Sunday, March 22, 2015

The End? No!

Today I made my last school visit at the end of a busy week. You would think that with all the school visits I would have a bit of time to relax, but find myself rushing around more than ever trying to tidy up all the loose ends before I leave Palpa on Wednesday morning!

The week started with my final training day in Tansen. This was very different from the training given in the past, when teachers are invited in and we discuss different aspects of teaching and how to improve. This time we looked at sustainability for the community, in particular at tourism. For this we invited not only a representative from the school, but also from the village committee and the woman's group in each village. The day went really well and many of the villages are keen to welcome tourists to diversify their local economies and bring some extra income to the village. Hopefully by the time the next Manisha UK volunteers come some villages will have been able to take concrete action and even start welcoming some visitors. From my own visits to each village I can say without hesitation that anyone who does visit will have a unique, authentic and unforgettable experience!

The day after training I visited our school at Kolkal. This is our smallest school and also only school that we don't yet have an UK twin for. They have some good teachers who really work hard to make the most of the meager resources they have, so it's an absolute pleasure to be able to take them some more. In the end I spent as much of the day playing with balloons as I did teaching, but the children were having a great time. I did also spend some time in each class, doing jigsaws with nursery and using the mini-white boards with class 2. 

The next day I was due to visit Bhalebas, but went down with a virus and had to return to base in Tansen. However, after a couple of days on antibiotics I am back in action and was able to make a shortened visit today. Time was very limited so after making more animal leaflets with class six and some fun with nursery it was time to say an emotional goodbye and return to Tansen. 

Now I have a couple of days to finish off all the little jobs that need doing before I leave, which seems to be a lot! Although my visits are over I'll return to write one more blog post once I'm back in England. It's been an incredible journey and I can't quite accept it's almost over!

Thursday, March 12, 2015

Pipaldanda: Who knew building a school could be so much work?!

New building
Yesterday I made my final trip to Pipaldanda. I have made more visits to this school than any other during the last six months, but it is also the school where I have done the least teaching! Our project to completely rebuild the school has dominated my other visits, but I am absolutely thrilled to be able to say that the building project is now complete!!! This has been an immense effort by everyone involved, both from Manisha UK and in the community at Pipaldanda. I must say here a special thanks to Saran who has worked tirelessly on this project over the last two years and probably aged about ten years for all the stress it's caused him. There are many others deserving of thanks but I won't list them all here.

Class 5 leaflets
The trip this week was to hold an open day to celebrate the completion of the building project and to show off the building a bit. We really want to boost pupil numbers so inviting everyone in to see not only the new building, but also the resources and good teaching practice, is part of our strategy to help the schools reputation in the local area. 

I spent the whole morning teaching before a celebration and thank you program in the afternoon. I once again made animal leaflets with class five, as like the children at so many schools they loved the chance to be creative and use the colouring pencils. The highlight of the day was working with nursery. All the resources that the school has been given over the last few years were out, some for the first time. After reading from some 'Big Books', with plenty of actions, we did some jigsaw puzzles before some free play time. The children really did love using the resources and were clearly learning lots from being given the chance to explore them independently. The headteacher saw all this and I am optimistic it will become a more regular feature of school life than it has been in the past. Plenty of parents and people from the community came to see the school during this time and seemed almost as thrilled as the children to see such a lively and colourful scene. 


Keep trying!

Class 5 children dancing
The tikka is still in my hair...
The afternoon was given over to a celebration and thank you program. Most of this consisted of fairly long speeches, as is quite typical in Nepal. We were also treated to some dances from some of the children. Inevitably I was also asked to dance, with my new wife who came to school with me for the first time. It's hard to say who looked more embarrassed, but her dancing was certainly much better than my efforts! 
Traditional Nepali or Saturday Night Fever?
The new building really does look good now, and with all the resources out and spread around the classrooms it really did look like a proper learning environment for the first time. With next years volunteers able to concentrate on teacher training rather than building projects the school should now go from strength to strength.

Monday, March 02, 2015

It never rains, but it pours.....

With my wedding now done, life in Nepal is returning to something like normality (or at least as close to normality as life in Nepal ever comes). One exception to this rule is the weather. One day I think summer is coming and I'm putting my shorts on, but the next it looks like monsoon has come several months early and I'm getting a severe drenching on the way to school.

My first post wedding school visit was to Mahachap. As there have previously been some issues surrounding staying in this village Saran and I just visited for the day. The school is desperately in need of funds and resources and it can be frustrating having to constantly remind that I am there to teach and show the teachers some new teaching methods. Getting the teachers to watch my lessons is also challenging! However, I had a great lesson with class 5 who made leaflets about local animals for their twin school. Yet again, something as simple as having a few colouring pencils was a great treat to them. I also spent time in nursery, who enjoyed doing a big floor puzzle I had taken with me. They also liked listening to some books as a read them. Although they couldn't understand much of the English they loved doing the actions I put it, something that I home their regular teacher will continue with having seen the way the children respond.

After Mahachap I returned to Amrit, to deliver a very generous donation from their twin school; Kings Lynn Academy. They plan to use this money to improve the rooms used by classes 5 & 6, and improvements are certainly desperately needed! I took a lesson with classes 11 & 12 (Nepali 6th Form) and we talked about what could be done to improve the education system of Nepal. They were a little shocked at my suggestion of burning all their textbooks, but we all agreed that the majority of their current lessons are very boring. 

Yesterday I made my latest visit to Pipaldanda. It was pouring with heavy rain in the morning, after thunderstorms all night. Rescheduling the visit wasn't really option, as many people from the community were already gather to meet us, so we tried to find a jeep. Unfortunately no available jeep wanted to try the difficult road to the school in bad weather conditions, so we had to go on motorbikes. By the time we arrived we looked like we'd swam there, in very dirty water! Still, after a cup of tea we managed to have a useful meeting with the community and decided to hold an open day at the school next week, to show the new building to all the local community. No doubt there will plenty more about that in my next blog entry!