Picture Courtesy: DeerExpress Club
On 17th June 2016, the Deer Express Club hosted three of the first graduates of DWIT, Shankar Koirala, Bhawana Dahal, and Anil Shrestha to share their 2 months of volunteering experience in the remote parts of Syangja district. It had been a long time that we hadn’t seen or talked to them. Thus, everyone was excited to hear them share their experience. The program started with everyone singing the national anthem.
After graduating, the seniors were given an opportunity to teach the students and teachers of some local schools in the remote villages of Syangja district. Shankar Koirala, Bhawana Dahal, and Anil Shrestha gladly accepted the opportunity. Although there were plenty of other opportunities for them, they chose to volunteer. They knew that this would be a difficult challenge but one worth experiencing. They spent entire two months teaching how to use computers and how to program to students and teachers who didn’t even had any basic knowledge about computers. They had worshiped computers when it had first arrived in their village. It was not an easy task to teach them.
Shankar Koirala shared his experience first. The first change that we noticed in him was that he greeted us with "Namaste". Though it is our culture, it seems a bit unusual in school. We greeted him back. He learned this during his volunteering experience.
After the greeting, Shankar Koirala shared his experience. Shankar Koirala along with Bhawana Dahal had started their journey from Kathmandu to Pokhara on 28th Chaitra. After a 5 hour long drive from Pokhara, they had finally reached their destination. They spent their first month in Shree Sarbodnaya School. There challenge had begun the day they reached the village. They knew well that it was not only about teaching, but also about adapting in the place, getting to know the people, and surviving.
They met the principal of the school and got familiar with the problems that both the teachers and students were facing. There were computer courses from grade 6 to grade 10. But, the computer teacher's knowledge was not enough to guide the students of grade 9 and 10. There were no resources available for grade 9 and 10. And also the computers were limited in number.
They devised a plan to make three groups. The first group was the one with the old teachers who had no idea about computers. They taught them some basic things such as using MS Word. The other group consisted of students who were interested in learning the computer. And, the final group consisted of the students from the high school. They taught MS Excel, Q-Basic, HTML, and C-Programming. Despite having a very tight schedule where they had to work 6 hours a day, they happily helped the students on Saturdays as well.
One of the challenges they faced was having the same dish every day. They spent one whole month eating daal, cabbage, and rice. In order to get any other vegetables, they had to walk for 2 hours.
They had a tough time living in that village but they completed their first challenge. A small farewell program was held by the school for them. Their task at Shree Sarbodnaya School ended on 24th Baishak.
After the farewell program, they headed to the next village (their new challenge). They went to Shree Daraun Higher Secondary School where they were warmly welcomed. They found the people of this village friendlier and enthusiastic than the previous one.
First, they met the principal of that school. Shankar Koirala claimed the principal was smart. Even though it was a government school, students were taught in English medium, thanks to the principal. The students had computer course in their curriculum but there was a lack of resources - qualified teachers and enough computers.
The students in the school showed enthusiasm in learning. They taught Q-basic to grade 9 and Q-basic and C programming to grade 10. They also taught HTML and Q-basic to the computer teacher. The computer teacher was smart and a quick learner. Within a month, he learned everything that they taught him. There were only 5 computers available in that school and the students didn’t even get a chance to touch the computers. So, in order to give every student time on the computer, they decided to run classes on Saturdays as well. Since the people were very friendly and kind, they got attached to the people from that village. It was hard for them to leave that village. But, their hard work had paid off. They were able to earn the respect, love and affection of the students as well as the villagers.
According to Bhawana Dahal, she became stronger than before and learned to be patient. She was able to see drastic change within herself and learned to appreciate people and things she had in her life. She quoted, “When you face the worst then you can know the value of the best.”
After Bhawana Dahal finished sharing her experience, Anil Shrestha stood up. He seemed different than when he was in school. Anil seemed more professional with a blue formal shirt and soft pant. He also had a handbag along with him.
He started his experience sharing by providing information about the government school’s rules and policies. He said that it is necessary to know about it before listening to his experience. His first journey was in Shree Ghante Higher Secondary School which started from 28th Chaitra and ended on 24th Baishak. The other school was Shreejan Higher Secondary School where he volunteered from 25th Baishak to 21st Jestha. The teachers and students from the first school were not interested in learning from him. They weren’t participating and didn’t attend his classes. There also was no electricity in the first village and so he wasn’t able to teach. There were about 9 laptops provided by a Rotary club and 4 desktops provided by the government which wasn’t working.
In the second school, he announced to the teachers and students that they should assure two things - continuity and interest. It helped in making the classes productive and fruitful. He also shared some useful tricks and tips so that we wouldn’t have to struggle when we volunteered in the future.
He ended his presentation with some wonderful pictures from his journey and a song played by one of the female teachers from the school which was dedicated to him. The trend of volunteering in government schools of rural areas should continue in our school and every batch should get an opportunity.