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Saturday
Apr192014

New Year's Camping

It's still our summer vacation over here.  We made a bucket list for vacation and are slowly but surely making our way through it.  Bucket lists are our new favorite thing these days.  Awesome for big families.  At the start of vacation we make a list of all the things we want to do and accomplish and then slowly chip away at them.  It makes the long summer days go by fast and fun.  Family soccer games, room cleaning competitions, cooking challenges, scavenger hunts and movie marathons.  It's kind of like our own Kopila summer camp over here.

We decided to spend Nepali New Year's on a camping trip with all of the big kids.  It was the perfect little adventure.  We packed up food and survival gear and headed out into the wilderness on our trusted school bus.  Jamie and the volunteers google mapped a potential drop off area and then we all hiked down to the Karnali river.  A path leading down from a teeny tiny village ended up taking us to a little piece of paradise.

We spent the day jumping off of rocks, bird watching, swimming in the river, skipping stones, and doing gymnastics on the sand.  We cooked dinner over the fire, made a failed attempt to catch fish, and made shelters from the jungle.  Poor Krishna Shahi got bit by a scorpion while picking up a rock for our lean-to.  It was actually kind of scary because scorpions in Nepal can be dangerous.  Caroline whipped out her first aid kit, and thankfully Deepak had some ice left in his frozen waterbottle.  We called out to a local guy who happened to be crossing the river on a tube at the perfect moment and he rowed over.  The boys had found and caught the scorpian that bit Krishna and showed it to him and he told us not to worry. He immediately took off the pincher crushed the scorpion up on the rock and rubbed it over Krishna's finger.  Anti-venom?  I'm still not sure if there's anything to be said for this but I've learned in the past that sometimes village remedies are the way to go. At last we called back home to Becky at home who dug out our go to book "where there is no doctor", and as the ibuprofen started to kick in and we all calmed down.   

We made camp fires, sang songs, celebrated Krishna Bogati's birthday, played our favorite music on Kelly's portable speakers and danced around the fire (tribal style.)  When night fall came around it got cold and all we had was our homemade shelters and fires to keep us warm.  Some of the kids stayed up chatting til two in the morning snuggled up in their blankets but eventually everyone fell asleep.  It was the first time in a long time that we've gotten the space to be so together with just the older kids and it was such a treat.  You know how when there's little kids in a family they can sop up a lot of the energy and attention?  No offense to the little kids or anything, we love them, but this trip made us all realize with the kids getting older how important it is for them to have "big kid" time and opportunities.  I've never seen them all so "in their element", Bhakta with the machete climbing in the trees reminded me of how I knew him when we met and seeing how natural they all were gliding up and down the mountain, and how they shrieked with joy jumping into the river, or laughed skipping rocks.  At one point snuggled around the fire watching them all dancing wildly under the full moon, I thought to myself, this is the happiest I've felt in a long long long time.  What a gift to sit under the stars, by the fire, with food in our bellies and water from the river.

When the morning came around we played a little more, packed up camp, and made our way back up up up the mountain.  We got up to the village, drank tea with biscuits, and the bus arrived just in time to take us home.  We all slept the entire two hour ride through the forest back to Kopila HQ, promising ourselves that we would do it all again soon.

It's officially the year 2071 here in Nepal!!!!  Happy NEW YEAR!!!!  Thanks for letting us share our adventure with you. 

Thursday
Apr172014

We're hiring!

Kopila Valley School is on a hiring spree for up and coming school year.  We're looking for outside the box, hard-working individuals who love to teach and love to learn! Fluency in English and Nepali is a must. Interested in joining our team? Please send resumes and inquiries to: Kopilaschool@gmail.com
☆ please share this message to help us spread the word!

We have vacancies at Kopila Valley for the following positions:

1 School Administrator

1 High School Math teacher

1 Children's Home Caregiver

 

***Applicants must be Nepalese please!  :)
Thursday
Apr172014

Summer Vacation

It’s Kopila Valley Summer Vacation.  We finished off our last day of school with a big assembly and performances.  We announced our student award winners and the winner of the big KOPILA CUP!  Congratulations Sky house! Shannon and the teachers and volunteers organized field day activities. (Corn hole, kick the soccer ball through the tire, face painting, and a ring toss.  There were samosas, juice boxes, and a lot of dancing. Kelly and the teachers put together the most beautiful end of the year newsletter that we distrubted to everyone.  Tears were shed as Susanne, our amazing English teacher and Nate who ran our tutoring program said their goodbyes.  Susanne’s 9th graders worked on the most beautiful book of writing and poetries that they published. I hope to share some here. Nate whose been running our tutoring center said goodbye as well.  It's a hard time of year bidding our amazing fellows goodbye.  
It’s a busy time of year for our admin team. 8th grade took their standard exams and totally rocked them.  The teaching team worked hard administering final exams and report cards,  closing out the school year and planning the new one.  It’s that time of year again and we all can't believe the school year is over.  We’re working on the new schedule, hiring new teachers, renewing contracts, gearing up for admissions, ordering text books and supplies, backpacks and shoes. The women’s center has been busy getting all the new uniforms stitched up.  Most days it feels like there’s a few hundred moving parts and pieces.  Even though school is off for the break for a little over two weeks for summer, the kids are all still hanging around pretty bored and waiting for school to start up.
As for the construction we’re finishing off phase 1 of pre-construction and planning and gearing up for a big move into phase 2.  Our team went to Kathmandu after school finished up and met with our architect and team of experts helping us with the project.  The more we meet and go back and forth with plans the more excited we all start to feel.  We definitely have had our moments of stress but getting everyone in the same room in Kathmandu made us all really fired up.   We’re taking our time, making big decisions and inching forward, one step at a time. 
More to post but for now wanted to get everyone up to speed on the happenings around here.
Love from Kopila on our summer vacation,
Maggie and the gang

 

Thursday
Apr032014

A blog from Nisha!

