Saturday, August 9, 2014

Oh, How Time Flies...

Whoa, this week few right on by! On Monday, we visited the schools and homestays in Lalitpur, and by lunchtime on Wednesday we had decided amongst ourselves who would be at what school. Ellen, Emily, and Lisa will be going off to Gorkha, while I will be going to Lalitpur with Caitlin and Elsie. It is such a relief to finally know where we will all be living for the next seven months. 

The best part of the week, however, came on Thursday afternoon. Due to exam schedules, Christine had to move our teaching practice from next week to this Thursday and Friday. The ETAs paired up: experienced teachers with the less experienced. I was paralyzed with stage fright on the drive over, even though Caitlin and I had prepared a solid lesson on counting and number sense. 

We strolled through the gateway of the school at the Tibetan refugee camp, and my nervousness dissipated. Smiling, tiny, adorable children will do that to you. Our grade class was a bit of a discipline nightmare, and kids who should have been in other classes kept shoving open the doors and window shutters to stare at us. We had to lock all of them (and barricade one of the doors with a bench), and the room turned into a bit of a sauna. The kids—all 24 of them—were worth the heat and noise. They were overjoyed when we pulled out a book we had written/illustrated just for them, when we announced that we had games for them to play, and especially when, after being told to teach another period, we took them outside to play Hokey-Pokey.

None of them knew right from left.

I think what might have made them most excited of all was when I told them, “Alanna-Miss and Caitlin-Miss brought a special friend along,” and withdrew my Indiana Jones Mickey Mouse doll from my bag. They might not have known their directions, but oh boy, did they recognize the world’s most famous mouse. One girl with a Mickey Mouse backpack was particularly overwhelmed. 

Caitlin and I barely escaped the classroom as a mob of children attacked us with hugs and kisses on the hands and cheeks (Mickey got his fair share as well). When we came back the next morning, our 2nd graders poured out of their classroom and surrounded us, much to the amusement of Robin, Christine, and the other ETAs. After another successful lesson—which included a reading of The Very Hungry Caterpillar—we had to leave for good. We taught them a farewell song (from Bear in the Big Blue House, I think), and as we departed, they covered us in kisses, flowers, and petals, and gave us a beautifully chromatic crayon drawing of a mango.
The lovely Caitlin with our hero, Indiana Mouse.
Leaving was heartbreaking, because I realized that we will most likely never see these kids again. We can only hope that the short time we spent with them will have some influence on their lives. Teaching practice was a wonderful exercise, though. I learned so much from watching Caitlin interact with the kids, as she used many of the techniques she picked up while student teaching. 

I still have a small amount of trepidation with regards to leaving the “comfort” of Kathmandu, but I feel most of it has been alleviated between actually standing in the front of a classroom and also, by meeting the woman who will become my aama, or (host) mother. She’s like an Italian mama in the body of a Nepalese woman—so basically, the most hospitable and friendly woman imaginable. I’m excited.

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