My adventure to Nepal began in Sheffield at the PHASE Conference where I immediately got a sense that this was the kind of charity I wanted to get involved in. Purposeful, committed and inspiring were my over-riding impressions of the PHASE staff. As I left, I felt a great surge of excitement about getting involved with an organisation that brought people together from different cultures (this may have been heightened by the Brexit vote the day before!)
I arrived in Nepal in October and after a wonderful trek to Annapurna base camp I started my six-week placement at PHASE. The timing of my trip was perfect in terms of beautiful blue skies every day and the fact that all the field staff were back in Kathmandu for the holiday season. This meant that I could run training sessions for the education team and find out all about the wonderful work they do.
I ran around five workshops on making lessons more interactive, storytelling and phonics. The workshops involved lots of games, drama and dancing!
The best thing about working with PHASE was the sense of fun and laughter that runs through the whole office. The managers see the benefits of creating a team who are friends as well as colleagues and I was lucky enough to attend one of the team building sessions – football and egg throwing! It was a great afternoon!
After the holidays of Tihar and Diwali were over, the field staff headed back to the villages where the real work happens. I then started working in several different local schools where I ran phonics workshops as that is my area of expertise and phonics is just developing as a way of learning to read English in Nepal.
To get a real impression of the work that PHASE does, you need to go out into the field. Many of the staff work in very remote locations which take days to travel to. As I was a little restricted with time I managed to organise a visit to the village of Rayale, the most accessible area that PHASE works in. Despite being relatively close to Kathmandu, it felt worlds apart. A very simple, rural existence was a welcome relief from the hectic pace of life in Kathmandu. I spent four days in the village working with two schools where I ran training sessions on behaviour management and was thrilled to get to see the wonderful education officer, Sumati deliver a girls empowerment workshop.
In my time working as an education volunteer with PHASE, I learnt so much about Nepali life. My wonderful colleagues taught me about the history of Nepal, the religion, the language and very importantly the delicious food! I view the trip as an exchange of ideas. As a trained teacher, I had a lot I could offer in terms of improving the education system but I came back feeling that I had learnt more than I had taught. The most commonly asked question in Nepal is ‘When are you coming back?’ After my experiences with PHASE, I’m sure it won’t be too long!
Gemma Golds, 2017
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