We are so happy Nisha is home!

When Maggie told me that I was going to spend 4 months in America, I was both excited and nervous.  It was like a dream come true but while saying bye to my brothers and sisters and the life I know here at Kopila Valley, I couldn't help but feel a little scared. I got to the US on November 15th with Nena who was a fellow at Kopila for 11 months. I had to take 7 flights to get there and it was the longest journey of my life on the plane. I was nervous to start a new school and meet new people. It was very overwhelming... malls, tall buildings, different people, traffic. It was a lot to take in.

When I walked in to Peck school on my first day, Mrs. Sharma was there waiting for me and when I met all the Peck kids, they were very welcoming and nice.  It was different being in a new school with new kids in a new country. On my first weekend Maggie and I made a bucket list of things I should do when I was in America. I had ice cream, went and saw Annie on Broadway, and checked out starbucks.  It might sound crazy but I really wanted to see a cemetery because in Nepal we burn our dead and I had only read about them in books.

I loved the way teachers taught at The Peck School. They had a class ‘Academic Support’ where kids could ask teachers about something they didn’t understand and do homework. I think American history was the most challenging subject for me but I learned so much.  I loved art and music class. I made a bridge out of toothpicks in science and read Romeo and Juliet with the 8th graders in English. Everyone uses a computer and I started to be more comfortable too.  

My favorite part about Peck was the people there. They were caring and helpful and kind and loving. They made me feel like I was home and I don't know how the time passed so quickly there. I used to get lost in the buildings a lot and forget where my classes were. Any kids or teachers, whoever found me would help me out. I loved learning to play volleyball and softball and playing on a team with a coach cheering me on. My first goal there was to speak louder and be more confident. It was definitely hard for me at first. Sometimes I would spend my time with the lower kids and they would ask me lots of questions about Nepal. Most of them didn’t know where Nepal was and they had many interesting questions. Most of the kids asked me if I was allergic to something and why I didn’t eat cow meat.  I was very surprised with the traffic there and buildings and how people were always on schedule.

I got the best host family in the world!!!! They are the nicest people I know. I had lots of new experiences with them. I got to celebrate Christmas and New Years and Thanksgiving. We did lots of fun stuffs together like horse back riding, bowling, Disney World, dancing, the monuments in D.C. and going to the aquarium. The weather was very new for me.  I heard it was an unusually cold winter and living in -25 degree Celsius was crazy!!! I definitely did my fair share of complaining.  I tried lots of new food and I like how people sit for meals at restaurant and talk a lot. I learned a lot about the things I saw there. It was so surprising how women were doing the same things as men and girls were treated equally as boys. They were driving, speaking louder, were confident and strong like men. Now in Nepal when I see some girls hesitating to tell what they think or when the girls are not treated equally as boys, I encourage them to speak up. Being in America has changed my view and perspective. One of the most important things I learnt there was to speak up. Just say what you think with confidence. It was a good experience for me to see how people lived in the USA and I got to experience how it was like to live with a little family when I have been living most of my life with a big family and lots of people around. When I left America, it was very sad but I was also excited to see everyone in Nepal and share my experiences in America. Everyone had questions for me and I did my best to answer them.  Of course I miss my Peck friends and host family and all the other people I met there. There is so much love no matter where you are. Thank you to Peck and to all of you who made this experience possible for me.

Monday
Mar312014

Meet the Fellows: Amy Be Free!

AmyBFree rocks in the classroom!

Amy Freedman is our Early Childhood Fellow and spends her days in the classroom with our little nuggets.  I call her "Amy Be Free" because that's her twitter handle (@AmyBFree) and I've known her on twitter for years!  We were short on volunteer rooms when she arrived so she endured three weeks sleeping on a mattress on my floor and listening to Sara Bareilles on repeat day after day ;)  Amy is from Kansas and holds a degree in Elementary Education but she spent the past few years as the Executive Assistant to the COO of The Weather Channel.  How cool is that?   Amy is in charge of supporting our nursery, kindergarten and first graders and their teachers in the classroom. She is constantly coming up with creative games and exercises and helping us develop our curriculum and work to give the kids a hands on learning experience.  When the littles ones arrive at Kopila they don't speak A SINGLE WORD of English so the communication barrier can be really difficult in the early childhood years.  Half the time Amy has no idea what the kids are saying to her.  It's amazed me to watch her navigate the language barrier and come out on top. Today she's taking 40 of her students on a picnic field trip.  Talk about bravery!