Sunday, May 23, 2010

Nepal Log #3

March 20, 2010

Dear Friends and Family,

Wow. It is hard to believe that we are back in India. We are taking a much needed rest day before we head off for a 9 day exploration of the Rajasthan area, north west of Delhi. this should include a 2 + day trek in the desert on camels. Wheeeee.

We just endured a 17+ hour overnight Indian bus trip (24 hours of travel) from Bauniyan - our Nepali town- to Delhi. It was grueling and hopefully fills the "adventure before dementia" category for this week.

It is hard to reflect on our experience in Nepal. I think I need a little space, but I am almost brought to tears when I think of the many kindnesses shown to us by the people in the village. During our last week, I taught a class for about 20 teachers from the schools in the area. "5 No Cost Strategies for Increasing Student Engagement". It had to be no cost because they have nothing to teach with. I had brought some large chart paper and I had hoarded 5 pieces so that I could do the workshop. NO HANDOUTS. Several of the teachers taught English - and I was the first native speaker that they had ever met/heard.

The next afternoon< i bought some notebooks and taught several teachers - including our own - how to plan lessons for a week. Very simple format. It was a new concept.

The last afternoon, we had a "Committee" meeting with parents of the school. Many adults showed up. They were so gracious in offering their thanks and blessings. Many of the parents are VERY poor and uneducated but realize that the opportunity that their children have at our school is really special. They of course want to know when we are returning and they would b more than willing to host Americans. I told them that we would see what we could do - but did not make any promises.

On Saturday afternoon - which is sort of the holiday of the week (there is school and work on Sunday) I decided to take a walk through the market area all by myself. I wore my straw hat and my big "Paris Hilton" sun glasses _ which was nothing new. I wandered down one side of the barely paved main road and started up the next side - with many stares following me. This was nothing new. I encountered three cute 15 year old girls who spoke to me in English. I had visited every classroom in the public school a couple of weeks ago and they remembered me. We chatted a few minutes and then they invited me to sit down on a bench in front of one of their father's shop. They were shy = like all Nepali's -but managed to talk with me. I used a few of my Nepali phrases, which made them giggle. Much to my surprise we were soon surrounded - in our close personal space- by probably 30 adults of all ages staring at me. They were fascinated. I met some of the girl's relatives and friends. Then the girls asked me if I would like to visit their homes. I said "sure " and we paraded off through the back streets of the village - among the mud huts, thatched roofs, cows and dogs and goats. We gathered children like mad. Two little boys that were students at our school arrived and I took their hands and continued on with our adventure. The first courtyard was behind a shop belonged to one of the girls families. Her house, which the girls told me was "very nice" ,was probably 18-20 feet long and 15 feet wide with a well swept dirt floor. The mud cooking stove and water pump were under a thatched roof in the court yard not far from the family cow and goats. After peeking inside, our entourage - which was growing with children headed out across the rice paddies. Now that takes some balancing - especially because the two little boys did not want to let go of my hand. We moved on to a very rural compound of mud huts and the next girl's home. The family was all waiting to greet me. I stayed only a few minutes because at least 50 children had now accompanied me into the courtyard. No one but me seemed to mind. At this point it was beginning to get dark and the electricity was not working in the village, so I told the girls that I needed to get home. The whole group escorted me home, much to the amazement of Ujjwal, our host. Some of the boys even wanted to come in our house. I said no - to no avail. But luckily one of the neighbors rescued me and shooed off my remaining boy companions. It was quite a day.

Our last evening we rode on the back of motor cycles to the thatched and mud sided home of one of the teachers in our school. We were going to be guests at his mother's home ( a sort of compound) for dinner. They had killed the local chicken to feed us. The family is part of the lower caste and live a very simple existence on land that has been part of their family village for many generations. We sat on the mud floor and drank the local rice brew - which was surprisingly good. We had our chicken, a heap of family grown rice, dahl (like green pea soup) and some very spicy pickles. The family was so curious - but also gracious and generous. They were honored that we had come - but we were really the people that were honored.

There are many more stories of simple pleasures and delights to come. Thanks for your patience and prayers as we opened ourselves to a new and different life for the last 7 weeks. Take care and see you soon. Love and hugs, Barbara

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