Friday, October 9, 2009

It was a challenge, it was hugely rewarding.

I volunteered with VSSN for two months, helping children with English at an orphanage in Kathmandu, then teaching at a school in a small, rural village called Puma. On arrival, the staff at VSSN made me feel completely comfortable - and this continued with regular contact through my placements. I had an absolutely amazing experience.

Working in the orphanage involved helping the children with their homework and of course playing lots of games! I've never met such mature, hard-working, loving and respectful little people! I also made great friends with the staff there - it was a privilege to meet such wonderful, giving, loving people.

In Puma, I lived with a local family while teaching at the local primary school. My host family made me feel instantly at home - which was awesome because being in rural Nepal was very different from Kathmandu. This was my first experience with teaching and although it was a challenge, it was hugely rewarding. I recommend going with lots of games up your sleeve to keep the lessons interesting - I soon learnt that maths is boring old maths no matter where you're from and who's teaching it! I will also say that it can get very lonely in a small village - not many people spoke English so learning a little bit of Nepali proved invaluable for making friends with the local people, who were so much fun! Overall, it was an amazing experience - I got to provide much-needed help in teaching English, spend time in a part of Nepal tourists don't often see (with beautiful views of the Himalayas), meet some amazing people, learn Nepali (which helped when I travelled around Nepal later on), and experience and understand Nepali culture.

Thank you for the opportunity Matrika - what you do is truly inspiring. I've been gone nearly two weeks now but I miss Nepal and all the wonderful people I met so much. I really hope I have the opportunity to return sometime soon!

Kimberley Smyth - New Zealand (living in the UK)

Tuesday, October 6, 2009

Right now I am in USA

Hi Matrika.
Thanks again for finding a good place for me in Dhupu -- it was just what I was looking for. Right now I am back in the USA and will start classes tomorrow. I had an okay trip through India, but some things went unexpectedly. Fortunately it was nothing too bad.

I hope business picks up for you again soon. I also put my photos from this trip to Nepal here if you are curious to see them.

The book you lent to me -- your Nepali study book -- almost came back with me. But I realized that I still had it before I got out of the taxi to the airport, and the driver said he would do me a favor and give it back to you. I hope it made it back to the Millennium and is being used by a new volunteer now.

Thanks again and stay in touch! The future is unknown, but I hope to work with you again!

John Fuhrman

Friday, July 31, 2009

Nepal- an unforgettable experience

Miss. Sinie Huang

I was searching for a volunteer program that helps improve the education in a developing Asian country and found the Teaching in Schools and Orphanages program of VSSN a big match with my original expectation. So came my 12-day visit to Nepal with my friend Nan in July 2009, which turned out to be a nice and unforgettable experience.
For the first two days we stayed in the Millennium Hotel in Kathmandu. We studied basic Nepalese in the morning and visited some famous touring sites in the afternoons, some of them being world heritage.
On the third day we were taken to a village called Chapagaun where we lived with a local family and taught in Emerald Secondary English School. Our host family was very hospitable and we had nice communications in simple Nepali and English. It was also fun to learn eating with our right hand rather than chopsticks in accordance with the Nepalese tradition. At school we taught students of class 5 and 6. Different from the students we saw in a government school, children in this school were very active and eager to learn. They were especially kean to know about other countries in the world, and to us they showed special interest on China. So we decided to teach them Chinese history and culture, which made interesting classes to them. Our topics ranged from the Great Wall, Terra Cotta Soldiers, to Confucius, Chinese medical treatment, Chinese characters, etc. While teaching them we also learnt the Nepalese cultures and traditions from them.
During breaks we talked with the principal, a nice and well-educated man. From him we learnt how hard it is to provide good education to kids in Nepal under the unstable political status and with disturbance from the government. It is good to see that there are some people making their hard effort in the hope of shaping the children a good future. In China there are also many poor kids who struggle for education, but at least the 9-year compulsory education policy generally makes an unchallengeable and nationally exercised guarantee for Chinese kids to receive basic education. It is only after our visit to Nepal had we realized how hard and crucial good education can be.
Time passed fast and we both felt not having stayed in Nepal enough at the end of our stay. It is a nice country with rich and mysterious religious culture and tradition, worth visiting for tour. But more importantly, it is a country that demands more international help. I'm looking forward to go there again for a hand.
Miss. HUANG SI NIE (Sinie Huang)
BSc 2009, School of Life Sciences, Peking University.

Friday, January 16, 2009

Perise's wonderful experience in Nepal!!!

Dear Matrika,

Namaste my dear friend!
Sanchaai chha??
Hope all's well with you, your beautiful wife and comedian of a son!  Haha!

I'm sorry I didn't write sooner, but it's taken me a full week to deal with the fact that I am no longer in Nepal... I miss your beautiful country sooooo much!!!  I cannot thank you enough for giving me the fabulous opportunity to work with VSSN!!!  From day one, I felt completely safe and well looked after by not only yourself.. but also Urmila, the lovely language instructor/tour guide, Raj and the boys at Millenium and Mr. Dev the trusty driver!!!  Not to mention the hilarious Badri, who I will always remember as the 'lady landmark' guy.  Haha.  

