Wednesday, 21 January 2015

My typical day teaching in Pokhara

PROJECT: Education and Nursing
WRITTEN BY:  Julia Quine

This past week, the clouds have lifted and the fog has shifted, and we were finally greeted with uninterrupted views of the beautiful mountains that we are lucky enough to be surrounded by here in Pokhara. This made for perfect conditions to do the arduous walk (for me anyway, the others were powering up) to the World Peace Pagoda. The stupa itself was incredible, and when viewed with a backdrop of the mountains, it made for one of those moments where you all you can really think is '…wow'.

We got a true Nepalese experience this week… a surprise strike! We are still not entirely clear on the reasoning for it, but what it did mean was that we were left with two days of no taxis or buses, and very few shops open. This took away from us a day of work (and also our opportunity to paraglide :’(, but gave us an opportunity to do the rather long walk to Lakeside and enjoy a more leisurely day than we usually have on our work days. On that note…!

A Day In The Life (when there isn’t a strike)
This daily routine is specific to myself, but the food part is certainly one that many of the others probably experience too!

7am– Alarm goes off. We roll around groaning and muttering “but we’re so warm and toasty.”

7:10am– Think about the breakfast we are about to be given by our host family and get out of bed a little more willingly.

8am– Walk to our host family’s house (we are living in a separate room a few doors down) and find a jug of tea and cups waiting for us on the table, every single morning without fail. Breakfast is generally one of two things: porridge with apple/banana and buffalo milk, or an omelette and copious amounts of ‘pali’ – Tibetan flatbread that is served warm. Amazing.

8:45am- Hop on a bus to work. The buses are small, with a rundown exterior but quite an elaborate interior. Decorated roofs, loud Hindi music playing, and some sort of tasseled decorations hanging around the driver.

9am– Arrive at the nunnery, being greeted by 36 smiling girls waving and shouting “Good morning miss!’. Watch as the girls line up for assembly and start singing their morning prayers. It is quite hypnotising.

9:30am- Lessons begin! Each lesson is only 40 minutes, making planning for each day quite an easy process. I take every level (Kinder, 1, 2, 3, 4) throughout the day, each presenting their own challenges but all full of the loveliest young girls you can imagine (except for some of the tiny ones – there are definitely some cheeky little monkeys running around.) The level of English is impressively high among the majority of the girls, and they are all very attentive and eager to learn which makes my job much easier and more enjoyable.

11am-Tea break. Literally all that happens on this break is tea drinking. The girls all sit around and drink tea quietly.

12pm- Lunch time! This isn’t any old lunch break though – this is a 2 hour break where I am fed a huge meal and then can do anything from play badminton with some of the girls, sit on the roof and do henna, or even be forced to dance while all the girls sit around in a circle and laugh while the teachers and even a monk whip out their smart phones and start filming. I like to think they are laughing with me, but it’s definitely at me. Definitely.

3:10pm– School ends. We are served tea and biscuits, and are then on our merry way back home on a similarly funky bus, but this time it is significantly more crowded. People are hanging out the door and people are getting on the roof. You see pictures, but it is something else to see it in reality.

7pm– Dinner time. Dahl baht is the staple meal here it seems (lentil dahl and rice), but we have also been served ‘thukpa’ (a delicious traditional Tibetan soup that has yak cheese in it) and fried rice. Sit around for many hours some nights discussing various things, often laughing a lot. We absolutely love our family, and everyone else seems to be growing similarly close to their own families. How lucky we all are.

9:30pm– Pack our bags for the next day, face the freezing cold shower (and by shower I mean bucket shower. You truly haven’t lived until you’ve had to pour cold water over yourself from a bucket in freezing temperatures), and then hop in bed to get our beauty sleep ready for the next day.

The nurses wake up considerably earlier (we’re talking 5:45am some mornings!) and head to work about 6:30am on one of the aforementioned public buses. The days can vary from observing surgeries to working on the wards. No two consecutive days are the same. Some have witnessed babies being delivered and a caesarean, and some have witnessed practices that are no longer used in Australia, which has made for an interesting experience.

This week some of the nurses also had the opportunity to go to the Monastic school and teach the boys about good hygiene practices using posters, songs and presentations.

This weekend the group is heading to Chitwan National Park! Crossing our fingers and toes that we get to see a tiger. We’ve also been informed that there are more strikes happening next week. We are well and truly integrated into Nepalese life now…

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