Jack Suridge - General Teaching Projects in Nepal
After finishing my year 12 studies, I didn’t feel ready to go straight into university without taking a break. I decided to take some time out and joined a Teaching Project in Nepal for five weeks. My goal was to learn as much as I could and, of course, gain some perspective about my future.
Arriving in Nepal
In mid-November, I landed in Kathmandu to start my placement. Upon arrival, I was greeted at the airport by a driver who took me to the hotel where Projects Abroad was based. At the hotel, I met with other volunteers and supervisors for a meeting and information session about the upcoming weeks. We then spent the afternoon exploring the local area and taking in as much of the culture as we could.
The next morning, I was taken to my host family to meet them and spend the day settling in. There were three other volunteers staying with the same family who were all from different parts of the world. It was great to get to know them and talk to them about the projects they were doing and how they were going. That afternoon the other volunteers showed me around the area where I would be spending the next five weeks.
My Teaching placement
The next day was my first day at my placement. I was shown the way to the school which was only a 15-minute walk from my host family. Upon arriving at the school I met with the principal who spoke very good English. He gave me some background information about the school and the children and together we devised a day-to-day programme on what I would do based on my interests and experience. It was immediately obvious to me that I would learn a lot over the next few weeks and that I would gain a lot from my experiences, not only with the family and the school but also with Nepal and Nepalese culture in general.
After a few days at the school, I began to feel much more at home and much more aware of what to expect each day, that’s not to say that every day didn’t present challenges but on the whole, I knew what to expect. A typical day at the school for me started at 8.30 am when I arrived at the school and greeted the children and teachers. I would then teach my classes, which was usually maths or English. My class sizes were generally between 10 and 15 students. At 11 am I would have a break for an hour where I would either sit in the staff room practising my Nepalese and talking to some of the other teachers or I would go for a walk, exploring the nearby neighbourhood. I would then take a maths or science class.
Lunch was at 1 pm, and I would join the other staff members for tea and local Nepalese food, which was provided to me by the school and the other teachers. Lunchtime at the school was a great opportunity to socialise with the other teachers and eat some beautiful local cuisine. In the afternoons I generally ran either a game of soccer or cricket, each day I would take a different class for this activity. I would finish the day at around 3- 3.30pm then I would walk back to my host family for an evening meal, usually followed by some games with the family and the other volunteers.
My host family and free time
The food provided by my host family was simple but delicious. We often ate the same meal for breakfast and dinner, which took a few days to get used to, but there was plenty of food and it was always full of flavour. We also had a shop directly downstairs where we could buy other things to eat and drink if we wanted. The accommodation was basic but was comfortable and clean. I shared a room with one other volunteer from Germany, whom I got to know very well.
Life in general at the placement was very relaxed and enjoyable. The host family treated me like their own and the students and teachers at the school were always happy to see me and would go out of their way to do whatever they could to help me out. The other great thing about the placement was that my weekends were free to do whatever I wished. Some weekends the other volunteers and I would go into the city and stay at a hostel. Other weekends we travelled a bit further afield and explored some of the other things Nepal has to offer. One weekend we stayed with the family and they took us with them to do their weekly grocery shopping, which was quite an experience.
All-in-all my trip to Nepal was an experience that I will never forget. The people I met, both locals and the other volunteers, are some of the most genuine people that I have ever met and many of them are people that I will stay in contact with for a long time to come. I also learned a lot more about myself that I could have ever anticipated and it was an experience that has inspired me to continue to travel and learn about the amazing and diverse cultures and people of the world.
To future and prospective volunteers, I would say it doesn’t matter where you go or what you do but make the most of every opportunity while you are there, interact with as many different people as you can and see as many different things as possible. It will be an experience that you will never forget!