From the first second I arrived in Nepal, I was amazed. The city of Kathmandu was vibrant, and alive in so many ways. The sights, the sounds, the smells were all foreign to me. It was an exciting, but simultaneously terrifying experience. I had of course some background knowledge of the country, and a handle on how I would be teaching based on skype meetings prior to leaving home, but it is impossible to know a culture until you are plunged right into the center of it.
Fortunately the staff of Trek to Teach was incredibly knowledgeable, and friendly. They made sure I was comfortable, and gave me tours of the city along with a crash course in Nepali culture, language, and history. The week before I actually started teaching was filled with knowledge. I left Kathmandu on a bus with Madan Prasain, one of the co-founders of Trek to Teach and a lovely person with a contagious laugh. Madan was my guide on our trek to the village of Tolka.
After I was oriented with Tolka, and the school I would be teaching at, Madan left to head back to the Trek to Teach offices in Kathmandu. We maintained communication over the spotty internet available in the village, but for the most part I was alone. The guest house I was staying in was very accommodating, and run by some of the most fun people I've ever met. I was welcomed at the school with open arms. All of my students were bright, and energetic.
The school was about a ten to fifteen minute walk from the guest house. Classes started at ten, and went into the late afternoon, with a break for tea and snacks about halfway through the day. The first day of teaching was the hardest, as I had only just received the curriculum, and was thrust into classes without a clear schedule. Over time, I formed a routine, and established a relationship with the students. I had to learn what it meant to be a teacher very fast.
I quickly fell into a teaching routine. Communication was a large issue in the beginning. The students had a very basic understanding of english, and I didn't know any Nepali besides basic greetings. Repetition and body language were key in explaining lessons. We would play games that would cover material in the curriculum, and I would occasionally incorporate arts and crafts when the materials allowed.
This program requires you to be independent. There is support available from Trek to Teach, and the school I worked with was filled with friendly teachers, but there are no real guides, or stringent rules. There were no other volunteers with me, or program guides that were there to tell me what to do. The teaching was self directed, and though the curriculum books provided a guidelines, I wrote most of the lesson plans. This sort of independence, and responsibility proved to be a boon. It pushed me out of my comfort zone and made me grow as a person. I will always remember my experiences with Trek to Teach fondly, and would definitely recommend it to anyone considering spending time abroad.