Saturday, July 5, 2014

KOSELI - The most amazing experience of my life by Sejal

Hi! My name is Sejal and I am 22 years old and am a future dentist. It had always been a dream of mine to volunteer abroad in Nepal. I had a good six weeks to spend volunteering, but I wanted to make sure I was going through a trust worthy organization. After days of research, I realized I could not come to trust any NGO as they all seemed like money- making operations. This was when I happened to stumble upon the Koseli website. Finally something looked promising! The best part was that they didn’t want any money from their volunteers, but provided the option for volunteers if they wanted to give their own donation in the form of school supplies, clothes, or money.
After contacting Koseli and getting in touch with Neelam, I was convinced that I wanted my volunteering experience to be at Koseli. Before my volunteering began, I felt a mix of emotions; I was excited, energized, and optimistic, but at the same time I was scared and nervous. Would the students like me? Will the teachers accept me? Would I really be able to contribute to the betterment of these children’s lives? But it only took spending one day with the Koseli family to know I had made the right choice.
On the first day, I met Shambhavi who was nice and helpful and made me feel welcome. She introduced me to the other teachers who were also very kind, but slightly shy. The students were a whole different story! They were so excited to meet someone new and were extremely friendly and sweet. The children had just started their new term and were settling back into the school routine. So the first day I just spent time with the children by doing origami, charades, and playing football. The children were all excited to show off their talents to me as well as praise the talents of their fellow classmates.
After a couple days, a schedule was set in place. The children would arrive in the morning and begin their routine of showering, brushing, and dressing at school. They would then have their Nepali and Social Studies lesson and would then begin homework time. After homework time was lunch, which I was happily invited to join, and then English, Math, and Science. After Science would be about 15 minutes of meditation and then free time for the children before they went home at 5pm.
As exciting and gratifying teaching is, it is also a challenge. It was tough for me to teach initially as there was a language barrier. The kids spoke Nepali and little English, but I realized soon after that they were much better at understanding English rather than speaking it. However, I made sure to implement as much speaking practice as possible. I taught English, Math, and Science and discovered that the students learn better and gain teamwork skills by playing educational games. So while Science would be mostly lecture based, I would incorporate games into Math and English which kept the students engaged and eager to learn.
It was a pleasant surprise for me to see how intelligent the students are, despite the backgrounds they come from. I did not know what to expect when I started teaching and though I taught class four, I thought I might still have to start from scratch. However, I was shocked when they told me they knew addition, subtraction, long multiplication, and division. They knew what photosynthesis was and some students were even sincere in practicing their English. The best part about teaching was when I would accidently make a mistake on the board and the students would shout, “Maam, that’s wrong!” By the end of class time, if the students were on their best behavior, I would end class ten minutes early and play Bollywood music for them. The joy on their faces was priceless as they would all dance and fool around, and would even include me in their dancing.
What Koseli is doing for these children is beyond what words can describe. This school is giving students a chance to build a new life through care and education. The teachers all take their jobs seriously and want to see their students succeed in life. Exceptional students are even given the chance to be sponsored and attend a private school. Both Neelam and Shambhavi would ask my opinion on how to improve the curriculum and were proactive in implementing changes. This made me feel appreciated and like a part of the family.
As the days went by, I began to think of my class as “my kids,” and looked forward to seeing their smiling faces every day. As mischievous as they could be, they were also dedicated and respectful to their elders. On my last day, they all made me farewell cards. It was a small gesture which touched my heart and made me feel even sadder to be leaving. I am glad I went out of my comfort zone and explored a new part of the world and a new way of life. I met some amazing people at Koseli who are doing wonderful things to positively impact their community and I will be sure to return. This is an experience I will cherish for the rest of my life and will be sharing with my family and friends for a long time to come.