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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Our Goal: Create a Formal Early Childhood Education Evaluation & Tracking System

In 2016, my boyfriend, Taylor, got to know Ambrose, Leena, Yogesh, and Christine through the Climb for Himalaya Children at Mt. Rainier just outside of Seattle, WA. In the spring of 2017, Taylor visited Nepal and was able to spend a day at BSF’s Contact Center. There, he got a taste of what Mitrata and BSF did for local children in need of education in Nepal. He sent me a few photos of the kids and, of course, I replied, “So cute!” Little did I realize that I’d soon be sitting on the same floor sipping tea while watching little kids perform dances and shout out, “Hello sir! Hello ma’am!”

Long story short: Taylor and I quit our jobs in Seattle in early 2018 to move to Thailand to teach English, travel, and learn about a different part of the world. In the back–very back–of our minds we knew that Nepal was a quick flight away, but we didn’t really have any grand plan to visit immediately. After a year in Thailand, we both began teaching online remotely. This provided an opportune time to head to Nepal, trek in the mountains, and see if we could make use of our time volunteering at BSF’s Contact Center.

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Farewell Nepal, For Now

Namaste!  As we head home from Kathmandu after two very full weeks, we are filled with an abundance of lasting memories, heart-warming stories, and beautiful pictures.  We met with almost all of our Mitrata-sponsored students and received updates on their health, family situations, educational progress, and for our older students, employment plans after completion of their studies. 

At the Contact Center, Rachana (Program Coordinator) and staff welcomed 15 new children into the youngest class for the new school year, and two or three additional children may be added in the next few weeks.  Children from all of the classes performed traditional Nepali songs and dances for us, and per their custom, invited us to join them.  The children are now getting protein-rich breakfast and lunch every day, something sorely lacking thus far in their young lives.  We met Lauren Kubik and Taylor Massey who are volunteering their time to establish educational performance metrics which will satisfy Social Welfare Council (SWC) criteria, and standards for future expansion.

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Mutual Understanding of Each Other & the World

A relaxed day taking in the city of Bhaktapur. Aleesh Baniya, a six-year staff member for BSF, takes me out on his scootie for an admirable exploration inside the eldest city of Kathmandu. We take an extra few minutes to jut around Bhaktapur’s made up borders, taking streets even taxis can’t fit through, to end up in the in the city, without having to pay the 1500 rupees it costs an outsider to get it, a perk of experiencing the city with locals. Not to worry, I quickly pay my dues and give back to the Nepali economy as I stop in many local shops and buy a few things. We leisurely stroll around the ancient city walls made from clay, keeping us cool from what should be a hot day. After a while we start to run low on energy and make our way to Aleesh’s brother’s restaurant, a gorgeous five story building in the center of the city. We sit and take in the view, talking about American culture and the vast differences in our lives, and the uncanny similarities that seem fabricated. How our connections to art and thoughts on society have slim to no differences, yet we grew up on polar opposites of the world, raised by completely different people.

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Sunrise in Nagarkot

On Tuesday, 16 April, Christine, Isaac and I traveled two hours east from Kathmandu to Nagarkot, nestled in the Central Hills.  This area was heavily damaged in the 2015 earthquake and the main road from Bhaktapur to Nagarkot still reflects heavy damage from washouts and hill slides.  Some new building construction is visible and many of the retaining walls have been rebuilt, but the roads have not been repaired yet, so travel from Kathmandu takes longer than usual.

The journey here, however, is well worth it!!! 

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