Arambha

Roosters crowing children growing, got big plans but dirty pants, with kids to teach life is sweet!

Tag Archives: Kopila Kids

A Sprouting Bean

If you follow Maggie and Blinknow, you know that Namraj is a handful. Not being a talker hasn’t stopped him from letting you know exactly what he wants by pointing, scowling, whining, screaming, and – if necessary – delivering a pint-sized dose of Kung Fu with his mini-me Bruce Lee feet and hands.

I get along well with kids in general, but babies don’t take to me very quickly. It isn’t just Namraj who avoids my company. Monica doesn’t care for me to even looking at her, baby Madan ran from me every time I saw him during my last stay, and there were a few nursery class applicants this year who preferred anyone but me interview them.
So I’m not offended by Namraj’s wiley ways.

The fact remains however that Maggie is on sabbatical, Kusum and Ubji are visiting family in India, and the rest of us are really busy! In Nepal it really does take a village to raise a child, so Libby (who just came down with a stomach bug) has been leading the effort to change the baby’s picky ways and force him to like and accept all of us – weird white people included.

Last week he spent 45 minutes pacing up and down the third floor hallway and Libby’s room screaming bloody murder because she wanted him to play on his own and practice walking (he’s not as sure-footed as he could be, because everyone wants to hold him. He truly suffers from being so cute…I digress…) You would have thought she was barbecuing his toes. He banged on Kusum’s door hoping she would rescue him. He walked to the front balcony and wailed for help. We followed close behind as he climbed the stairs to the roof where he plopped down and screamed to the heavens for mercy. Finally he wore himself out and Libby was able to take him downstairs swaddled on her back.

Caitlin and I are the last adult frontiers. I don’t know if it’s because we’re so white, or Caitlin’s so tall, maybe my nose is too big…whatever it is, he just doesn’t approve. Today Gyanu had been with him all morning and had things of her own to do. I found her in the hallway trying to give the baby to Tope. He looked so tired and worn out from driving twice in three days to the Indian border that I just grabbed the baby for a guerilla-style daycare adventure.

He wasn’t too bad. In fact, he was kind of good. Just as he was drifting off to sleep, the lunch gong rang, and he woke up. He let me carry him all the way to the school for our meal. We shared a plate of vegetables and dhaal bhat. He listened to me when I said no to him bothering the other aunties and didis while they were eating. Washed his face and nose – no major issues. Checked his diaper – no drama. Carrying him back to the house and up to the third floor – happy as a clam. He fussed a little when he realized there was no one else around, but after telling him to be quiet and sleep – he did just that.

And now he’s sleeping on my bed – like a little lima bean, storing up energy for its next growth spurt. Kudos to Libby – her sink or swim approach is turning this quasi-neurotic baby into a healthy, well-balanced toddler.

If you really study his face for a few moments you'll see the potential for mischief that lurks inside....

All’s well….

Hi guys! I’m sitting with Maya right now. She has a really brightly colored, silky kind of suit on. It’s a kind of floral print korta with electric purple jam pants. Fitting.

I’ve talked non stop about the kids and staff at Kopila to my friends and family at home. I’m sure over the past few weeks Brendan has wished there was something besides Sabita’s angelic smile or Nabin’s nonstop enthusiasm for me to talk about. But with my trip fast approaching it’s been hard not to think about all the perfect little people that live at Kopila, and what it would be like to see them again. Would they remember me? If they did, would it be fondly? It’s hard for me to imagine that they could really care much when there are 40+ other people to love on each one of them.

When I arrived the first person that I locked eyes with was Maya. I pounded on the glass and waved like a crazy person, and started opening the door before the car had stopped. And she had this huge Maya smile – a little bit crazy, a whole lot heart. You know she was the first kid I met when I came to Kopila last summer.

So now here she is telling me she wants to write on the blog. She offers to spell my name for me on the blog: “L – I – S – A yeah?” She’s been practicing but Marshall is still a hang up – it’s too much like the Nepali name Magar.

I ask her about her day…how was school, what did she do…was it fun…

Teacher nice teacher reading.

Oh? What about?

A doggy.

That’s nice. What happened?

The dog in fight.

Oh.

Yeah, and there was a lot of blood. On his back.

Hmm. That’s strange. I don’t remember curating any dog fight stories for the school library….

So what else happened?

Well, the dog was dirty dirty dirty. From all the blood. But then at the end he was happy dog, and washing. Not dirty. No blood.

I’m really confused. Could there possibly be a story like this that a teacher would choose to read to kindergarten?

…But at the end the dog was happy and they had a happy birthday and they played ball.

Ok, Maya’s just telling me a story now…

She looks at me, and at the computer, and she crawls into my lap and sets her nose a half inch from mine –

“I love Maggie and Libby and Lisa and Karen and Giselle and Jake and Nina and Suzy and Anthony and Lexie. You write!”

All’s well that ends well.

Here’s to a little crazy and a whole lot of heart.

Maya

Friday Fun-day!

Fridays always end up being filled with excitement and good news.

First and most importantly, Saurab had his operation last Sunday and he is doing splendidly! He came to the house with his grandmother today after lunch and had a nice new full cast on his arm. I took him on a quick tour of the school so he could see the progress that has been made in his absence, and then he came back to the house and we played with a balloon while his grandmother chatted with the grown-ups.

He will be back at school on Monday. I am so happy to see that he is doing well and on his way to a full recovery. I swear he’s actually grown a centimeter or two since I last saw him.

And then….

