teachers prepare for volunteer placements in Nepal

By Kate Stefanko. Filed in articles by people and places, project news, Uncategorized, volunteer stories  |  
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Three UK teachers – Nicki, Evelyn & Lorna – have been talking with each other for months in

Nicki Eve and Lorna -and yes that's the view at Tiger Mountain!

preparation for their placements in Amar Jyoti School. All 3 were able to meet in Leeds last month, and there’s been lots of emailing to and from, with our local partners at Tiger Mountain joining in too!

It’s fantastic to read all their ideas of what to take /what not to take, how their placements have been taking shape – Nicki began her placement on 19th October, and has now been joined by Evelyn and Lorna.

I’m not going to reprint ALL the email correspondence (at the moment, we’re up to a good pamphlet size, but I suspect there will be quite a tome by the end of December!) but the various extracts below will give you a pretty good idea about the level of detail, discussion and sharing that’s going on among the volunteers and our local project management team!

Nicki – 29th October
Very briefly, some sort of card for playing pelmanism with the little ones and plastic alphabet and number templates to help the children make their own displays would be very useful.
Have just visited a truly inspirational Montessori school in Pokhara with Marcus and others…. it CAN be done out here!

Evelyn 29th October
I’ll see what I can find. It occurs to me that there were – or at least was – one Montessori school in Kathmandu, so where do they find their resources? Is there a local supplier or agent that we could tap into? If so, are there cost implications? Carry on enjoying!

Lorna – 29th October
I’ve been looking online at educational suppliers (Galt, Arnold, NES etc.) for plastic templates – couldn’t find exactly what I was looking for – lots of magnetic ones and some rather expensive mirror ones – however I’ll keep looking. I’ve got a set of small wooden letters which would be good for drawing round.
These sites also give you plenty of ideas for number/word /pelmanism/bingo/matching games etc.

Evelyn 29th October
I’ve been looking too! The only number templates I could find were on the Absorbent Minds web-site. They are bright red and wooden, but it doesn’t say how big they are. And I found some wooden letter templates – upper and lower case – on the Galt site which look interesting … if you think they’d be useful, I’d be happy to buy them. But I couldn’t find any cards for pelmanism. Let me know what you think

Lorna – 29th October
I’m beginning to think some DIY with bright card and a laminator (something I’ve been meaning to buy anyway) is the way forward. Looking at all these sites is mind boggling however all this research has been useful as I’ve come across lots of very simple ideas, games etc to help with number, letter recognition etc. – one such site is www.childrens-books-and-reading.com – work sheets are pretty dreadful but lots of ideas.

Nicki – 31st October
Guess what?   It’s another holiday tomorrow!   At this rate I will only have worked a few days before you are both here to join me!   At least it gives me the opportunity to get in touch with you all.
I have decided to send you some paragraphs from my diary… it might give you a little more insight, and cutting and pasting saves me having to use up precious internet time.   Don’t worry about bringing over too much – perhaps it ‘swamps’ the teachers and as Marcus has mentioned, much can be made/bought locally
DIARY :
I spent the afternoon sorting out what would be useful and putting it all in the primary school ‘staff room’.  It was a very dirty job as everything was covered in so much dust. Will try and get cardboard boxes from the Lodge to store it appropriately.
The school staff does not want to put up posters on the wall.  They think it encourages the children to write on them, pull them down and be generally disruptive.   I suggested high up out of reach but then thought that perhaps that would encourage moving benches to get to them?   I will move towards the idea slowly but it gives you some idea …
We have discussed before that our help would be utilised best in the lower classes … When there are 3 of us perhaps we will be able to work out a timetable to suit all.

Nicki – 1st November
I will try to keep this brief …  Marcus is a star and has this morning provided me with a dongle to get online at the Lodge.   At the moment I am writing from town again as it is yet another holiday.
I just wanted to say not to spend money on more resources.  Most can be obtained/made out here.
Today I passed piles of old tyres and thought how wonderful it would be if we could get some up to the playground to create a more stimulating environment.   I am so excited about this, and other ideas, and looking forward to your arrival when together we may be able to implement some of these!

Lorna – 1st November
You’re doing a brilliant job and it’s great to hear you sounding so enthusiastic – can’t wait to get to Tiger Mountain and see for myself what’s going on despite the problems!

Nicki – 1st November
aagh…..just spoken to Hari and car tyres are sold for other uses… oh well, it seemed like a good idea at the time.   Will wait for the next inspiration!

Evelyn 1st November
But there’s lots of bamboo. Outdoor play equipment?

Conversation continues, and then our local partner, Marcus at Tiger Mountain joins in too!
Marcus 3rd November
Dear all,
I think Nicki’s inspirations are great – do not be bowled over by the “challenges” that working in a Nepali government school presents. I think my greatest advice is remember that all the volunteers are part of a continuum and so set yourselves small targets for achievement – “baby steps” – and these will all build to achieve the long term goals. Inevitably there is a significant “two steps forward….” factor but, with perseverance and persistence, things will evolve; indeed much has developed since the start a year ago. Much can be done with simple local resources – general stationery items are available cheaply in Pokhara as are some educational materials, posters, etc. I think the challenge I want to pose to you all is to initiate debate with the teachers and the headmaster about where the programme is going and what all the parties wish to derive from it. At the moment it has been more classroom demonstration work – now I suspect we have to bring in more common room debate and discussion to focus minds and develop some shared ownership of the vision and objectives.
In discussion with Nicki, we are veering back towards greater focus on the primary side and suggesting time in the secondary side is focused on conversational English / general studies time with the older children to show teachers how even a general studies type period can be utilised to teach both English and the specific matters.
All this is food for thought and not meant to be at all prescriptive – with a strong team of Lorna, Evelyn and Nicki, I am certain that the challenges will be intellectually stimulating and fun!
All good wishes and see you soon.
Yours sincerely,
Marcus

and the volunteers are now in situ here theyare with class 5-6 and teachers

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