First meeting with the Director, Principal And Vice Principal to introduce ourselves and start planning the week ahead- we were well equipped with all your work from geography club, Reflections, music and media- well done you lot you really did show how you shine brightly!
Assembly is outside with exercises, drums, prayers, national anthem and the Himalayas in the background- we weren’t sure which was most distracting! We had a traditional welcome and both Mrs Collins and I made speeches about our school and partnership and gave presents including a Tobin hood hat- much to their delight.
Over the next few days we saw every class from age 3-15- 1 per year group. They stay in their same classroom all day and the teachers move! The rooms were pretty basic with concrete walls, corrugated iron roof, a fan and a blackboard ( occasionally white!) NO projectors-so lots of book work- they have to learn EVERYTHING from the books, which they buy themselves and carry to school each day.
The students were really excited to hear about our school, town, country and sport- they love football but neither Forest nor County play a role as they have posters of Messi and Ronaldo on the walls!
They were also fascinated by the map and film you made as well as really thinking about how to answer the questionnaire – 1 student wrote how their best present was in fact ‘knowledge’. This really reflects in general the character of the students, staff and people of Nepal. When you see the film they made for us you’ll recognise this too. Don’t worry their English is amazing as they have all their lessons- apart from Nepali- from the age of 3! A festival day this week so our new colleagues are taking us to see more of beautiful Pokhara …
Mrs Collins and I jumped into our Yeti Airlines propeller plane from gate 2 ( there are only 2!) domestic departures. Just 30 minutes later we were here and as our baggage got passed through a window labelled ‘baggage reclaim’ we noticed how much more open and fresher Pokhara was. It is actually a massive city as used by trekkers2nd Kat heading for the Annapurna Range of the Himalayas as world as many people who have moved from the rural areas of Nepal looking for work as so much of country is desperately poor.
Our hotel is next to Lake Fewa the 2nd largest lake in Nepal and it is incredibly tranquil with tiny coloured paddle boats for rent and the mountains behind. We met with our new colleagues Prakash and Nirmal who told us the plan for the next day and we could hardly sleep as so excited about the real reason for visit – our partner Himanchal Boarding school . It isn’t actually a boarding school but this means private- most schools are in Nepal and parents have to save very hard for this). They also have to pay for all books and equipment – so they never lose their pens!
We stayed for the first 2 days in Kathmandu the capital of Nepal- a crazy bustling city with the most traffic I have ever seen on roads that are never quite complete! Lots of people wear masks but not because of the pollution but the dust. Much reconstruction has had to be done since a massive earthquake in 2015 and they are also trying to improve the water supplies as underground pipes damaged too. It’s actually much easier to get around on a bike so that’s what we did but not cycling ourself through the winding back streets but with our hilarious rickshaw guide Gopal whose favourite phrase was ‘ooh la la’! He took us to see some amazing temples and traditional Nepalese homes- we’ve managed to buy some artefacts for RE and taken lots of snaps for Geography too.
As our teaching conference was cancelled the next day we took a 4 hour round trip to nargokot a village in the hills to climb a VERY wobbly scaffolded construction to catch a glimpse of Everest which is much further West in Nepal. It was beautiful and interesting to see the strength of the women carrying huge baskets of food, reeds and sometimes even bricks, as we climbed the mountain roads in a minibus.
The morning before we caught our next flight to Pokhara we visited the Buddhist ‘monkey temple’ Swayambhunath- there’s a good reason it has the name as it is swarmed by monkeys. It is stunning and a world heritage site. We saw not only tourists (and teachers!) but Buddhists from around the world who cane to touch its sacred prayer wheels and follow their mantras. We have learnt a lot.
Unfortunately this is a late blog as we have had real issues with updates and especially pictures so am going to stick with words and add some later. There will be a display in School and I have managed to send some to Mrs Moran so ask her!!!
Here we are looking over Kathmandu- but it was quite a journey. 3 hour Delays in Birmingham meant a free lunch voucher but also a mad rush through to Doha airport in Qatar to catch our connecting flight. Mrs Collins and I were quite a spectacle as we ran through the airport and only just managed to be the final boarders before they closed the doors! Another 4 hours of flying and we got to Kathmandu , unfortunately our luggage was not as speedy as us and hasn’t made it yet😬 we have been promised it by the end of the day ( we are 6 hours ahead)- I hope for everyone’s sake sitting next to us at dinner this is the case! The traffic in Kathmandu is crazy and lots of people are wearing masks because of the pollution, but we have already driven past some amazing sites and hope to explore more later/tomorrow. The photo is the view from our hotel to give you a flavour. We’re going to try and get some rest now as have been on the go for over 27 hours with no sleep so don’t want to miss anything later or write too much nonsense!. Lots of photos to come…,
On Thursday Mrs Collins and I are very excited about making our way to Nepal! We will be sharing some of your work and ideas with our new partner school Himanchal Boarding School in Pokhara (try and find us on a map). This is going to be our first time in Nepal and our first meeting with the staff and students, but we hope this is one we can build on and include you in more over time. Why don’t you join us in this great adventure by keeping up by following this blog. Every time I get some wifi I’ll pop an update and some photos on so you can follow us as we hit the Himalayas- hopefully not literally!!
The Nepalese people really value their education and this is why we believe this partnership can have a great impact- Here’s a picture I found of trainee monks in Kathmandu (the capital of Nepal) writing prayers to the goddess of education to prove it!