A friend of mine is certified to teach English as a foreign language and could teach anywhere while he traveled. I accompanied him on one such stint in the beautiful village of Kavre, 35 kms off Kathmandu.
For a total of almost thirty days at Malpi International School, at the highest point of the Panauti village in the district of Kavre, I was an English counselor to students from the 4th to the 8th grade.
The mornings were spent with the younger ones, giving lessons in the warm winter sun. We read about Huckleberry Finn and got acquainted with one other. The late mornings were with the older ones in their respective classes, teaching them prose and introducing them to the effects of grammar. Post lunch, I would assist my friend with his sessions with the seniors. My favourite was watching movies with them to make understand the usage of the English language. It was easier to get through to them; and who doesn’t like movies after lunch?
Dusk brought in pretty sunsets. From atop the hill, we saw some spectacular skies. And as the kids got into their sports uniforms and ran around doing their rehearsals and bringing the place to life, every single day; I relished the decision of volunteering to teach while I explored Nepal and its cultures in a totally different perspective.
Nights were frigid. I used to be on duty in the girls hostel post dinner. The duty being: conversing with them and helping them with their projects. As the night grew dark, it got unbearably cold. Sleeping in one position was the only constant.
Early mornings called for running to classes, which has happened before. Only then, I did not know of the homework of a teacher. Skipping breakfast was normal and so was taking baths in the afternoons. Being a part of the annual sports event was a great way of spending time with everyone. Participating in the various preparations leading up to the spectacular big day was like a reward at the end of our experimental volunteer travel experience.
Volunteering during travel is a perfect way of experiencing the culture and making complete sense of your role as a conscious traveler. Considering, everyone you know keeps making comments about your innumerable travel plans; you have a humane angle that they have been missing all this while.
The two months in Nepal were spent in Kathmandu and Pokhara, exploring everything in between. Kathmandu helped us with lots of mountain gear shopping, lots of musical nights with locals, a lot of great Nepali food and hours of walking around Durbar Square. We were also a part of a Nepali wedding ceremony; completely underdressed due to the surprise invitation.
Lunch with a view of the Everest and all its peaks in Dhulikhel was one of the most memorable lunches I have ever had. What gandeur! A road trip to Pokhara with our local friends allowed us to eat a lot of highway food and we all know how delicious they always are. Soaltee and curry took my heart away.There, we stayed in a room with the view of Machapichare on one side and the Pokhara lake on the other, where we took long walks, chilled at the Busy Bee and saw shooting stars lying on top of Pame hill.Volunteering during travel is a perfect way of experiencing the culture and making complete sense of your role as a conscious traveler.
Meeting your counterparts from other parts of the world always gives you so many things to learn and be grateful about. Volunteering while traveling has given me ample of ideas to travel to more places. Efficiently as it can be, travel is a teacher for life.
Look away from the crowd, travel with your own rules.