Name: Christina Manriquit (US)
Program: Teaching English in School and Monastery.
1. What did your average day look like?
Class with little monks (grade 1) or tutor older monk from 8-9am. Substitute for science teacher at Himalayan Deep School 9:45 – 11:55 (grades 6 7 and 8). Class with older child monks (level 4) 4-5pm. Dinner at 7pm, lunch at 12:00, breakfast at 7am. Bed time at 9pm. Sunday – Thursday I volunteered. No afternoon class at monastery on Fridays.
2. Other things I did on my placement.
Hike to White Gumba, but closed for 1 year for earthquake repairs. On Fridays and Saturdays, I went sightseeing in Kathmandu, Thamel.
3. What are some of the issues or challenges you faced?
There were bugs in the apartment- cockroaches in my room. I had to buy bug spray. The bathroom was not as clean as I would have liked. Electricity + Internet outages were challenging because I used the internet and printer to prepare my lessons. There was little to no instruction by staff at school or monastery what to teach and what the children already knew and needed to learn. But overall it was a good learning experience in how to be flexible and creative.
4. Advice to next volunteer going to your placement?
Be flexible – rigid lesson plans don’t work. Make teaching as fun as possible- just as much play as learning.
Little monks love to draw and play with little cards. Lessons incorporating these activities were very popular.
Children are very wild and unruly at first but they settle down once they get to know the volunteer more and you make the lessons fun and engaging.
Don’t be afraid to be very creative in your lesson plans or to take risk! (safe risks of course…)
5. Would you volunteer at this placement again?
I would like to volunteer at another Buddhist monastery possibly but live there instead of living outside the monastery.
6. Would you volunteer at this organization again?
Yes- Durga and her family are very nice, friendly, helpful, and reliable and they genuinely care for their volunteers and the Nepal is who benefit for the programs.
7. Suggestion or problem?
Ask volunteers to keep a reward of the lessons they taught and the materials they used. This will be helpful for next volunteer and the children too. Make a bathroom cleaning schedule.
8. Please write a Journal-type entry of you experience now. This will be for our monthly newsletter & also for our future Volunteers. It will be better roughly one full page.
I arrived at airport al 4am May 7. Durga arrived with a taxi to pick me up. I stayed at Hotel Lily for next 3 nights. There were 3 days of Nepali Language classes taught by Durga for 2-3 hours each day. The lessons were just the right amount of basic information to get around Nepali. There was sightseeing in the afternoon after classes with Divya, Durga’s daughter for 2 hours. We went to Monkey Temple, Bouddhanath, and Durbar Square. I went trekking for 2 weeks and did a meditation retreat, then came to stay at Durga’s apartment in Raniban, Kathmandu. The monastery and school where I taught were a 10 minute walk from Durga’s house. I ate all my meals at Durga’s because she is a great cook! Dinner time her two children were there too. Weekends (Friday and Saturday), I would take the micro bus or taxi to Thamel and other parts of Kathmandu. Two Spanish volunteers arrived my last week and we went hiking in the nearby forest twice. Days were relaxed and there was plenty of time to prepare for lessons. I stopped going to teach at the Himalayan School because they had exams and there was no class. The last night the volunteers and Durga and her children went out to eat at restaurant nearby. It was very good.
Overall, had a lovely experience Durga and her family are very kind people. They are welcoming to foreigner and accommodating to their different needs and cultures. I really enjoyed talking to them and getting to know them.