Another early morning at the Thapa household means another early morning being woken up by our human alarm clock, Aakash. I’ve almost come to welcome it. It’s not just Aakash but also his older sister Amisha who spits a million Nepali words a second, shouting to someone as if they were in another room 30 yards away. It’s all part of a typical morning at my home stay. I wake up, the kids bring me tea or coffee, I lounge for a bit, brush my teeth, rinse my face, get dressed, and eat dal bhat breakfast. I have yet to take a shower here in the mountain and I probably never will. The water is Antarctica cold and the shower isn’t really a shower. It’s a hole that just happens to have water come out of it. I’m a stinky smelly boy up here but surprisingly still I never smell half as bad as the students at the school.
“Dan…,” called Principal Aatma from the door of the computer lab. “The accounting teacher is absent. Can you teach accounting to grade 9?”
“Yeah,” I answered. I’m pretty sure I can just teach whatever is in their text books. I was just happy to have a class to myself.
When I went into the grade 9 room, the students asked if I were their teacher. I said ‘yes’ and received claps and cheers. I asked them to take out their accounting book. They told me they didn’t have an accounting book and that the teacher usually just teaches off the top of his head. I’m pretty sure the accounting here is way different from the accounting I learned back home, so I thought I’d scrap that and try a totally different subject: Public Speaking.
“Okay guys,” I said to them. “I’ve noticed over the past couple of weeks that when you read out loud in English, that it is very fast and to me it sounds like a completely different language.”
The students were as silent as the night, each with their eyes fixed on me as I spoke in front of the them. “When you move onto high school, you’re gonna have to give speeches and presentations in front of large groups and even when you’re a little older, you’re going to have to be able to speak properly and with confidence if you really want to stand out from everyone. It makes all the difference.”
The students showed me faces of agreement and when I called out the students that I mentioned spoke really fast, they laughed in shyness.
I doubt the students will learn about this in their high school courses. This was pulling off the top of my head, but I had the students jot quick notes and had a few practicing by talking a bit about themselves in front of the class, but using the tips I just taught them. Of course, I had to lead by example by telling them about myself. I’m not the don of public speeches. As a matter of fact, I hate speaking in front of groups of people. But when the times call for it, I know what to do. It’s different being in front of a classroom to myself. All my anxiety of speaking in front of others disappears. If these students don’t believe my presence when I speak in front of them, then they won’t take my lesson to heart. The period flew by and I had their attention the entire time. I asked them to keep their notes because for when their teacher is absent again, we’ll pick up where we left off.
I’d have to say the grade 9 class is my favorite so far. They are comprised of mostly girls, but man are they funny! The five boys in the class are quiet but always have their heads in the books compared to the boys in the other grades. Grade 8 would be one of my favorites too, but there’s one student in the class who ruins it for everyone. His name is Milan and he’s a troublemaker. He likes to talk back to the volunteers, but in Nepali so we can’t understand what he’s saying. He’s constantly chattering and arguing with the other students as well. He’s a good kid when he wants to be but most of the time he’s a pain. Then there’s the class of grade 7, another favorite of mine. All boys and only two girls.
The two girls have bonded together well since they are the only females representing grade 7, surrounded by a bunch of rowdy boys. The boys in this class have a tighter connection with each other than the rest of the grades and it shows especially when it comes to volleyball.
Over the past week or so, I’ve managed to rally the older classes together to hold a volleyball tournament over the next few weeks. Only grades 7 through 9 would participate, with the boys facing the boys and the girls facing the girls. Aatma welcomed the idea of a little competitive spirit and let me run the entire tournament. It’s nothing serious. It’s just something for the students to look forward to and will help give a much needed dose of school pride amongst Bal Prativa. Each Friday, school ends at 1:30pm so afterwards I invited the whole school out to the field for friendly matches. This would let me work out even teams, who can and wants to play, and to propose team captains to a boy and girl in each grade. I also invited a team of students from a rival school to participate with my students. The other younger grades showed up to support their respective schools when they played against the rival school. I played referee since the Nepali volleyball rules were jacked, I implemented organized, yet fair rules. Rallys and rotations. The day turned out to be a massive success!
Next week we would begin the official teams and begin the tournament with the older classes!