We Are Now Finishing Up Our Half-way Point and Time Is Flying By!

Each morning, I (Taylor) volunteer as an English teacher at the Vibhuti Secondary School, which is down the street from the Contact Center. Volunteering at the school is affording me a firsthand look at the education system in Nepal. Most importantly, the experience is helping me better understand how we can customize the Contact Center’s student evaluation system to appropriately fit into the Nepali education system. Creating the elaborate spreadsheet required for this student evaluation system is how I spend my afternoons once I finish teaching. Lauren, in contrast, is spending her entire day combing through textbooks and creating dozens of exams for the system. Her attitude and work ethic never cease to amaze me. Because of this, day by day we are making significant progress on the ambitious project for the Contact Center.

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Fortunately, we have also been able to truly get to know the children coming to the Contact Center. The most exciting day for us was certainly our recent Contact Center picnic at the Kathmandu Zoo. On May 7th, we packed up boxes of food and water and boarded a van to travel across town. The first challenge was, of course, controlling the kids’ excitement in the overcrowded van. Eventually, we arrived in front of the Kathmandu Zoo and filed the children inside one by one.

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After feeding the children their breakfast (and fighting off the crows trying to steal the food), the real excitement began. In two groups of about a dozen children we explored the wonders of Nepali wildlife. Tigers, rhinos, hippos, jackals, bears, and birds welcomed the ecstatic kiddos around every turn! Although we insisted that every child holds hands with their classmates to keep the group together, it seemed that our hands were in the highest demand. By the end of the tour, Lauren and I had at least five children holding our hands (or rather individual fingers).

Personally, I am not sure where children’s fascination with me comes from. While I would like to think that it is my charming demeanor and handsome looks, it is probably closer aligned with my height, size, and my natural aptitude to be climbed. Needless to say, the children at the Contact Center think that I am a jungle gym! After serving lunch, we spent the next hour playing with the kids, which meant that I was half buried in climbing children. Luckily, I am not the least bit claustrophobic. Lauren, on the other hand, spent the afternoon teaching new words and making funny faces with the students sitting on her lap, and she has the cutest selfies to prove it.

Overall, our trip the zoo was a huge success. The kids received a much-deserved day out of the classroom, but continued learning, nonetheless. We also received an education about the incredible animal and bird life that lives in this amazing country. Our excitement to see tigers and rhinos was likely even more than that of the children’s. Ending the day with an hour of playing and dancing warmed our hearts even more. While we are obviously very excited about the work we are doing to create a student evaluation system for the Contact Center, this brief moment of relief and fun at the zoo will certainly be a day we fondly remember forever.

-Taylor Massey

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