10 weeks in chitwan: Antje

Actually I wanted to stay in Nepal to volunteer at a place surrounded by mountains - as it is the main picture of Nepal but as things happen sometimes I got to know a very different side of this wonderful country as I got a placement next to the Chitwan National Park.

The most wonderful experience in this part of the world were the people in this small village, especially my beloved host family and I want to thank INFO for sending me to their house.

At the beginning of the placement I was totally confused because I had no idea what exactly I had to do and I had never taught before but after some time I learned to love the freedom and possibilities which were given to me. I taught in the Government school for 2 month - which was kind of a mission because hardly any of the students understood what I was talking about but I liked the students very much and they were very nice to me so it became a mixture of acting, playing and trying to make them use some English. It became a lot easier after I learned some basic Nepali which I could use in class. The first month I was also teaching in the "library" (which really needs books) which was a lot different as I could freely decide what I wanted to teach them and after that I taught in a language course in another village for older students. In this class I could really start conversation with some of the students but the main problem in all of the classes I was teaching in was the different level of English between the students.

Of course not only the experience of teaching every day made an impact on me it was very interesting to live in the village for that time. After some weeks a lot of people recognised me as the local volunteer and so many people new my name even if i hadn't met them before everyday when i was walking or cycling through the village I would hear children calling after me and everybody greeting me. Of course everybody who knew at least a little English would try to talk to me which was a little tiring sometimes but I will miss to be treated like a celebrity and to make people happy just by sitting with them and drinking tea or having dinner at their houses. One thing you should be prepared for: everything in this culture is about food so whenever I stopped by somewhere I had to sit down and have a tea and then try to make them understand I wasn't hungry... I got used to the Dal Bhat but it's still just to much food for me so every day I had little fights about how much food should be on my plait - it's always better to take less than you think you can eat because you will get more anyways. After all it's not as horrible as it sounds, you can always say if you don't like something and don't have to get it down your throat just because someone offered it to you - and tell them what you like to eat and they will be glad to fulfil your wishes.

Apart from all my experiences with the Nepali's in the villages of course the National Park was a big thing as I could walk to the Rapti river which separates the rural areas from the jungle. It was an amazing green paradise just a few steps away. I have to say the climate was really bad, don't come during the rainy season - to hot (during the day it just wasn't possible to move, which affects you specially when being sick) and the second month it started raining and there were definitely to many insects which was quite an experience as I had never seen insects in so many different shapes and sizes before.

As a conclusion I want to say that for me it was a wonderful inspiring time and i want to thank all the people who were there for me - first my host family Sita, Tej, little Sunita & Ganesh, and all my other friends in the village, all the other volunteers that walked along the way with me Noa, Cornelie and Virginie in my village, Kris, Amy, Fay and Max for spending such a nice time with me. Then of course I need to thank the organizers in INFO even though it went strange ways sometimes but there will always be some Nepali things and behaviour that I don't understand. There will always be a lot more to learn in this country - in good and bad, so you have to take it as it comes, appreciate the good things and try to be aware or not to much affected by the others...

Good Luck