The Oda Project

Essential healthcare and education - giving Nepali communities in extreme poverty a fighting chance

First Day of School (For me)!

Today was a very exciting day for me, as school finally got underway.  I’d heard a lot about school days from the other fellows, and the unanimous feeling was that they are far more enjoyable than off days.  Since I arrived on Wednesday we’ve been off on Holiday, and unfortunately school on Friday was cancelled as a result of a teachers strike.  These strikes happen regularly in Nepal, and workers who actually do report to work during strike will be physically threatened (which means when there is a strike, there is definitely no school).  That being said, things got back to normal today with the first day of classes.  I’d heard how great the kids look in the morning going to class, but not until I saw some of the younger ones putting on their ties did I realize how true that is.  After watching them head off to class, I ate a quick breakfast and headed to school myself. 
Back to Class
Upon arriving at school the first thing I did was have a meeting with the principal.  He is a very good and well-traveled man who speaks English very well, and used to be a General in the Nepali Army.  After some initial small talk, we did some brainstorming with respects to the Extra-Curricular fellowship and my involvement with the school.  The first plan of action was to put together an inter-house championship, which will feature competitions between Kopila’s four houses (Moon, Sky, Star, and Sun).  There will be two divisions for the boys (grades 2-5 and 6-8) and one division for the girls.  The final verdict was to feature contests in Soccer, Basketball, Volleyball, Badminton, and Track.  Fortunately, Matt is quite the soccer player so he can head that effort while I spend time working with the other sports.  While I’m very excited for the tournament, the decision was made that it will culminate on annual day which just so happens to be December 25th (Christmas Day).  Originally I had intended to meet up with my family for the holidays, however, as the leader of the games sadly that will no longer be the case. 
Following this meeting I went around to each classroom and introduced myself to the class and the teachers.  It was pretty disheartening when I went from feeling like I knew everyone’s name in the house, to being completely overwhelmed once again.  It took me 5 days for forty, so I’m hoping a couple a months and I’ll have most of the students down?  We will see on that one.   Following these introductions, I went back to the principal’s office to work on some planning documents in order to organize the championship.  The difficulty right now is the boys tend to dominate the girls with respects to field use, and there is a worry that the boys will exclude the girls.  After talking to some of the other fellows, we decided that we will alternate use of the big field between girls and boys, and on days when the other sex is using the field they will focus on the other sports.  This will probably not go over too well with many of our extremely enthusiastic boy’s soccer players, however, I’ve already volunteered to bite the bullet and play the part of bad cop.  Beyond this productive planning session, I took the entirety of both lunch periods to meet as many children as possible.  I essentially walked around the field and cafeteria for two hours talking to people, and getting to know the school children.  Maggie has a policy that when we are at school we should focus on the regular school children, rather than the kids we live with.  I did my very best to abide by this policy, but it can be a challenge when some of the faces I’ve already grown close with run up for a hug.  At the end of the school day we went around from class to class, and announced that we will have sign ups on Monday for the games and laid out some of the rules for the championship.  More to come on the competitions soon.
Relay Race
After school, Safira and I went out on a trip into town to pick up supplies for a Birthday party we will be celebrating tomorrow.  I had mentioned a desire to start taking a couple kids into town every few days to get an opportunity to get to know them outside of the house.  Today, the lucky three were Sagar, Krishna, and Dipak.  We went all around town in search for a cake and a remote control car.  Unfortunately, we came back with one of two items.  We were actually very close to buying a car, but upon further review we learned it was broken.  Evidently there is another store which sells cars which we are going to check out tomorrow, and if we can’t find the car soccer cleats it is!  Towards the end of the walk, I treated the whole crew for some chaat on the street.  This was my first meal outside of the home/school and it was a real treat.  I was warned not to eat street food in order to keep myself from getting sick, but the kids rave about chaat, and my “when in Rome” attitude prevailed.  For those of you who don’t know (which I’m guessing is all of you), chaat is essentially really spicy mashed potatoes with some tomatoes, chili sauce, and other seasoning, and is served with a crispy wafer.  So far so good on the sickness front, and given the fact that dinner at the house tonight was very underwhelming, I’m pretty glad I managed to snag some chaat.  Additionally, at the end of the walk Sagar started teaching me Nepali.  Surprisingly, I really haven’t needed to use the language since the kids in the house are wonderful in English.  But in the same “when in Rome” vein, I figure it would be shame to leave in Nepal and not learn the language.  Sagar agreed to quiz me during the day on my Nepali knowledge, and if I answer correctly teach me something new.  There is something quite humbling about having a ten year old teach you how to speak, but he is a great kid and I’m always excited to learn more
Also, for those of you wondering I am finally feeling much better since my last update.  The cough medicine from town seems to have worked wonders, and my mosquito bites are slowly fading which is a very welcome relief.  After eating my first street food I hope you’ll all keep your fingers crossed for me though!  Things continue to go well, and I am really enjoying my time here.  Not only have I been getting increasingly close with the Kids, but my relationship also continues to grow with the other fellows.  I think we’re all in agreement, that sometimes things can be pretty rough in the third world, so while we’re here we should try to have as much fun as we can…a mindset which has led to some pretty hilarious comments and stories.
Hope all is well at home!