Teaching English

Katherine Watanabe

Honolulu, Hawaii', USAAfter quitting my teaching job in Bangkok, I was desperately searching the internet for a volunteer opportunity that seemed both worthwhile and within my budget.  Most that I found had administration fees and costs in the thousands of US dollars!  When I finally connected with INFO, I was so happy, not only to find a reasonably priced program, but staffed with people who were so friendly, helpful and obviously committed to helping the people of Nepal.  INFO is staffed by volunteers who really care about the people they're working for and strive to maintain the high quality of the services they provide.  More importantly, INFO was started by local Nepali people who know what the country needs most and are not impeded in their mission by their own Western cultural views.  This was a very important factor in my decision to work with INFO Nepal because I believe very strongly that sustainable poverty alleviation and empowerment needs to come from within a community.

 Flying into Kathmandu, I couldn't help but be struck by the intense beauty of the city.  Red brick buildings (virtually no high rises) piled atop one another and small curvy streets filled to the brim with just about anything you can imagine.  Packed buses, teeny cars, motos, bicycles, loads of people, dogs and even cows.  The feel of the city is one of frenzied busy-ness, excitement and color.  After making my way through customs, I was met by friendly people full of questions and concern for my well-being.  From the very beginning I felt as though I was being welcomed into a family.  The INFO office is conveniently located on the edge of Thamel so you begin your journey with every possible convenience and comfort (a very nice thing considering you will soon be blissfully lost in a small village surrounded by friendly and curious people, with e-mail being only a distant memory).

My training was quick, but effective, with Nepali language lessons being the absolute highlight.  My placement village was Godavari, located on the outskirts of Kathmandu.  I was driven there by my new INFO family and they even had someone stay with me that first night so that I would feel comfortable in my new surroundings and to answer any questions that came up.  

Teaching children is always a wonderful experience, in my opinion, but I found the Nepali kids interested, fun-loving and exceptional pupils.  I taught 4 classes a day (45 minutes per period) and spent my afternoons wandering about some of the most beautiful places I have ever encountered (and I'm from Hawai'i).  With my notebook and water bottle in hand, I would take off and explore.  On these mini-adventures, I often met new friends and unexpectedly came across the most beautiful temples.

I would recommend volunteering with INFO to anyone.

Morag Cossar
Email: cossarmoi@yahoo.com

Hi there, I'm Moi from Scotland.  Before I left Scotland, I was called Mo but the children have re-christened me Moi and I really quite like it.  

I came to Nepal in as a tourist after traveling for 3 months in India.  It wasn't on my mind at that time to stay or work here, but the country, especially the people gripped my heart (and I must admit it was a welcome relief after the hectic way of life in India). I decided if I was staying a while I wanted some purpose so that's when I contacted INFO. Straight away I took a liking to Asim and Bob and their dreams for their charity and how it can help the less privileged children of Nepal .  

My first assignment was in Kathmandu teaching at a Government School and helping out at a children's home. The children helped me immensely to appreciate my situation and to look forward and not dwell on what I left behind. They are all very loving, trusting and I must add very inquisitive.  

At the children's home I think I was expected to teach them English, but I've ended up just going and giving them lots of love and attention ( and certainly getting lots back). No one dictates to you what to do; they really do appreciate any help you can give. My next assignment was going to be very different because up until now I had my own flat in Kathmandu, but I wanted to experience " the real Nepal ." So, I went to live with Nepali families and teach in the local schools. 

My first family lived in Kaskikot a beautiful village near Pokhara.  The village can certainly boast about its views, which are really awesome, as it stands right in front of Fish Tail Mountain.  

While I was there it was harvesting time for the rice so the after school activity was helping out in the field. My experience there will stay with me all my life. Until then, I knew Nepal had gripped me but this really reinforced that - the culture and the people whose beliefs lie very strongly in the "cycle of life." They are very beautiful, respectful human- beings as indeed you find where ever you go in Nepal.  

My second family I have to say was quiet different (well the living condition). I ended up sleeping in their sitting room so the lack of privacy was a challenge Additionally, there was no toilet facilities so I had my own private one given to me situated in the middle of orange orchard. I got plenty of vitamin C. 

The school in this village was very poor with holes in the ceilings and walls so you always ended up teaching three classes instead of one  - "great fun". Again, I loved the experience and I still some times visit both places having made friends for life. 

