Abroad staff, picked us up from the airport and took us straight to the hotel. The minute we left the airport, the fact that I was in a third world country hit me straight away. I couldn’t believe what I was seeing, it was as if we had landed in a completely different planet. Whenever we arrived at the hotel, Projects Abroad staff were there to greet us and make us feel comfortable.
After a good nights rest, we got shown around Kathmandu where we went most weekends, and after a few times of taking detours, we quickly got to know our way around and it felt like we had been there for weeks! After two nights of staying in the hotel, we got driven to our placement, where I would be staying for the next 4 weeks.
At first, it was daunting, the minute I walked through the gates of Surya Vinyak school, I was greeted by smiling children all crowding round to kiss my right hand. It all seemed surreal for the first few hours until I got used to my surrounding and realized where I was and what I was doing. It did, however, take me a few days to get used to eating the traditional food, Dahl Bat, everyday for breakfast and dinner!
With living at the hostel directly opposite the school, owned by my host parents, the head teachers of the school, I lived with many children from the school. Most of these children were from extremely under-privileged backgrounds where my host parents were kind enough to take them into their lives. With being surrounded with children all day everyday, many people asked me if I found it hard not having my own time. I can honestly say I enjoyed each and every single minute of being with the children. I quickly grew close relationships with each one of them and grew to love them all.
I had 8 classes, ranging from the ages of 4 to 16. I was shocked at how well disciplined the classes were, especially when the children weren’t allowed to enter the class without permission. They all showed me so much respect and I had a lot of fun trying to think up imaginative lessons to make the lessons more fun. If the class had gone well that day then I would teach them a new game, or song. They loved playing the game ‘head down thumbs up’ and asked me everyday to sing my national anthem. I also taught them a traditional Scottish dance, which I would see them practicing in the playground at lunch. Seeing them doing this made me so happy, known that you have brought any kind of happiness to these children’s lives gave you the biggest smile.
Before leaving for Nepal, I went on a health and safety course which gave me the opportunity to teach health and safety to my classes in Nepal. I decided not to prepare my lessons for this until I was in Nepal, as I didn’t know what knowledge they would have on health and safety there. It turns out the didn’t have very much, and I was shocked that even for class 8, which was full of 15-16 year olds, I had to go back to basic health and safety. Teaching young adults the same sort of thing that would be taught to 7 year olds back home made me realize just how lucky I was.
With teaching this course to the children, it meant that I was able to give them certificates saying that they had participated. I couldn’t believe how happy children were to receive something such as a certificate. I gave out my certificates on my last day at the school and I even had children crying because they had never received anything like it before. Their faces lit up and it was the happiest I had seen them the whole 4 weeks I was there. I couldn’t believe such a small gesture went such a long way.
My host parents, Bina and Suresh, were incredible. I had a new appreciation for the word selfless after I met them. They had taken in over 20 children. Suresh, as well as being head teacher at Surya, runs a disabled center for children who have disabilities and any family who could not cope with this, he took the child into the hostel and cared for them. You could tell the love they had for each and every child that lived with them in the hostel, as well as their own daughter Subi, and Rohan who they had adopted when he got abandoned at the school by his mother. The amount that they done for the children, me as a volunteer there and the school was incredible and I have never met two people who are as willing and as caring as them.
On my last day at Surya, the children and teachers held me a leaving ceremony. For this, each class had prepared something different to say a farewell to me. One class prepared a dance where another learned my national anthem. It was one of the most amazing moments in my life, knowing that I was special enough to people that they would do such a thing for me, and a gesture which I will never forget. I received pictures and letters from different children and by the time I was leaving, most of the teachers, pupils, and me, were all crying.
I was, and still am, amazed at the positive attitude in Nepal. They have so little, yet I never once heard anyone complain. It was amazing at how they were thankful for so little and it gave me a big awakening at the different life and culture which there is in the world. There is not a day goes by where I don’t think of my experience in Nepal and I miss my children so much. I can definitely see me visiting Nepal again sometime in the near future. It was the best experience in my life and I am so happy I got the chance to experience what I did.
This is a personal account of one volunteer’s experience on the project and is a snapshot in time. Your experience may be different, as our projects are constantly adapting to local needs and building on accomplishments. Seasonal weather changes can also have a big impact. Find out more about what you can expect from this project, or speak to one of our friendly Program Advisors.