Gatlang village – July/August 2007

I arrived in Kathmandu unsure of where I wanted to do my placement; it was easier to decide having spoken with the INFO staff, other volunteers and having read reports from past volunteers. I chose to do my placement in Gatlang, which is a remote village up in the mountains. We took a 10-hour bus ride to Syabrubesi, where we stayed overnight, then trekked to Gatlang, which took about 5 hours.

The village itself is very basic, but the views are amazing, as long as you go at certain times of the year. During monsoon season, the village is mostly surrounded in cloud so don't expect the views of the peaks that you hoped for. Although, when the cloud does clear, the views are amazing. It also rained every day, although not all day, and during the night, making the walk to school muddy, but eventful!

The resource centre is part of the school, and the host, Durga, has the bags with writing equipment, picture cards, paper etc. There is quite a lot of stuff there to use with the kids.

We arrived during the school holidays so we chose what hours we taught and how often. It's best to stick to a routine if possible, as it's difficult to pass messages on when nearly everyone in the village speaks Tamang rather than Nepali…We taught from 7-10 in the morning and 4-6 in the afternoon. Generally, we taught from 7-8, then had a short break, then taught for another 30-45 mins, then played some games. The younger ones find it hard to concentrate for much longer.

The children vary in age from about 4-11 and we found it best to split them into 2 groups – not necessarily age, but ability. It's only possible to do this after you've worked out which ones are more able though…generally the ones who shout out first when you ask for an answer to something! They also tend to specialise in repetition, rather than just listening first; it seems to be the way they do things in the school. We spent time on the alphabet, which they can recite well from start to finish, but they're not so good at naming random letters if you point to them. We also did work on numbers, body parts, animals, family, and basic English phrases, eg 'What is your name?' 'How many people are there in your family?' Games like Hokey-cokey, H S K and Toes work well, and they love to throw a ball if you have one!

The host family is the best there is in Nepal! Durga is a trekking guide, so if you can, get him to take you on a long (or short) trek locally. His wife is great, and constantly keeps your plate full at mealtimes…They have two children, Rosila and Pemba, who are very young. Rosila is a little shy, but loves to draw if you have some paper/pens with you.

The children in the village are all keen and very friendly, and enthusiastic about lessons/playing. The locals are curious, but friendly nevertheless; there always seem to be people in the house coming to see who the latest volunteers are!

It is a great location, enjoy!