Monday, August 29, 2011

Catching up on the last 2 PoD-weeks!

You know how a dog has seven years for every human year?  I feel like every PoD week is just a day in real life...time goes sooooooooooooooo quickly here!  So, without me even realising it, another 2 weeks have gone by and I haven’t updated anyone.  I had better stop rambling and just get on with telling you about life here hadn’t I???

Bishal, Abisech and Pradip singing at APS
Despite a busy exam schedule, the children at Annurpurna Primary have still been finding the time to work with and enjoy Jane.  She has mostly been working in the nursery class, introducing the little ones to their ABCs and 123s, comforting those still feeling sad when mum or dad drops them off and just generally helping the staff there.  Once the day’s exams are over, the older children also join Jane to play games, sing songs, dance and let off steam after a hard day’s work!  My highlight of the week would have to be the full school hokey-kokey we did with the kids last Monday.  It was very raucous and out of control – I think we scared the smaller children with all of our inning and outing and shaking it all abouting, but on the whole it was just great.

Sarah has been getting on fantastically at Ward 6.  Every day she is in charge of ‘reading time’ with the children.  The staff support the session by keeping everyone quiet and settled whilst Sarah reads aloud to them.  They are running a bit low on new reading material, mostly because the children are ripping up the books, but regardless of the reasons, we are going to arrange for some new children’s books to be donated there. 

One boy at Ward 6 has been showing some particularly aggressive and violent behaviour towards both staff and children.  The staff seem to largely ignore this, resigned to the fact that he is ‘a naughty boy’, however, Sarah has been working hard at modifying this behaviour by using techniques and understandings she has from her work as a Teaching Assistant in the UK.  It is hoped that the staff will pick up on these methods and continue using them after she has left and with children in the future.

Teachers keen to learn at Bhalam
We had a fantastic session at Shree Bhalam Primary School last week.  Louise, our first ever volunteer at the village, is a qualified teacher in the UK and so made great use of her skills and experience by not only teaching the children, but by providing training for staff.  This was an ongoing process throughout the duration of her placement, however, on her final day we travelled there as a team and delivered a training session on how to plan and run interactive classes and make good use of resources.  We were conscious that the school has little budget for or access to specialist resources, so with this in mind we took along a selection of our own homemade resources to demonstrate what can be done with a few bits of paper and coloured pens.  The feedback from the session was great and the school and host family couldn’t say enough good things about Louise.  They are all desperate for another PoD volunteer, so if you think you are up to the challenge of village life, let us know!

There were three new arrivals at the Street Kids which was a little bit tough because new boys are generally hard work.  They want to show off, assert their position in the group and grab all of our resources.  This is largely because they are used to having to take what they can, where they can and are not yet used to the confines and comforts of life in a home.  Thankfully, there were enough of our regular children there to set an example for them.  If the new boys tried to take something away, the other children pulled them back and made them use the resources at the table.  One of the boys started to ‘showcase’ by singing and prancing about.  Sarah turned this around beautifully by getting him to teach her the song, this engaged him and stopped him disrupting the session.  That meant that we could all get on with making spinning tops, a brilliant idea of Jane’s.

Happy faces at Asha
We also took our spinning top project to the Asha Foundation this week.  It was a resounding success there, everyone was decorating and modifying their top for the best aesthetics and performance.  We had children sharpening their sticks, weighting their tops, polishing was quite the operation!  We also spent time watching some ‘Teej’ songs on DVD.  Teej is an upcoming festival celebrated by women in Nepal and we are looking forward to joining in with some dancing, clapping and general merriment in the next week.

Jane and I had a brilliant session at SCIAN.  Our regular client there, Esther, again managed a full introductory conversation which was fab.  She was joined this week by another of SCIAN’s clients who is staying with her for a few weeks whilst completing a vocational training programme.  This meant we could have a more interactive session with both students working together.  We taught the ladies various body parts and then set up a ‘Simon says’ competition between them.  What was particularly good about this was the confidence boost it gave to Esther.  Her English skills were clearer higher than those of her friend meaning she generally won each game.  It was great to see how much more confident she grew throughout the session, a big chance for an otherwise extremely shy and meek lady.

Other things that have kept us amused this week have been the 7 a-side football tournament that finished with the victors and all of their supporters careening around town on their motorcycles, waving flags, trophies, banners, football tops and cheering, screaming and singing in celebration.  Jane got a smile and some enthusiasm from a child who has been glum and disengaged in sessions so far.  Sarah has been making friends all over town by striking up conversations with random folk in bookshops, restaurants, cafes...she has also been making friends with some local people, teaching English to new Nepali guides whilst kayaking on the lake.  This is a great way to get the most out of Lakeside, taking advantage of the many activities available and getting to know the local community at the same time.

Tips and advice for future volunteers
·         Prepare for your placement.  If you are planning to teach, really think about and research effective teaching methods, lesson ideas, resources and classroom management techniques.  If you arrive at your placement unprepared it will be uncomfortable and difficult for you, but more importantly it will damage the education of those you have travelled here to support.  If you need ideas or guidance on where to find such information, talk to us!

·         We could really do with some new books.  We have a fair few basic books for young children and complete beginners, however, we work with several children who are quite proficient at English and could benefit from something more complicated.  If you are coming to join us anytime soon, try to bring some story books aimed at children aged around 7-10 that have good stories, but simple language and short paragraphs.

If you would like to join our team and help with the good work we are doing in Nepal, please contact the UK office for more information on how to book.  If you want to hear about what past volunteers have to say, visit our testimonials page.

We look forward to seeing you soon!

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