Each Summer the HVP Schools benefit from the support and energy of groups of student volunteers from Oxford, Cambridge and Durham universities. Received shortly before the tragic news about Lottie Fullerton became known, this lovely update from one of the Summer 2017 groups gives an insight into the current challenges and developments in the HVP schools, and the experience of UK volunteers being welcomed into the HVP family for the first time.
We arrived around the 1st of July, over a couple of days. Upon arrival, Ghanshyam sir, Vishnu sir and everybody at Central very warmly welcomed us with dinner and an amazing prayer session. While waiting for everybody to arrive, they suggested to us a few things to check out in Kathmandu - first and foremost Swayambhunath.
Once everybody had arrived we split up into teaching pairs and shadowed some lessons, in order to get a feel for how things are run and the style of teaching the children are used to. By the 5th July we were leading lessons. The usual teachers were always around to help out, answer any questions, and provide guidance on discipline and content. We taught a mixture of English, Maths, Science and Social classes across Classes 5-10, writing mid-term exams and finishing up teaching on 24th July.
We were treated to Nepali Teachers’ Day quite soon after arriving. It was spectacular, and unlike anything any of us had ever experienced before (see photos). We also would particularly like to stress how much we’ve enjoyed interacting, helping with homework, and just hanging out with the hostellers. Nightly prayer sessions are inspirational and entertaining, and seeing them grow more comfortable with us and learning songs, music and dances we’ve taught them has been extremely rewarding. Time has flown by as we’ve been keeping very busy. In addition to teaching we’ve spent our weekdays playing outside with the children, helping the hostellers with homework and with preparing to perform at prayer sessions.
On the weekends we’ve taken the opportunity to see some more of Nepal, visiting Shivapuri national park, Changu Narayan temple, Bahaktapur, Chandragiri Hills, and of course Kathmandu and Patan. Ghanshyam and Vishnu sirs’ recommendations for places to visit and how to get to them have been invaluable. We would like to mention the amazing hospitality we’ve been shown by everyone at Central both by staff and students. We have been extremely well fed, the food is delicious and there’s always loads of it! Tea-time is my personal favourite time of day. It’s a great chance to have a tonne of biscuits and catch up with the other volunteers, teachers and hostellers about how our days have been. We’re split across two bedrooms, girls on the third floor opposite the nursery, and boys upstairs in the senior boys’ room, opposite the prayer hall. I understand a few options were considered for where we’d be accommodated given the recent shortage of space, but we’d like to emphasise that we’re very comfortable (and grateful to the senior boys for lending us their space). It’s not cramped at all, and we’ve had a really great time together. Living in the school has been a wonderful experience, and has given us the opportunity to spend more time with the children and staff. We’ve loved joining in with their daily activities, such as evening prayers and morning yoga. It’s felt like we’ve become a small part of their huge, wonderful family - a really amazing thing to be part of and have experienced.
In terms of the general outlook of the school, the atmosphere is very positive and enthusiastic. The children are keen to learn, both about their curriculum and about the difference between their lives and ours. The staff are tremendously friendly and helpful, and in their spare time have given a few of us some lessons in Sanskrit and Nepali. There is also great excitement about the new building, which I understand is due to begin construction in the autumn. The volunteers are very keen for this to go ahead, and I think unanimously would like our respective donations to go towards the project. We’re also going to create a newsletter/report about our time here, with some articles and photos from both us and the students. Hopefully this will benefit HVPN-UK in their fundraising efforts for new building. We’d like HVPN-UK to know that we’re keen to do all we can to help get the project off the ground, because we’ve seen first hand what an absolutely huge impact on the quality of life and teaching at the school it will have. Notably, new teaching facilities would help get class sizes down from often about 40 children. Everyone we speak to at the school is very excited about the project.
Tom, Fran, Sid, Ed, Solly, Tisha, Mariah and Ela