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5/10 Mike in Nepal – Keeping a Low Profile

5/10 Nepal school 

Namaste everybody!

I’m writing this on my last day in Chitwan, tomorrow I’m heading back to Kathmandu and hopefully to Everest in a week. These last few weeks have been full of ups and downs and although the treks and adventures have been temporarily suspended we’ve been living the last few days in relative comfort.

I’ve now been in the jungles for about two and a half months now. The effects of summer are starting to be felt. Its absurdly hot everyday and we’re seeing the pre-monsoon rains, and when it rains here, it absolutely pours. These last few weeks have been a mix of extremely hot days, and much cooler and windy nights.

The kids have been off of school because of the strike (more on that later) so they’ve been coming like clockwork to learn, and I’ve been making the most of the lessons, lecturing, assigning homework, giving tests, and trying to give each child individual help.

We’ve become quite popular in the neighborhood as when I started here I had 7 kids in my class, and now I have over 20.

The kids schoolbooks aren’t very helpful, they are full of grammatical and factual errors. Some of the textbooks also sell the kids awful lessons, such as one of the kids social studies books that teaches children that people from other castes should be avoided and ignored. We were all shocked and confiscated the books. Another of the kids “textbooks” reads like a magazine questionnaire. It shows a picture of an animal with three check boxes of what the animal could be without having any explanation or description or pretty much anything remotely teachable. Adding insult to injury, the animals are all foreign so trying to teach a Nepali child what a Koala bear is is hopeless.

Although the kids are difficult we’ve made remarkable progress with them since I first arrived. I am very pleased to see improvements in both math and handwriting with all the kids. My catch phrase has apparently become “On the line!” stemming from me telling the kids constantly to write their letters on the lines of the paper instead of floating everywhere, so walking through the street I’ll hear randomly: “Mike! Mike! On the line! On the line!” The older kids have been going through their science books and after 3 weeks of having to teach them the difference between a living and non living object (trying to convince them a rock was non living was a challenge) we’ve moved on to plants, animals, and the human body. We are still coming up with how to teach reproduction safely.

I also got to sit in on the medical post one day. I tagged along with our resident nurses Maggie from USA and Sam from England to a small clinic on the outskirts of town. Most of the injuries in the town come from farming injuries and heat stroke although the people seem to want their blood pressure constantly checked again and again. The clinic itself is plastered with all sorts of posters, some helpful, and some bizarre, and a free condom dispenser which looks like it hasn’t been used in ages. The heart of the medical post is the secretary who although having no training whatsoever feels free to distribute powerful drugs to people with relatively minor conditions. There also is an exaggeration of bandages, we had one man who came in with a head covered in bandages and when removed revealed one, yes, a single stitch.

More shortly…  Namaste Everyone!    … Contributing guest author and photographer, Michael Restivo, for MiamiRealEstateCafe.com

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