My experience teaching English in Nepal. (April 03)

Fay Chang 

As a teacher in Canada, I am always looking for opportunities to expose children to new experiences. When I decided to come to Nepal to be a volunteer English teacher, I saw the perfect opportunity for a cultural exchange between children in Canada and children in Nepal.

Before I left Canada, I went to the school where I teach and spoke to three grade five classes (10 to 11 year olds). I told them what I would be doing for six weeks in Nepal and explained that it was a third world country. Many of the children did not know what “third world” meant. They did not realize that many of the thing we take for granted, such as electricity, indoor plumbing and television are not available everywhere. 

It was my wish to develop a relationship between children in Canada and children in Nepal. The Canadian students were asked to write letters to a potential pen pal in Nepal. They were to tell them a little about themselves and their lives in Canada. They were encouraged to ask questions about their potential pen pals. They were also told about the limited number of school supplies students in Nepal have.  Many of the students donated new and slightly used school supplies to be distributed to children in Nepal. Participation was voluntary for the students. I received over seventy letters and packages of school supplies. The Canadian children were very excited about writing the letters and possibly becoming friends with a Nepali child. The act of selecting and giving school supplies to a child in Nepal was also exciting for them. 

The letters and supplies were distributed to children in three different villages in the Tarai region of Nepal – Amarapuri, Patahani, and Ganganagar.  I brought a set of letters to Amarapuri, where I was placed. I handed out the letters to children approximately the same age as the Canadian students and taught them how to respond to the letters. The Nepali children were really excited about the letters. They could hardly wait to respond. However, they did need to be encouraged to write about the things that they take for granted, such as, having tropical fruit trees, fields where they grow corn, raising goats, buffalo or cows. They were not aware that the children in Toronto, Canada did not have these things. The Nepali children truly enjoyed responding to their new pen pals. Many of them sent presents back in return. 

This experience was a valuable learning experience to the children in both countries on many levels. On the most basic level, the children were able to practice their letter writing skills and their English. However, they were also able to learn about life in a different country and to see their own lives in a different light. Now, I can only hope that some of the children will continue to correspond and become friends.