Thursday, January 15, 2015

Rural Nepal: More schools

The second day I showed up to the school and was a little bit worried. I knew today was the day they wanted me to teach English but I wasn’t sure what they wanted me to teach. And in typical Nepali fashion they had no idea. But they brought me to the grade two classroom, handed me a marker, and then left, with me alone in charge. I figured that would happy, so I launched into teacher mode. Somehow I am used to this and knew what to do. I picked a song, wrote out the words on the board, we spelled them out and then sang and danced. We did everything, and even ended with learning all kids of verbs like sit, stand, play, jump, and clap. I would yell out the word and kids would do the action in English. It was nothing but easy since the children clearly have learned no English yet. However, they were so excited to see me there in their school that they hung off every word I said, and repeated every single action I did.  I ended with high-fives from the whole group, which I had to teach them to do since its not a Nepali concept. I left the class to applause and cries of “pheri aaunus pheri aanus”. Yes of course I would be back as soon as I could.


 The rest of the day was instructed at school as typical. After my interviews during break, I noticed that basically all the teachers were in the office, and none of them where in the classrooms. So I stood up and walked into the grade 1 class. These were the first kids I met and they were so happy to have me in their room.  I decided to take control of the classroom, and lead them from an hour and 15 minute long hodge podge of activities and songs. I sang and danced every children’s song I could think of, usually multiple times. Moving from sitting and  doing isty bitsy spider to standing and jumping up and down to the hokey pokey. I even added Gymboree songs and the longer this went on the more it seemed like a Gymboree class where all the students didn’t speak English. When I ran out of songs, the kids were still standing there, at attention, ready to copy any movement I made. I pulled some English books of the shelf, and some nepali books, and before I knew it I was reading to some kids, and the other kids were looking through books on their own.    The strangest part was, not a single Nepali teacher came back to take over the class. I didn’t want them to miss out on learning, so I was going to stay there with them as long as I could, give them my attention, make them smile, and hopefully teach them something. When the books were becoming boring I led them through the songs one more time, a couple of round of ring-around- the rosey, which want they figured it out became the funniest thing every, and somehow timed “gymbo waves bye bye bye” for exactly when the bell was ringing. I came out of the school compound and started high fiving my students as they left. Within seconds I had a crowd of sweet beautiful faced Nepali children, in worn down and dusty blue school uniforms with loving eyes and dirty hands swarming me for hi fives. “Miss Miss Miss” they screamed as they held out their right hand. I got most of the group, and yelled my salutes of goodbye as they went up the hill. I walked up the hill with others and the whole way they were asking for high-fives, holding my hands, and waving to me. It was finally happening, they were accepting me.  I want to be like them, treated equal and them to see that I am not here to judge them, to act better than them, but simply to live alongside them.

            Within one day I went from a spectacle to a local celebrity. Today I really got into my job of teaching in the schools, and suddenly, I was known by everyone. On my evening walk today every kid I passed from school ran up and smiled- ready to give me a massive high-five. Parents no longer stared but waggled their heads in approval at the gaggle of kids who are thrilled to follow me around. I even got followed back up to my room by 4 kids demanding “bholi bholi hamro class pheri aunuhunchha?” Can you come back to our class tomorrow? I said of course I would be back soon, and they all high-fived me in return.

Day 3 at schools was also fun. We went to another primary school about an hour away on foot. Once we arrived we had to go through the whole process of introducing be again which is rather long. They always want to know my introduction as they say. I sat with the teachers and explained were I was from, we looked at the globe, and talked about America. Its so interesting to me that when I come to the schools they don’t care that I am their to ask them questions. They will give me whatever answers I want as long as they can ask me questions. How is this different than schools in America? Are schools in America very good? Why are they good? Is our teaching here good? What can we do better?

It’s like I’m the definitive answer to all their problems. And I answer as diplomatically as possible. After questions and interviews, I went into the classrooms of all 6 grades and did my 15-minute singing dancing program that has now become routine. It starts with head shoulders knees and toes tand ends with if you’re happy and you know with isty bisty spider, Gymboree songs, and the hokey pokey in between.


 One of my favorite moments of that day might have been the moment when two tiny little three-year-old girls stood up from their preschool classroom, and began to dance a Nepali dance for me. It was so well done for someone so young, so beautiful, and so gosh darn adorable that I was diminished to laughter and tears of joy within seconds.


  My forth day brought me to my forth school. After wandering in and out of classes I found myself in the grade one class.  Typical of me: always drawn to the littlest kids. The sweet little ones stared at me.  There was one little girl in the back of the class near my chair who had adorableness that could kill: plump cheeks and her hair in pigtails spouting out of her head.  I would look at her and smile, and she would burst into giggles and turn away to bury he head in her friends lap. Finally I moved to the floor next to here. The children’s reaction was hilarious. They were so curious about me but didn’t want to get to close. They would look at me, but if I looked back too long they would laugh, scoot back and turn away, never wanting to get to close. This little cat and mouse game continued on for most of the class period, and I just couldn’t help scooting closer and closer, allowed for more giggles, more scurrying, and the hilarity of their fear of getting too close to a white person.  

Every day brings a new day at school, and a new incredible happy adventure. Every school brings teachers’ curious questions, and children’s’ delighted faces as I do my little English song and dance routine I know have perfectly down. I taught in every classroom of all 8 schools I went to. That totaled up to about 51 English lessons. And so the days passed, with school and play, singing, interviews, afternoon walks, and evenings over a fire in the kitchen.

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