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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!

 

Monday
Mar312014

personal stuff

I was tired and a little cranky today.  My skin is terrible right now and I woke up to a face full of acne and breakouts.  The day was filled with meeting after meeting after meeting.  It’s a busy time of year with end of the school year activities, exams, scheduling, hiring, and admissions around the corner.  Admissions here can be emotionally draining.  We get so many inquiries and applicants.  Literally hundreds of people are lined up outside the gate trying to make their case for why they should get a seat at our school.  It’s sad and frustrating.  1000 kids for 25 spots.  It really just doesn’t add up.  I start to lose myself.  Short tempered Maggie comes out and she is not cool or fun to be around.  
At the end of school today, one of our student’s moms came to talk to me and Kelly and Min Sir.  This particularly sweet Kopila mommy has leprosy and her entire face, including one eye ball has been eaten away and disfigured by this horrifying disease.  It's so bad I even feel uncomfortable posting a picture of her.  The only person in her life is her son, a student at Kopila we all love and adore.  He lived with us for a while this year while his mom went to get treatment.
I felt so ridiculous sitting there looking at her, hearing the love and concern for her son in her voice, and thinking about how I had spent the morning upset, short tempered, and complaining about a few breakouts around my chin.  One thing is for sure.  Living in Nepal leaves very little space for vanity.  Whenever I find my self start to get complainey I always feel like there’s some sort of life lesson waiting around the corner to steer me and refocus whether it's a child sifting through the garbage, or a woman breaking stones on a dry river bed. 100 examples of suffering every day that make me realize all there is to be grateful for.  I guess it’s a gift in some ways, to have that constant check-in, but in other ways it can leave you feeling sad and like you want to take all the pain away and give away your every possession.  Every time I start to bite that hook of complaining, or gossiping, or being hard on myself about say, pimples, it’s like “BAM” I get snapped me back to reality.   
I’ve found lately that I’m not prioritizing spending time with my children and that makes me upset.  There’s always an excuse to drop what’s in front of me and move onto something else that needs attention, and lately I feel like it’s my time with the kids who have been getting the short stick.  I love that my children see me working hard and helping people, and being a leader but when I’m really present with them and take the time to chat I realize there are things I miss, being so "busy," or things that they don't share because they see "busy" on my face.   I know every mom feels the same way, like you’ll never ever have enough time but I’ve been feeling it extra hard since I’ve gotten back.  I have lots of good people to pick up my slack, (AHEM, Caroline, the fellows, aunties) but still, you know what I'm saying.  
Today at the end of my lonnng day I put my phone away put on my sneakers and played cops and robbers, jump rope and red rover with our larger than life family.  I can’t even remember the last time really truly “played” with my children today was a wake-up call.  Sad but true and I don’t think I’ve laughed as I hard as I did in a long long time.  It made the whole day better.

 

Sunday
Mar302014

KoPeck (Real Growth)

A post from Principal Kelly!

Dr. Struebling and Principal Mrs. SharmaPrincipal Nina Sharma and our Health Administrator Meelan Karki lead a presentation

As most of you know, The Peck School has been a special friend and mentor to us for the last 7 years and this year has been incredibly special in the “KoPECK” relationship. Nisha spent four months at Peck School as a visiting student and had the time of her life!  While Nisha works on compiling some of her journal and diary entries from the trip and sharing them here, we wanted to share some exciting news.  Our Peck Friends took their commitment to us even further and after escorting Nisha back from the states, school principal Nina Sharma and school psychologist Dr. Zan Struebing spent two weeks at Kopila conducting, training and implementing a program on character education.  The Peck School has their own nationally recognized and award-winning character education program know as InDeCoRe that has now gone GLOBAL! It was awesome having these two experts working along side the Kopila team to help us strategize and come up with our very own program and our own InDeCoRe acronym to fit our needs, the Kopila culture, and the values we want our students to embrace.

It is with great excitement that I share Kopila Valley has an official character education program that we'll be adapting for the new school year.  Kopila means "bud" and in our weekly assemblies we're always talking about the kids blooming, blossoming and growing into the person they want to be.  We were so lucky to have had Nina Sharma and Dr. Zan Struebling come and help us strategize and train our team.

Announcing the REAL GROWTH program at Kopila.

Respect

Effort

And

Love

Gratitude

OWnership

Teamwork

Honesty

Why Character Education?  Nina Madam and Zan Madam (as we referred to them here) both presented a ton of research being done on the importance of teaching moral values and character alongside leadership and academics. 

