Sunday, December 9, 2012

Our stay at Koseli School (by volunteers Erwin and Katrin Koch from Switzerland)

A gift
“Koseli“ means “a gift“ in Nepali. We came to Kathmandu in order to offer the gift of our knowledge as teachers to the children of the Koseli School. Now, ten weeks later, on the eve of our departure, we feel that we are the ones who have received a gift from the children of Koseli. They offered us their open hearts, their smiling faces and their eagerness to learn, and turned out to be our teachers, teaching us some of the essentials of life. Right from the beginning we could feel the caring spirit within Koseli. Whatever decision was made, it was always in favour of the children. It was obvious that their wellbeing was at the centre of the school’s policy. So, for instance, Renu Bagaria, the chairwoman of Koseli School, decided to leave the school open during the Dashain festival. Many of the children could not go home to their native villages during Dashain and would have suffered, having a hard time to find food and shelter during the festival, so some of the teachers stayed and organised a special programme for the children. 
Besides the normal curriculum, the school offers its students various extra curricular activities. We had the pleasure of sharing some of these activities with the teachers and students at Koseli. One day, the entire school visited the zoo in Patan; it was a grand day out for everybody, with a lot of laughing and shining faces. Towards the end of term, after the exam week, which was quite exhausting for both students and teachers, the school organised a Carnival day with a lot of different activities and games. Again, the atmosphere was excellent and everybody had a whale of time. 

A day at Koseli School
School life at Koseli School is very different from our routine back in Switzerland. When the students arrive at 8 o’clock they wash, before putting on their Koseli school uniform. Then, after playing in the schoolyard, they start doing homework in their classrooms. It’s great to see how engaged they are. From some of the classrooms you can hear the students reciting texts and repeating information they are learning by heart, while others are writing exercises in both the Nepalese and English languages. At around 10.30 all the students gather in the schoolyard for the morning ritual, during which they pray to Saraswati, the Goddess of learning. Between 11 and 12 o’clock the students eat their lunch (Dahl Bat and vegetables), which is prepared in the school kitchen. We sometimes shared this cheerful moment with the students and teachers in the “dining hall” of the school.

Our teaching experienceTeaching these children was very rewarding and a lot of fun too. Erwin taught science in grades 4, 5 and 7, whereas I taught English in grades 1, 2 and 3. When we entered the classroom, we were greeted by a warm “good morning Madam/Sir, you are welcome to class”. We will always keep this wonderful welcome in our hearts, together with the shining and laughing eyes of our Nepalese students. Besides their eagerness to learn and their lively interest in the subjects, there was a lot of laughter and the teaching atmosphere was excellent. We tried to contribute our knowledge to the lessons by introducing and integrating some of our western methods and exercises. In my English class I focused on the oral expression of the students and was astonished at how good their English already was. These lessons were always quite animated because of the students’ lively participation. 
Teaching science was quite a challenge for Erwin, due to the very specific scientific expressions in English and because there was no material available at school to carry out scientific experiments. 
He therefore put together a small collection of the most important science equipment. When he conducted the first experiments in the schoolyard, students from other classes left their classrooms because they wanted to share the magic of the moment. This situation and many others will be part of the memories that we will cherish in our hearts back home in Switzerland. 

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