The Oda Foundation

EMPOWERING COMMUNITIES IN NEPAL'S REMOTE REGIONS THROUGH HEALTH AND EDUCATION INITIATIVES

Catching back up!

Hi Again!
Wow, its been a crazy few weeks here and I apologize for the delay between now and Thanksgiving. The past two weeks have been tiring, but a lot of fun. We had a volunteer here from the UK teaching the girls dance which was an absolute blast...While my dance did not improve too much, the kids did a wonderful job learning new routines in preparation for annual day. I'm cease to be amazed by these kids ability to learn and catch on. In just a couple short days, the kids were able to do several new routines which really blew me away. While Sirjana has left us for the UK once again, the children continue to practice to perfection, and I'm really looking forward to their routines on Christmas Day!
In addition to the dancing the extra-curricular championships started Sunday and are in full swing...This is largely the reason for the delay between posts. I've been waking up at 6 to get ready for the day, and heading over to school at 630. As a result of the courts being so heavily used at the moment, there is barely enough time in the day to squeeze everything in. The first kids on the court each day have been Abishek and Ubraj, who are both training for the Nepal National tournament (alongside Goma and Socializa). We've been practicing for about an hour each morning, and the boys are really starting to kill me! I actually got massacred by Ubraj this morning, and I'm delighted to see how far he has come. In just a couple short months, he's really progressed, and I look forward to seeing his performance in a couple of weeks. After practice, we've been having the younger division of the championship compete from 730am-9am. Thankfully, Abishek and Ubraj have been sticking around and helping me coach the younger kids, who haven't had the same amount of training. The first few days were a bit painful, as some of the youngest kids were still having difficulty figuring everything out, however, at the moment, we're halfway through day 4 of the tournament and the play have been absolutely outstanding. To make things more legitimate, we recently purchased new posts, a net, and chalk to ensure the court is regulation size. Thank you to all of those who donated, as it has been a fantastic upgrade to our previous playing surface. After the girls conclude their morning portion at 9am, I've been running home for a quick breakfast and then getting back to school by 930, which is the beginning of first period to teach computer. Beyond computer, I've actually been teaching second grade quite a bit lately because their teacher has been absent. One of my very best friends at home is a teacher, and until this experience I don't think I fully understood the challenges of teaching. Being prepared and energetic for 7 hours a day is BRUTAL, and I know I'm being cliched but our teachers (especially the good ones) deserve a great deal of credit and respect for all of the hard work it takes to run a effective classroom. As for my teaching experience, for the most part the kids are fantastic...there are a couple of the girls that can be pretty sassy, but those tend to be the girls that I live with so they just feel more comfortable around me and are more inclined to talk back. Beyond that, I've really enjoyed teaching and the opportunity it's given me to get to know more of the school children. After school I've been jumping right back into the tournament, for the older divisions...This portion runs from 330-545, and can be a headache and a half. In addition to coordinating the Badminton tournament, and working with Matt to make sure the Jr. Boys soccer games are running correctly, I'm also having to fend of 50 little kids who want nothing else but a racquet and shuttle cock. By the time afternoon sports ends I've been pretty tuckered, out but fulfilled. Its always fun to come back to the house and commiserate with the other fellows and swap stories from our days. This month has been crazy, and you can see the bags under everyone’s eyes come dinner time. Following dinner we've been doing our satsung, and then I've been tutoring the boys in math afterward from roughly 8-9 or 930. Two days ago, I was forced to dig into Geometry proofs for the first time in 11 years.... I feel like I've been rehashing the day to day a lot, in recent posts, and I think its largely my excuse for not updating the blog as much as I should!
Getting Serious
Reffing some Badminton!
Jr. Boys Football!
With regards to my well being, I actually had to deal with one of my more challenging experiences as a mentor and coach on Day 1 of the tournament. Two of my absolute favorite girls, Goma and Socializa (who coincidentally are the two training for nationals) matched up in the first game of the first day. Since none of you know either of these girls, I can tell you that they are incredible at everything they put their hands on. Goma lives in the house, and on top of being one of the best badminton players, she is a dynamite dancer, and without fail my first selection when we play frisbee for family game. Well, during day one, she had her first taste of defeat after a really hard fought match which was a very bitter pill to swallow. As a coach to both of these girls, it was brutal to see the disappointment in one one of their eyes, and I couldn't help but feel personally accountable. Of course one of the girls had to lose, but the reaction was difficult to stomach, and it took a few days for my all star Goma to fully get over her loss. When talking to her about what happened, I called upon one of my favorite references from Batman Begins...and I think she learned that sometimes we fall down, but the reason that we fall down is so that we can learn to pick ourselves back up! Thankfully, she's picked herself back up and had a dominating performance on the court yesterday.
Goma Back in Action!
In addition to sports, time just continues to fly over here. I can't believe that I've been here for nearly 3 months, and only have about 3 months left at Kopila Valley. I continue to grow and learn each and every time I interact with others, or step foot out of my room. Whether its engaging in spirited debates with the other fellows, or hearing more about the children's stories, I can't help but feel that I'm becoming a fuller person as a result of this experience. Just the other day, Maggie was telling me about the Prime Minsters daughter, and her thoughts on Kopila Valley. The daughter is a huge advocate of everything happening here, and believes strongly that the actions of one individual, can positively impact the entire country. There are over 350 people impacted directly by Maggie, and countless others who see indirect benefits from Maggie's involvement in the country. As my time here continues, I can't help but think how much of a difference “another Maggie” would make in the lives of 350 other individuals!
One one final note...we're happy to welcome Sarah Kay to Kopila Valley. She is an American poet. Known for her spoken word poetry, Sarah is the founder and co-director of Project V.O.I.C.E., a group dedicated to using spoken word as an inspirational tool. Over the next few days, she'll be working with our students, and fortunatley it sounds like I'll be able to sit in on a class too! See the attached link to hear Sarah's Ted talk: http://www.ted.com/talks/sarah_kay_if_i_should_have_a_daughter.html!
Happy Holidays to everyone at home...and to my friends in DC happy Santa Stumble weekend!
John