I still get homesick sometimes but its never strong enough to overcome what I gave found here which is mainly the un-materialistic way of life and keeping of all the old, ancient-ways. They recycle every thing at their disposal; they dance; they sing and count their blessings. After five months I am finding it increasingly hard to leave this country and the people.  

I must add both families went out of their work to make me feel at home. While I was there I was treated like one of the family- each referring to me as Didi (Sister).  

Stephen Kokotos
Greece, Siamaia
Email stefanos_kokotos@yahoo.co.uk

I found out about INFO Nepal on the Internet and really liked the sound of the volunteer placements, especially how one has the chance to become a part of the community and a family, so I applied immediately. Upon arriving in Nepal I received a warm welcome and started my lessons in Nepali and TEFL. These classes were invaluable, providing me with a good foundation to build my Nepali and teaching skills, especially since I had no prior experience with either. The INFO staff is very nice and always went out of their way to help me adjust to the different culture and society of Nepal. 

After the four-day training period I moved to my placement in the village of Bastul, 35 km outside Kathmandu. I first met my family - father, mother, bhai (younger brother), didi (older sister) and my sister-in-law and then went with buba (father) to the teashop for the first of many cups of chia.

I was very lucky to arrive just before the start of the Tikka festival. It is a very colourful five-day festival and I participated in all the festivities with my family and other villagers. That experience alone gave me a lot of  insight on Nepali and Hinduism.

When the festival ended school resumed and I met the classes I would be teaching: 8, 9 and 10. I also met a few young people who had finished school and we arranged English classes before and after school.

The teaching proved easier than I thought, but that wouldn't have been so without the creativity and enthusiasm of all the children. They are all very eager to learn English and, besides trying hard in class, they used every opportunity to practice their English talking to me or even speaking English between themselves. Overall, though, I believe I learnt more than I taught. Everybody talked at length about Nepal and their culture and I learnt a great deal by just observing everyday life and living with a Nepali family. I also found the children's willingness and hard work inspiring. I left Bastul with a heavy heart because it meant leaving many friends behind that I had made in my short, one month, stay. Even so I will always carry the memories and lessons of that great experience with me.

Andrew Ostle, UK

Id visited Nepal the previous year and as soon as Id left I new I wanted to come back again.  When I got back to England I made plans to return to Nepal for a longer period of time and decided that the best way (and one of the cheapest) was to do some voluntary teaching and to stay with a Nepali family.

I wasnt sure how to go about organising this kind of thing, but I found many organisations willing to organise this kind of placement.  They all seemed very expensive but then I found the Inside Nepal Friendship Organisation (INFO) who could provide me with a flexible, low-cost programme which could be tailored to my needs.

Following some language and teacher training, I was placed in a small village near Pokhara with the headmaster of the local school. From day one I was made to feel welcome by everybody.  Nepali people are very friendly, generous and approachable and always inviting you for tea!  Nepali culture is very different to the Western World and something I really enjoyed learning about.  Day-to-day living is an experience in itself, but I also got to experience things like a traditional Nepali marriage ceremony and festivals.  The food is also great, real home cooking, although you dont get the variety which we are used to in the UK.

I have no previous teaching experience but the training I got prior to my placement was a big help.  I was teaching English for three periods each day, six days a week to kids between 11 and 17 years old.  They are all keen to learn, a lot of fun to teach and I was given a lot of freedom as to what I taught.  During my stay at the village I took some time out to do some trekking which was a fantastic experience Nepal must be one of the most beautiful countries in the world.  I then returned to the school to help monitor some exams before I said a sad goodbye and returned to the UK.

I was there for two months and it was probably the greatest experience of my life I would recommend it to anyone.

Andrew Ostle, UK

Femke Tesselaar 
Holland, Amsterdam

After seeing an advertisement of INFO in Kathmandu ,my friend and I went to the office of INFO. Before starting with the project we had a course to learn the basics of the Nepali language and culture -this was very useful, because most of the people in the village where we were placed did not speak English. 

We choose to do a teaching project in Governmental School in the Chitwan District.  We stayed in the house of a local family where we tried to integrate in the Nepalese way of living, including eating the national food, Dal / Bhat, with  hand twice a day ,taking a public shower with buckets , going to the toilet outside and giving up your privacy.

The lack of the privacy seemed to me one of the main differences between Holland and Nepal. From 6.00 in the morning till 10.00 in the evening we were surrounded by villagers who could hardly understand we sometime wanted to be alone. A lot of the villagers invited us for tea or food and we had wonderful evenings with them. 

