Sonja’s Volunteer Experience in Nepal

Back in January 2016, our former volunteer, Sonja, embarked on an unforgettable adventure in Nepal. Her meaningful trip left such a positive impact on her, so she decided to commemorate her experience as a volunteer abroad in her book “Siurung, Nepal: The Story of a Volunteer”.

Sonja reached out to us to share her incredible memories with prospective volunteers. See for yourself and have a look at Sonja’s extract from her book!

P.S.: If you decide to buy Sonja’s book, all of the proceeds will go to the school she volunteered at!

Sonja’s Introduction:

Siurung, Nepal

A few years ago, Nepal Good Karma Foundation offered me the chance to spend six weeks in Siurung, Nepal, and help to teach English in the local school. For six weeks, I lived in this small isolated Himalayan village, working with kind courageous people, the Gurungs, and I will always be grateful to them for accepting me and teaching me so much about their values, their culture and the difficulties they face every day.

So I wrote this book to share this life-enhancing and humbling experience with you. At this present moment, some of the children of Siurung are having to survive on one meal a day and need our help. Proceeds from the sales of this book are being donated to Shree Lata Kunja Lower Secondary School, Siurung.

Excerpt from her Book:

Siurung, Nepal.

My first lesson.

On my first day in school, my new Nepali colleagues wasted no time in taking me to a classroom. They were anxious for me to meet the children as soon as possible and curious to see what teaching methods I would use and how the children would react to me. Without giving me any warning, any time for preparing or planning, the whole teaching staff accompanied me to a classroom where around twenty pupils aged six to fourteen were waiting for us. Here is what happened:

“As I realise what is happening, I feel completely out of my comfort zone and panic begins to set in! All my colleagues and I walk into the room where the children are eagerly waiting for us. As soon as the teachers walk in, all the pupils stand. Ramesh greets them, invites them to sit down and explains to them who I am. He then turns to me and indicates that it is now all up to me. Everybody looks at me expectantly: the pupils who all look shy but excited at the same time, and all the teachers who have come in to see what I was going to do. A board marker is placed in my hand in case I wish to write. […] It seems that the first thing to do, as well as the polite thing to do, is to introduce myself using my Nepali name. So I explain who I am and where I have come from and ask them to tell me their names, one at a time. They are very shy when they have to speak on their own and it takes a while for me to hear all the names, Rabindra, Kamal, Anisha, Maya, Pasang, Roshan, Buddhi… beautiful Nepali names […] As they stand up one by one to say their names I listen and smile and thank… and panic! I have never been in such a situation:  I try to find out from my colleagues how long my lesson is supposed to last but no one understands my question, so that in the end I have no idea. Not ideal for effective planning!

[…] I quickly realise I cannot be too ambitious or I will completely undermine what little confidence they have. A little at a time, and do not aim too high to begin with! Aiming high can always come later! Inspiration eventually comes to me: we will have a revision session on “the parts of the body” followed by “The Hokey Cokey”. I realise that it might seem too basic for the older pupils, but […] I might just get away with it.

And thank God, it all goes well in the end. We revise the parts of the body, we revise how to say “right” and “left”. They are shy to begin with but very cooperative and after a few games aimed at consolidating some essential vocabulary, I then ask them if they would like to sing a song. All the pupils promptly agree and the teachers who have remained in the class all nod and smile in approval. I then teach them the song and demonstrate the actions and suggest going outside as the classroom is not very big. Within minutes, all the students and quite a few of the teachers have formed a large circle in the playground and are singing heartily, putting the right feet and hands in and out as the song requires. They sing well, they smile and laugh. The older pupils and the teachers help the little ones and make sure they don’t get their right and left mixed up. My first lesson has been just as much a surprise to me as to everyone else. I know they have had fun, and feel very encouraged by the fact that my Nepali colleagues have joined in. I hope that the children have learnt something and maybe gained in confidence.”

 

What do you think of Sonja’s experience in Nepal? Leave a comment below!

Are you inspired by her trip and now you want to volunteer abroad as well? Then don’t hesitate to contact us in our live chat! We’ll be happy to help you plan your meaningful volunteer adventure!

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