- Group:Latymer Upper & Holy Trinity School
- Age:15-18+ years old
- Group Size:22 students and 4 staff members
- Project:Service Learning (varied projects)
- Destination:Kathmandu, Nepal
In March of 2018, a group of 10 students and teachers from the Holy Trinity School in Toronto Canada and a group of 16 from the Latymer Upper School in London, UK, joined together to volunteer in Nepal. This bespoke trip provided a unique experience for students from opposite sides of the Atlantic to collaborate and learn about Nepal and its culture by focusing on selected UN Sustainable Developement Goals. Students immersed themselves in a range of placements in Kathmandu that focused on Care, Teaching, Medicine & Healthcare and Building. Irene and Lauren from the Holy Trinity School gave a presentation about their experiences on their trip and had this to say:
Sustainable Development Goals
“Hi senior school, my name is Irene. My name is Lauren and today we will be talking to you all about our service learning trip to Nepal that we went on this past spring. Our over-arching deep thinking question was “In what ways have the UN’s Sustainable Development Goals allowed us to better understand Nepal and its people?”. This trip was like none I’d ever done before. We travelled all the way to Asia, met up with Latymer Upper School from England, learnt some Nepali and got to work in a placement of our choice. These placements linked to the UN's three Sustainable Development Goals of No Poverty, Good Health and Wellbeing and Quality Education. Our placements were in a malnutrition and HIV centre, a centre for people with disabilities, a day care centre and finally there was a medical placement.
I was in the medical placement where we were visited by a doctor, a nurse and a dentist. We did a range of activities including teaching middle-schoolers emergency first-aid, learning how to suture, draw blood and take blood pressure manually. Throughout this placement, there was one over-arching theme which kept coming up and that was the lack of awareness surrounding medical issues in Nepal. We learnt that many people will just dismiss severe pain or injury giving it time to get worse. There are many different factors that influence this including people not wanting to spend money for treatment and not wanting to travel to a doctor. If any of these activities or topics interest you, I would highly recommend this placement if you would want to go on this trip in the future.
Working With Children
I had the opportunity to volunteer at the day care placement. The kids we worked with that were at the day care were between 1 and 3 years old and their parents were usually working to rebuild the infrastructure that was damaged during the earthquake in 2015. During the two days that we were there, we taught the children different nursery rhymes, finger-painted with them and also had a mini dance party. During lunch we made sure to look after them and made sure they ate all their food. One thing that all of us noticed was how well disciplined the kids were and all the kids listened really well to their teachers and did what the teachers asked them. This is a big contrast we discovered between the school in Nepal and our school here. While we were at the day care, we were also given the opportunity to ask the teachers about the education system in Nepal. One of the main things we learnt was that the government is slowly beginning to understand the importance of education and now they are trying to make the education system more affordable for everyone since everybody still has to pay.
Living With Host Families
One of my favourite things I got to experience was living in a Nepali family for a week. It really allowed all of us to immerse ourselves into the local culture and live in a local community. All of us stayed at four different homes with around five people in each one. We got to connect with the local family and experience the local cooking and food. At first, all of us were a bit unsure about what the living conditions would be like and if we would get along with the family, but after the week was over it was safe to say that all of us really enjoyed the home stay experience. The house I got to stay at was owned by a man named Yada, who lived with his wife Kamila and his two daughters. During the week, we truly got to experience the Nepali culture and one of our placement group’s favourite things to do was to play cards with the family and spend time with the two other volunteers who were taking a gap year out there.
We also did a lot of service on this trip including running an after school camp, organising a day of activities for children at Edu farm and helping with the construction of a school. Seeing as this was the first year that this trip ran, the teachers and students didn’t know how the camp and day activities were going to go. We had to plan all of the activities and make sure they ran smoothly.
On the day of the school camp, we had different groups of students teaching or playing with the children, Lauren and I taught Geography and English while others ran an Easter egg hunt, played sports and made friendship bracelets, and at the end of the day, we all taught the children the Macarena.
Edu Farm With The Nepal Youth Foundation
At Edu Farm, with a member of the Nepal Youth Foundation, we met Olga who is the founder of the foundation, and along with running activities at the camp, we learnt about the tragic past of the children there. These children had horrific pasts including abuse and drug addiction. Through learning about the education system, the healthcare system and the prevalence of poverty in Nepal, we could understand why these children were in these situations. Then at the end of the day, we also got to learn how to make Momos. These are traditional Nepali dumplings which was one of the highlights of the day.
The last piece of service that we did was to help with rebuilding a school that was devastated by the earthquake in April 2015. This is a lot harder than it looks in photos from service trips and my back was in pain for three days afterwards, but it was all worth it as we were a part of building a place where children can get an education.
Exploring Nepal And Its Culture
During the time that we were in Nepal, we also got to experience a lot of the culture and visit many of the cultural sites. We learnt about the social norms, different types of paintings in Nepal, from Hinduism and much more. The cultural sites included a cremation site, the Monkey Temple and the Bhaktapur Square. The square is a UNESCO World Heritage Site with monuments and temples that are centuries old. However, the square was damaged due to the earthquake in 2015 and is still in reconstruction, but it is still a very interesting place to go and allowed us to look more into the culture and history.
One of the most enjoyable moments of the trip was when we visited Pokhara which is a lakeside city. In Pokhara, we saw some of the Himalayan Mountains while visiting the World Peace Pagoda and during the weekend there, it was time for us to reflect on our time in Nepal and on our learning.
On Reflection – UN Goals
Again, the Nepal deep-thinking question we shared was “In what ways have the UN Sustainable Development Goals allowed us to understand Nepal and its people?” We looked at the goals; No Poverty, Good Health and Wellbeing and Quality Education. Before coming to Nepal, we researched one of these goals, depending on our placement, and used this understanding to look out for various indicators in Nepal. We discovered that in order to have good health and wellbeing, the citizens must have an education. In order to get a good education, you must have the money to do so and not be impoverished. If the people are impoverished, all of their family must help to make money and so many children will not get an education. Without exploring these goals, it would’ve been more challenging to see these connections. The connections between all of these goals show how difficult it is for a country to improve in one particular area. This helped us understand why some people do not get the vaccines that they should or why they do not get an education.
Nepal is full of loving people, people that have struggled all their life and people who are working to help their country improve and achieve these goals. The next time this trip will be run is 2020. This was an amazing experience and I hope all of the great minds in this room will consider going on this trip in the future. Thank you for listening.”
- Irene & Lauren, Students of Holy Trinity School, Ontario, Canada
If you would like to learn more about our projects in Nepal then please click here.
If you would like to learn more about our International Baccalaureate Projects and how we can tailor a project to fit a group’s educational needs, please click here.