Alumni Spotlight: Cheryl Amos

In 2001-2002, Cheryl had a sabbatical year from work, which she and her husband used to travel extensively, mostly in Asia. A couple from Toronto, Canada, in their early 50’s at the time, decided that as part of this year, they wanted to do a period of volunteering in Nepal.

nepal volunteers

Highlights: Our host families were both very welcoming. We became part of the family, experiencing the Nepali way of life, such as eating with our hands, that we would never have experience as tourists (tourists are always provided with cutlery). When a cousin of our host family was married, we were invited to the wedding.

The Insight Nepal program included a week of Nepali lessons and orientation, a week of trekking in the Annapurna mountains near Pokhara, a visit to Chitwan National Park, and eight weeks placement at a school in Pokhara. For our week of orientation, we stayed with a local family, and then moved to the home of one of the teachers at our school, for the placement period.

Although the program provided us with room and board for the entire period of our placement, we chose to spend a day or so each weekend in the tourist part of Pokhara (Lakeside), which gave us both a “tourist” experience as well as the volunteer experience.

school children nepal

Morning: We ate breakfast and dinner with our host family; lunch was provided at school. We walked to and from school with the daughter of the family, who was a teacher at the school.

Afternoon: We had no prior experience as teachers. The major contribution we made was to expose the students to native speakers of English. Using story books, we had the children read out loud, practicing English pronunciation, and we also played games designed to increase their vocabulary.

Grades 3 and 4 were easiest, as the students had enough English to understand us, but we also spent a couple of weeks filling in for the teacher of the very youngest group, who was away on her honeymoon. We used a book originally developed for members of the Peace Corps, to study and improve our Nepali. We found the language fairly easy to learn, and enjoyed being able to converse in Nepali both with members of our host family and other people that we met.