Before leaving for a long journey…

Before leaving for this long journey I set myself a great personal goal: I wanted to leave without any expectation, free, bringing with me the desire to adapt to this new context. This means for me to face all the diversity that surrounds me with different eyes from those customary, an open heart to welcome what people and the place want to give me.

Everything here is so far from my everyday life that, a little more than two weeks after my arrival in Nepal, I still struggle a little to get used to its rhythms so different from mine, but that’s why every day I wake up in this place so far from home I feel lucky to have the opportunity to live this experience.

The first days of my job shadowing are spent in the capital, Kathmandu, a colorful and chaotic city, immersed in the scent of incense and scooters whizzing from every alley. The weekly calendar of mine and the other Spanish Youth worker Clara is full of activities and visits to schools, most of them private because, as the local coordinator of the project explained to us, they are of particular importance in Nepal’s education system: families that can afford their costs, no doubt choose private schools.

Having had the good fortune to visit them both, some differences immediately came to our attention: the number of students in the classroom for example (in the private school there are about 25-30 students while in the public one they even reach 80); the different structures of these schools and early school leaving rate that is much higher in the public sector, as some principals told us.

Our work within these schools was a first part of observation, during which we were able to witness the work of the teachers directly from school benches next to the students, while the second part was dedicated to some non-formal activities conducted by Clara and myself. What we proposed to children and teachers was a direct and open exchange not only on our cultural peculiarities and the differences between our educational systems, but also to make them understand what it is and why non-formal education is as effective as formal education. All crowned by a warm welcome and huge smiles. Through interactive quizzes, collages with specific topics and theatrical improvisations we were able to enter into intimacy with the youngsters, discovering what their future goals are, what they think about the school, because it is important for them to study and what are in their opinion the reasons why many children drop out of school.

The days flow here in Nepal, between activities, schools, work but also family dinners, affection and respect. It is true that there are many things that I will probably never fully understand about this fascinating culture, but with curiosity and heart tuned to the same level I’ll try to comply with the rule “the essential thing is invisible to the eyes”.

Aurora

Job shadowing in Nepal