Natalia Crameri and Jessica Schmid
Also this year the college of education in Chur got to send two of its students with Urs and Dora Frey to Nepal. We couldn't believe our luck, when we got accepted for this extraordinary internship. Excited about the trip, we had booked our flight to Kathmandu for the end of October. The former interns and Dora and Urs themselves gave us some information about Nepal and its culture, as well as the current situation in the country. Since summer this year, the borders to India bad been been blocked and for that the import/export of goods like medical supplies, gasoline, diesel or cooking gas is almost impossible and strongly controlled. Furthermore the new constitution caused conflicts in the south of Nepal, which the whole country is suffering of.
When we met Dora and Urs after our arrival in Kathmandu, they told, us that the riots we still going on and thatfor their assignment in Birgunj had been canceled. Luckily three other schools in a city called „Dhandhing“ close to Kathmandu, were also interested in the support of our two experts. Already the next day we were picked up by a driver who, in a somehow adventurous but safe way, brought us to Dhadhing. It only took us half the time it usually takes to get there, since there were almost no vehicles on the street due to the gasoline shortage. In the city itself we became more and more aware of the dimensions of the whole crisis. In private houses as well as in our homey hotel, people cooked on open fires. Therefore the waiting time for our meals might had been increased a few times, but we used the chance for getting to know each other better and playing cards and dice games.
We got to support Urs and Dora Frey in their work in the „New Kibou Boarding School“ and the „Children Park Higher Secondary Boarding School“. We observed the teachers in their individual lessons and tried to help them finding new ideas for their classes and to improve their teaching styles by using new methods. In doing so, we were able to see first changes and achievements during the assessment. The „Advance Academy“ surprised us in an especially positive way, by offering sport activities to their students before and after class. We made use of that ourselves and played table tennis, basketball or volleyball together with the students. We are convinced, that some very committed colleagues in all schools will continue sharing our ideas of good tuition and support the implementation of it.
We had left Dhading in the middle of Tihar, a Hindi festival and arrived in Kathmandu at „Gai Tihar“, the day to worship the cow. The city was decorated in beautiful colors and lights and people drew nice symbols on the street using mineral pigments. Also the atmosphere of the following days was filled with traditional music and Newar dances in the streets. Right at this ceremonial time Celia arrived. She had worked with Urs and Dora already the year before. All together we set off to a very long way towards the west of Nepal, heading to the „Stepping Stone English School“ in Dhangadhi-Kailali.
After two days on nepalese dirt roads, we finally got used to the risky driving style and the organized chaos on the streets. Since the principal of the school himself acoompanied us in our car, to make sure his „Meitschis“ would arrive savely, we knew we were in good hands.
Our accommodation was as colorful as the people living in it cheerful. We've been spoiled with traditional meals, on our days off we were entertained with trips and festivals in the region. We felt very comfortable in this familial atmosphere, which increased also our anticipation for the first day at school.
After we've had the chance to get to know the nepalese school system a little better, we discussed further approaches for the SSES with Dora and Urs. Corresponding to their advice, we got to plan and hold our own workshop about classroom management. The participants still had a lot of previous knowledge about the topic and devoted themselves to the activities we had prepared for them. The result and end product of the workshop was a big mind map with all the „Must knows“ about classroom management on it.
In our next workshop, we wanted to encourage the teachers to use more games in their classes to freshen it up for the students. According to our motto „let them do it“, we organized a games night together with Dora, where all the introduced games were tested by the teachers afterwards. It was easy for the group to put themselves into the situation of the children and they were obviously having fun doing so. All the material needed for the games like Domino, Memory or „City, country, river“ we put together in a box, which was later available in the teachers office. We were pleased to see, that the very next day half the material was beeing used and that we even had to buy some more.
In the further process of our assignment we continued visiting teachers in their individual classes and supported a new pen pal project which had been started with schools in Switzerland. Additionally we got to observe how Urs had successfully established the use of a microscope, which appealed the teachers as well as the students. With her passion for toddlers Dora still had the confidence from all the pre-primary teachers and even managed new toys for the nursery. Her workshops were as popular as always and had lots of visitors. Leaving Dhangadhi was, because of personal relations and new friendships, not easy. We will never forget the evenings on the badminton court, the „family“- trips and we'll especially miss the friendly „Good morning Mam“.
Working at the schools was sometimes hard and challenged us in many ways. But we've come to love the people in Nepal, which despite the difficult situation in their country, had always been friendly, cooperative and very open. Not only for the children, which played badminton with us hour after hours, we hope that we were able to conduct our part for a better future of the education in Nepal.
We highly respect people like Dora and Urs, which hold on to this dream and unremitting fight for it. We are very thankful to have gotten the chance to share this experience with them.