As part of our long term partnership with Gladstone Academy in Nepal, Mrs Fay and Miss Jarvis were granted funding from the British Council Connecting Classrooms project to visit the school.
This was Mrs Fay’s 5th visit to the school and a first time trip to Nepal for Miss Jarvis.
Met at the airport in Kathmandhu by Mr Binod Kumar Koirala in their bright yellow school bus, we set off on the short trip to our guest house in the beautiful city of Bhaktapur. Miss Jarvis was so excited at the sight of sacred cows taking a lie down in the middle of the busy highway but when she saw a huge goat being transported on a motorbike…..!
Our guest house was above a traditional wood carving shop, up several flights of narrow stairs. Breakfast was served on the roof terrace in warm, hazy sunshine. We definitely were a million miles away from cold, wintery Bowburn!
The school driver arrived to take us for our first day in school. Gladstone Academy is set on 3 adjoining sites and has pupils from 2 year old to 16. There are approximately 1600 pupils altogether!
A uniformed security guard opened the gates to the school compound and we were greeted with garlands of fresh jasmine and bunches of flowers by children from Year 1 dressed in beautiful traditional dress.
The photo of these girls show us with Binod Kumar Koirala, the Head teacher, Manju Shreshtha who is Head of the pre primary department and Pradeep Shreshtha the Head of Finance and Management for the school.
Before our tour of the Lower School began, we sat and enjoyed a cup of ginger tea! The most gorgeous drink ever!
Mrs Manju Shreshtha, Head of the Under 7 department proudly showed us around her classrooms where lots of excited children were eager to greet us and then we sat in her office to give her a crash course in Phonics! So many of our sounds are extremely difficult for Nepali people to pronounce and Manju is very keen to learn each one correctly so she can share with her staff. Despite her best efforts, certain sounds were just not coming and “Sheep” will always be “SEEP” to us!
Lunch time was very welcome as we had been to see the new school kitchen. After seeing Bowburn children receiving a hot, fresh cooked meal every day, Gladstone Academy now provide their pupils with hot food. Miss Jarvis and I were astounded watching the cooks making hundereds of Momos, so rapidly! Momos are small filled dumplings that can be steamed or fried. Totally delicious!
Our first, exhausting day, ended with a meal in a restaurant with Binod and Binod.
The following day was spent in the 7 to 11 year old department ably run by Mr Tshiva Thapa Magar. This department was built two years ago and based on the design of Bowburn Infants school. Tshiva was very impressed by the layout of our school when he visited here 4 years ago and when his new department was being designed, he requested something similar to ours with a central open “Hall” and all the classes leading on to it. There, we took part in daily assembly led by the older pupils. We spent time in each of the classes too.
As this was Miss Jarvis’s first visit to Nepal, Binod was eager to show as much of his country as possible. A trip to Patan with Mrs Suresh Shrestha was followed by an amazing home cooked Newari meal at his home. Binod also took us to his home for a totally different style of cooking before taking us to one the largest Buddhist Stupas in the world, Boudhanath.
Our final day began with a morning in the classes then a hair raising car journey to Nagarkot! Up and up along bumpy roads and dirt tracks till we reached a very luxurious hotel! Out on the balcony we were humbled and teary as we saw the breath taking range of the East Himalayan mountains in from of us!
Our last evening was filled with laughter, amazing food and friendship as the senior staff from Gladstone Academy joined us for a farewell meal.
The love, friendship and care given to us by our partners in Nepal can never be measured.