Local Travel is the perfect catalyst for happiness, as it has allowed me to experience the natural, cultural and man-made wonders of the world. – Huffington Post
Exactly, Viktoria was looking for a local travel. She truly wanted to see the real Nepal through her own eyes. I told her about our School Volunteer Tour, which is a special day tour. She was fascinated with the idea while we had coffee together. Viktoria, all the way from Lienz, Austria, couldn’t wanted to wait more for this local activity. She told me she will confirm it once she met with her friend Delphin. She was happy with our good price and confirmed it immediately.
The next morning, she was waiting for us, excited for this special day. It’s not pretext, she did not succeed so far to see any local things which are not touristic, but local and real Nepali, she said. Though it was just 60 km from Kathmandu, Nallu and Mahankaal Elementary School were like far flung villages, with no easy access of transportation and all with simple facilities. We had to take another route as the main road was on reconstruction. Viktoria liked the road and the jungle drive, and Delphin’s heart was pounding with excitement.
Our cool driver Hira stopped for us to take nice photo shots en route. The clear weather, nice landscapes can attract everybody and the special fresh air of this remote area was just amazing. The little kids and school people were keen to see all of us and were communicating time and again. It made them more excited. Crossing some small mountains and leaving nice villages made our tourists feel like home. Viktoria told us that her grandmother is living in the mountains and she is happy to remember her through some curving roads.
The car stopped, and we started walking. After 15 minutes walk, we crossed a small river, and felt like we are exploring adventurous roads to reach school.Victoria and Delphin were exhilarating with warm welcome of Red Tika and Khada by the school staff. Their expressions were subtle meanings. Ram Bahadur expressed words of thanks for accepting this tour of Vistas Himalaya, who are supporting of any kind. Then, he led us for an observation tour of school. It was good that the building was reconstructed already, and children were happy inside the rooms as rainfall is not going to disturb them at all.
Delphin said there’s a lack of infrastructures; open toilet, no proper desks or benches, and the facilities are not child friendly. Sharmila, the math teacher, said it is in process and the local government will be helping soon. They exchanged their ideas of teaching at school and specially dealing with students of young age. They came to know different techniques of teaching.
Both of them took classes, the children were super friendly and learned easily from the flash cards and small gifts of stationery. Rabin was the most talented among them as Viktoria found, and his handwriting was just amazing. They were a little nervous before, but, after a while, the children were following them though their communication as if it was a sign language to some extent. Roshan was excited to speak by heart our national anthem “Saiyou thunga phulka hami autai mala Nepali = Hundred flowers one garland we all Nepali” Some were missing the words and small kids were pronouncing differently, but they were delighted to raise their voices (singing)
In a chart paper, Viktoria gave thema question: “How old are you?” Most of the pupils easily wrote their names. She found out that it’s easier for them to write rather than speak, and on the other hand, the little kids found it hard to understand what she is telling when she asked: “How old are you?” Some of them replied: “My name is Sita”, but Roshan said it perfectly: “I am 10 years old”. Delphin was playing with a cute baby, he was there with his sister since their parents were on the field and nobody was able to take care of him. It is the responsibility of Shanti, his sister. Needless to say, he was grabbing all chocolates when she gave them… 🙂
Viktoria said: “Learning can be defined as making a permanent change in your cognition and behavior”. Sabina, the English teacher, couldn’t agree more. She earnestly asked her to stay at that school for a longer period. “Always, there’s a next time” I happily answered. Since they were on a day tour, they could definitely think about a next time.
It was Vistas Himalaya’s impression that whoever takes this School Volunteer Tour can go back home with deep memories which help them to come back again either for volunteer at school or for visiting other places. These tours are specially designed for people who do not have more time to explore many things or who indeed are looking for some authentic villages where children are deprived from education and do not have opportunity to learn in a simple environment. Of course, teachers are practicing the dogmatic way, so it is also a great help for local teachers to interact with foreigners. On top of that, if they desire to help kids and school, they are heartily welcomed. Nonetheless, non-teachers or anyone can enjoy this day tour.
The young friends felt good about taking a social research like this. It was a wonderful time for learning about a local school. The local children and teachers were happy to see foreigners as nobody has reached that place for teaching. “Learning from them is like a dream”, Sapana said. And they were overwhelmed with the great smiles of the children. The significant part of this tour was that they could exchange their ideas of learning and teaching. Sapana has never heard of Austria but she had seen some Americans at her maternal uncle’s village “Shankhu” when she was there on her Dashain holiday (the biggest festival of Nepal).
Our lunch was ready and of course, it was Nepali local style. The young ladies liked chicken curry very much. Delphin said she ate too much as it was mouth watering, especially the local lentil soup. The rice was too heavy for them, but Viktoria liked vegetables very much. It was organic potato and only produced from their fields. The food was prepared especially for them and they said they couldn’t forget the delicious taste. They coined “the royal meal” was just amazing and wanted to taste it time and again.
After a small farewell speech and experience sharing with teachers and villages, it was time to go back to Kathmandu. They promised to come back again and the kids followed them all the way to the river, saying a big “Namaste”. Victoria and Delphin claimed “It is the best day in Nepal”.