We started teaching on the second day after our arrival. There were about 300 children at the lower secondary school. We taught classes 5,6,7 and 8. In the class 5 we had to use a lot of Nepali words because the level of English understanding was very low. The students of class 8 (about 15/16 years old) were very shy in the beginning, but became much more talkative after a few weeks. 

At the end of our stay the school staff organized a beautiful good-bye ceremony.  Although the time was very short we had seen improvement with the students English. 

We learned a lot about Nepali culture and wish to come back later and work with INFO. 

Louissa Joy McPherson 
Burwood East, 
Victoria, Australia  

"I thoroughly enjoyed my placement organised by INFO. The three weeks that I spent teaching English in Sanga, Kavre were the highlight of my holiday to India and Nepal. Although it was hard work, I enjoyed the challenge of being part of a Nepalese village and learning about the customs and daily routines. The family I stayed with were great and it was sad to say goodbye at the end of the placement. I am grateful to INFO for their help in organising the placement and support while I was living with the family. It is an experience I can hopefully repeat again when I return to Nepal."

Linsey Watt Lothian, 

"Earlier this year whilst traveling around Nepal, I decided that I wanted to do some voluntary work, however as I had no contacts and had no idea of who could help me organise this, I began to think it may be quite an arduous task. But as in every fairy tale story there is always a knight in shining amour.  Inside Nepal was mine! Having made initial contact with Asim (tracking him down is easier said than done as he in constantly on the road trying to organise things out on the placements), we spent sometime discussing what it was I was looking for, the length of time I could spend as a volunteer and where in Nepal I would like to work.

Within a week another volunteer and I were enrolled in a week-long language and cultural course. The good thing about the course was the fact that there were two of us learning and so we were able to use each other to practice our speaking skills. Needless to say because we practised so hard we are now fluent in Nepali (small lie). 

The following week we were taken out to the placement village to meet our families and visit the school.  We went to Sanga, about an hour from Kathmandu and is actually the village where Asim was brought up, so he had plenty of contacts. The day I was introduced to my family they were all busy with the harvest. A very interesting sight, especially when you are so used to seeing huge combine harvesters.  The families were excellent.  They made me feel very welcome and were super friendly, despite their inability to speak English. As a result, many of our conversations turned out to be a series of gestures and sounds - it all looked very comical.  This did help me improve my Nepali though. 

We taught at a government school - Mahenrda Secondary School which was located at the top of a hill, so every morning we managed to get a daily dose of exercise by scrambling up the hill. The teachers were all very accommodating and helpful and were keen to hear about our countries. The children were all very well behaved and willing to learn, even if the girls were a little on the shy side and I'm sure now that we have left, the whole school knows the words "If you're happy and you know it!" 

In the evenings we also taught at the social club in the village. This was to help the adults improve their conversational English. With activities such as role-play, debates, question and answer sessions, these classes always ended up being very amusing. There were also occasions where we took a children's class (for those who did not go to school). This too was very enjoyable, although much more energy was required seeing as we seemed to  spend the whole time singing and dancing. As the saying goes "all good things must come to an end" and so when it was time for us to depart I was a little sad.  However, I did leave with thousands of good memories, some cracking photos and a contact to use when I come back to do some more voluntary work.  So if you are thinking about embarking in some voluntary work, just remember the Nike slogan "Just do it!!".  I can assure you, you won't regret it!  It is possibly the most rewarding thing I did while traveling through Asia."

Dr Els A.G 

"Inside Nepal Friendship Organization... a wonderful initiative!!! They know exactly where volunteers are needed. INFO  checks individually your qualities and interests and try to find a job in a district which suites you the most. Before going to a remote village, they prepare you properly: teaching you Nepali language, informing you about the most important cultural differences, how to eat the local food: Dal, Bhat and Tarkari, etc. We went to Betrawati in Rasuwa and stayed in the local orphanage next to the Trisuli river. 

Quite some experience !! We taught English and social studies in the local school. And we gave some extra classes on hygiene, sanitation and health. It was great fun to teach in different grades, but sometimes very exhausting especially in the lower grades. A lot of schoolchildren have to help their parents  or work on the field after school time which makes it difficult for them to concentrate in school all the time. So we taught them English by playing games and role-plays, and had a lot of fun together. Sometimes local teachers attended our classes to get new ideas about interactive teaching methods. After school time we often went to the beautiful waterfall nearby."