I am missing my gorgeous Newari family, the Maharjans, in Chapagaun so much!!!  I miss speaking Nepali with them.. and learning a bit of the Newari dialect too!!!  They treated me like a real family member and they certainly kept me well-fed everyday!!!  I have serious cravings for daal, bhaat and thakari!!!  Oh and roti too!  And veg momo!  Oh my gosh and the chiya!!!  I miss my cups of chiya daily... I couldn't have asked for a better family to stay with.. not only were they incredibly accommodating, but they were genuinely warm and interested in learning about my background and country, family etc.  As far as I'm concerned, they are now a part of my extended family.  They are my Nepali connection:)

As for the kids and teaching staff at Emerald English School.. I just don't know where to start.  'JB', the animated and wonderfully caring Principal at Emerald School is doing an amazing job with the school and I felt his passion for reaching out to the needy and teaching the young the necessary skills they'll need to survive in later life.  I thoroughly enjoyed teaching English Literature and Grammar to all ages and levels.... all of the classes were super-active and always participated in our lessons:)  They were so funny, charming and so engaging... that it's been hard coming back to my teaching job here in Japan, where some of the kids aren't half as active as the Nepali kids!!!  I tell you what, these Japanese kids could learn A LOT from the beautiful wee souls in Nepal!!!  The teachers were so friendly and extended a helping hand to me outside of school, which was greatly appreciated:)  I got to try on the traditional Newari dress and had meals at various teacher's homes.  They even bought me gifts, as I celebrated my birthday the day before I left Chapagaun.  Please give them all my love next time you visit Emerald School!  I will send them emails and photos asap too!!!

Getting to visit a local Orphanage was also a highlight of my time there.  The sweet little kids who are learning there, were so adorable and I loved playing with them!!!  Here's hoping they'll continue to do well with their studies there:)

All in all, my experiences as a Volunteer in Nepal were above and beyond anything I could've anticipated!!!  
My time in Chapagaun will forever remain in my heart as one of the most fulfilling and rewarding experiences ever!!!  The warmth, genuine loving nature and unrivalled hospitality of the Nepali people whereever I went will always be appreciated and never be forgotten:)  

DHANYABAAD a million times over to your superb professionalism Matrika, the fantastic team at VSSN, and related associations who contribute daily to improving the lives of the Nepali people!!!

NEPAL DHERAI MAN PARCHHA!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

I'll be back sooner than you think!!!  Haha!

Much love and hugs,

Perise, Email: (Join in facebook to see pictures)

Wednesday, December 26, 2007

Suggestions for volunteer teachers:

1) If you're volunteering during the winter months, bring appropriate clothing. Days may be warm and sunny, but the nights can be bitterly cold.

2) When purchasing goods and services, be sure to mention that you're a volunteer. Many vendors will offer you an additional discount when you're negotiating a price.

3) If you're teaching English, come prepared with many lesson plans and educational games (for various ages). The schools are often lacking in structure and may look to you to create the lessons. Use different kinds of learning materials to make the lessons fun - music, maps, markers, poster-boards, etc. - most of these items can be purchased in Kathmandu.

4) Don't load your suitcase or backpack down with books from home. Kathmandu has numerous bookshops with all of the most popular titles in several languages, available in both new and used copies. Often times, you can sell back your books back for 50% of the purchase price.

~ Shelby Scarpa from Florida, US

Saturday, September 1, 2007

Story /Advice from Aarthi Rao

To prospective volunteers,

I have spent the past two and a half months in Nepal and I’ve had a wonderful time. I have been volunteering with VSSN and have been based at of Chapagaun (about half hour south from Kathmandu). In the past few weeks I have got to know Chapagaun very well. I also assisted the health post with their yearly monitoring and evaluation survey and in this capacity came to interview almost 100 patients. There is no better way to know a place than to get to know its people. Although I was based in Chapagaun, I made for day visits to another health posts. I have been to Badharjhula in the southern Terai, Dhading and Ghale Gaun. Each of these trips has been unique and has helped me to meet a wide range of people. One of the advantages of volunteering is that you have the opportunity to visit isolated places (that are always interesting) that you would have never encountered as merely a t traveler. Also, I have been able to seamlessly incorporate my own travels into my trip. I have enjoyed the lake in Pokhara, ridden elephants in Sauraha, and rafted down the Trisoli river. I have had my share of obstacle and frustrations in Nepal but the longer I am here the easier it is to handle it all. Once I adjusted to the pace of life, I ran into very few problems.

All the good experiences I’ve had more than make up for anything negative. If you’re considering coming to Nepal at all I would strongly encourage it. In terms of advice most of my suggestions are closer to a packing list. As long as you are willing to keep all of your in country plans flexible you’ll have a good time. If you want more specific information feel free to contact me. I’d be happy to answer any questions that you might have.

My photo album: click here


Aarthi Rao, USA