Here's an awesome short video on the research behind building character if you're interested and want to learn a little more about what we're striving for.

We also love Linda Kavelin Popov's The Virtues Project.  We've been using it a lot in our home.

Instead of yelling “Pay attention and listen!” or “Show your sister respect!” as a team, we've been working really hard to explain and model what good listening, respect and other values look like.  But now, thanks to the PECK school we now have the framework to make values a priority.  Our REAL GROWTH trained Kopila teaching team will be focusing on one value per term starting with Respect.  Love and Gratitude are also at the heart of the program (figuratively and literally)

Our teachers are enjoying taking what they have learned and putting it into practice every day.  Some of what our team needed was new language and consistency that they can use in the classroom and walking through the halls we can hear the teachers practicing the language in both English and Nepali.

“Thank you for your effort on your math exam today”

“I am so grateful  to those students who are listening quietly”

“Wow, he had such great team work for the Corporal Punishment Conference!”

As fellows and teachers we all really loved having such amazing professionals around to use as a resource. Becky spent hours into the night with Zan talking about the counseling center and I felt incredibly thankful to be able to bounce ideas about school culture around with Nina. We are so lucky to have such amazing people supporting us from around the world and PECK is at the top of the list!  You can read more in Peck News!  Mrs. Sharma and Dr. Struebling also posted about their entire experience on the Peck Blog. Our teachers

Staff development training using puppets!

Friday
Mar282014

Kopila poems

Last week we were visited by two of the coolest girls!  Kopila loved having them and everyone was impressed with how their family jumped right in, rolled up their sleeves and became a part of the team here, even amidst the chaos.  Odessa and Sigourney even went to classes and were "students for the day."  In Susanne's English class little sister Odessa wrote this beautiful poem that I couldn't help but want to share with world.  Actually i think it's hands down one of the best compliments I've ever heard about this place.  

Odessa's poemKopila Valley

Here it is peaceful,

somewhere all of your 

worries are gone, yet soft

and gentle like a friendly short 

song.  I feel so different, so 

friendly and kind, but who

knows maybe it just a myth in

my mind. but that's the best 

part see, you dont really know,

if maybe your body is putting

on a show, or maybe this is the

real, real, you, a realer you, than you 

ever knew.  

Odessa and Manisha

And a sweet poem by our very own Krishna Bogati who is quiet the writer these days!  Sarah Kay has clearly left a lasting impression.

The world around me!

The world around me is very similar to the world around you.
It is filled with trees which give cool breeze in the hot summer.
There are flowers that smell like the incense inside your house.
It is filled with those people who make the world more beautiful and meaningful. When I am around them I feel like I don't need anything else all I really need is the people I love and the people who care about me.
I don't know why I feel like all these people are perfect.
They know the right things to do at the right times and the know the best word to say when you need them.
They are all like gods and goddesses who have come to the world to make this place even better than it is.
The world is not only filled with houses,trees,flowers,animals and birds. It is also filled with beautiful people who are meant to make the world even better.
So,I love the world around me.

Written by:Krishna bogati


Friday
Mar282014

Ganga's feet

You may remember from 6 months or so back when we told the story of our dear little friend Ganga who needed surgery for her feet.  She was struggling to walk due to a birth defect.  It's funny how you really can take the little things for granted.  I think it's rare that we think to ourselves, "Man, I'm really grateful for my feet."  

Some really happy news came today.  Ganga is back :) After multiple surgeries, casted molds, and a 6 month stay in the hospital, Ganga is well on her way to having functional walking feet and well on the road to recovery.  I can't imagine being in a hospital for 6 months with my feet in plaster and having to be carried absolutely everywhere.  The way Ganga takes it all with such ease and a smile is so inspiring and admirable to me.  This is a really special kid and today I found myself feeling like I would do absolutely anything for her.  She still has a long way to go.  Her brother and mom told me today that Ganga will have to wear special shoes and braces until she is 35 and for the next few years probably have to go back to the hospital every 2-3 months on an 18 hour bus-ride.  She'll also most likely require another surgery or two.  But today, when she took off her heavy shoes I was startled to see that she has real actual functioning feet and she was smiling ear to ear.  

Donor support and the generosity of H.R.D.C. hospital made this possible for Ganga and we are so thankful.  I think the picture really says it all.  When I say that "together we can change the world," I really mean it. 

Ganga (before surgery)Ganga (after surgery) Modern medicine and surgical procedures are truly a miracle!Thank you for supporting this brave little girl!