Well, after years of being away from home and traveling all over the world, I've finally decided to take the step into the world of blogging. As most of you know, I will be spending the next four and a half months teaching English in Nepal. And, as I remain a bit unsure about the communication outlets I will have at my disposal, or frequency at which I will be able to access them, I figured this was the quickest and easiest way to get in touch with those who wish to follow my time there. So here you go. As I said, I really don't know how frequently or thoroughly I will be able to update this but hopefully I can provide at least some small anecdotes regularly enough to provide you all will some sort of insight to my time in Nepal. Enjoy :)
Friday, February 18, 2011
Megan Live in Nepal
Namaste from Kathmandu...I am back for a quick visit to this wonderful city that, I have recently realized, I really love. The three other volunteers in the village and myself took the long and bumpy bus ride up for a weekend in the city for a few reasons. Firstly, most of us need to visit the immigration office (of which there isn't one in the lower half of the country) in order to extend our visas. Mine expires next week (I still can't believe I've been here nearly three months!) Secondly, and frankly the more important reason for our visit, haha, is to see Bryan Adams Live in Nepal! Yes, Bryan Adams (of "Summer of '69" fame) is playing one concert in Nepal before he heads back to the States and, through our Nepali contacts, we were able to get tickets. I probably wouldn't even go if it was back home, but to see an act like that, in the middle of a country like this, and for that price (i.e. CHEAP!), how could you pass it up? And thirdly, I think we all just needed a good break. I know that just after this past week, I definitely needed to get away for a bit. It began with Valentine's Day, and while the holiday is not really celebrated here, most kids were well aware of the western tradition and there just seemed to be something in the air that day that just had everyone at the school running amuck. To add to this, multiple events this week added to my frustration and, to be honest, growing disgust, with the Nepali education system. Corporal Punishment is still alive and rampant, with teachers (and even some students) now encouraging us to "beat" students that misbehave. And, as many times as I've seen a child hit with a stick or slapped across the face, I still cringe every time. Then, on Wednesday, the school principal was in our year 8 class to explain their upcoming exam to the students (what sections will cover what topics [grammar, spelling, etc.] and how many points each portion will be worth). The written English exam is worth 70 points and the Listening and Speaking portion is worth 30 points...although, it doesn't matter how they do on this second portion as it doesn't count into whether they pass or not (excuse me!?! It doesn't matter if a student can actually understand and speak English in an English exam?!?) No, all that matters is the written portion, worth 70 points. They need 22 points to pass. 22! Out of 70! For those of you playing at home, that's about 31% Are you freaking kidding me??? No wonder you have kids in year 8 and 9 that don't understand the language. And the principal told us that 75% of the students will NOT pass. (Now what does this tell you about your teaching, sir?) Then, after he had written all the exam sections on the board and how many points they were each worth, he asked the students how many points they felt they could get on each portion. Huh? The first part they guessed maybe half (4/8). On the second section, he didn't even wait for their answer. He wrote a big fat zero next to it and said aloud "they will not get any on this section" (What?!? Nice positive encouragement for your students there, sir!) By this point I was fuming and I'm sure it showed on my face. He turned and asked me what I thought. I said flat out "No! No 4, no 0. They should be trying for..." at which point I went down the list stating the highest possible points for each section. How do you encourage your pupils to try for only 50%, or, worse, 0%! On top of it all, we've spent the week taking other teachers' classes because they find it more important to sit outside in the schoolyard, reading the newspaper or talking with other teachers. I guess, on the plus side, we know that when we're in a class rather than their actual teacher, at least those students won't be getting a beating. But yes, it was a long, emotionally and mentally exhausting week. A break was definitely needed. Oh! And I didn't even mention the extremely drunk old man who stumbled into our year 5 class and started passing out candy to the kids! Well, that is a story for another time. Right now, I'm off to Bryan Adams..."Got my first real six string, bought it at the five and dime..."