We had an art-fest at the school today – and it was insane. As much as I like to plan and organize things, today I pretty much failed. We were doing papier mache in 2 – 6th class, making paper turtles in KG and 1st, and doing thumbprint art in nursery. We ran out of newspaper, containers for glue and water, bowls, scissors, and, since this was the first time the teachers have really ever done anything like this, it was chaos. I was so busy running from room to room trying to resupply things that I didn’t take a single picture. Kelly said she got some though so I will post some of hers soon hopefully. Between the two of us we usually cover the “events” here pretty thoroughly.

5 and 6 class made pencil troughs for the desks, so that their pencils and pens don’t keep falling which causes distraction and disruption in class. 2, 3, and 4 class made bowls/containers for us to use in the classrooms (a great way to save money on supplies, recycle, and be creative right?). KG and 1st made turtles out of these cool bowls that are made out of leaves (street vendors use them to serve a hot corn mash called chaat – delicious!), and Nursery had fun dipping their fingers in paint.

Once the dust had settled, the finished products looked good, and the kids had fun, which is what counts. Hopefully the teachers learned a little about what does and does not work when you are doing art projects. And we actually ended up with extra newspaper after sending the Amazing Tope to get more in the middle of the morning.

While we tried to get the art projects started in half the classes, Christina worked with the other half on some Hindi mantras and chants she learned while she was in Pokhara last week. The kids all sounded so awesome. They also worked a little on meditation and yoga, and really took to it. She actually left the room they were in to help Kelly and I, and when she came back, everyone was still quietly meditating. The kids are so excited to learn new things and do these “out of the box” activities that we really don’t have to fight for their cooperation or good behavior. They just want to be good and have fun!

Tomorrow we will make a trip to Bul Bule to play, bath, and wash laundry. We are also doing some deep cleaning at the house. Tonight, Frank is hosting movie night for the kids. He says we’re watching Ratatouille. Sweet!

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Summer Camp

It’s 4:15 a.m. on Sunday morning. I’m watching over a little village girl who is staying the night with us (more on that later) and thinking about all the things I’d like to write about here – but not sure where or how to begin.

Our original Saturday plan was to take a trip to BulBule to play and wash, but the skies looked ominously full of rain clouds all morning, and with no car/scooter (I don’t feel confident enough yet to ride with kids on the bike) I didn’t want to risk everyone getting drenched/cold/sick, etc. So instead, we busted out the embroidery thread!

With Maggie away we’re in summer camp mode anyway, so why not try out the time honored tradition of making friendship bracelets?

With a book of designs from Maggie’s cousin, Kelly got everyone started.

The boys were really keen on the project…

Others were just hanging out where the cool people were…

Frank got in on the action with an “advanced” lanyard design.

While I was snapping away I caught Shanti and Santosh having a serious discussion under a table. Kind of Shanti talking and Santosh trying to look like he’s listening…

I love how he looks like he’s reading a newspaper the whole time.

We should have known the day was going a little too well. When we adults finally pried ourselves away from the string festival upstairs with the intention of going to the market to buy fruit for the kids, we were greeted by a little village girl with a gash on her head. Apparently she fell on a rock while playing. So Frank made a detour to get supplies for stitches, since it was now late Saturday afternoon and we knew we wouldn’t be able to find a doctor.

Unfortunately the only suture needle the pharmacy had was WAY too big, and this little girl was WAY too frightened (the kids are all pretty afraid of the clinic, they’ve never been to a doctor before and they have no idea what to expect) so we had to butterfly the wound closed and this morning (just a few hours from now actually) we will take her into town to get it properly closed up.

Her mother said it would take them an hour to walk home, and her little girl had already fallen asleep on my lap, so she slept over last night. I think part of the reason I haven’t slept very well is my worry that she’ll wake up scared, or wet the bed, or bump her head against the wall, or fall on the floor, etc…

In closing, check out our new and improved side yard! Maggie bought lots of new fruit trees and our turkeys are loving their new digs. These pictures are from just a couple of days ago, and already the guys have added a brick footpath that links our new kitchen with the main house. Now if we can just keep the goat away from the new plants!

Have a great Sunday world!

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The Play’s the Thing!

After being open for just over one month, Kopila Valley Primary School had its first fine arts performance yesterday! It was a huge success. 3rd grade sang “In the Jungle”, 4th grade narrated the event through a puppet show, 5th and 6th danced, and we even had some poetry readings from individual students. Parents, cousins, aunts, uncles, neighbors, and friends came to support our students as they shared their knowledge and talent with the community.

Here are some pictorial highlights…


In other news, my ninja like ability to sneak up on children committing naughty offenses such as spitting over third story balconies and dredgingnalis (open air sewage drainage ditches) for non-existant fish (as if existent fish would be a good reason to jump in a sewer) has been compromised by what I maintain is some Nepali-lite version of pertussis. It’s harder to catch kids red handed when your approach is preceded by a rhythmic whooping which has to sound something like a bobcat hacking up a habanero tainted hair ball from the deepest recesses of its lower intestine.

In other words, I have a bad cough.

I also have a big success story to share regarding my after school reading class. Watch out, because my vestigial “Teacher Lisa” half is about to emerge…. Today my students, who 3 weeks ago knew no more about reading than the name of the letters of the alphabet, today sounded a word for me that contained not one, not two, but three sounds! If you’re a reading teacher you know this is a big deal. Blending phonemes is tough, and in a second language full of sounds that don’t exist in your native language it’s even more difficult. As they pronounced each sound I wrote it on the board, and had to take a second before turning around to congratulate them, because I just couldn’t believe that I was witnessing this lightbulb moment. My emotions were getting the better of me. These students are learning to read and they will take this skill with them forever. It’s profound and humbling to be a part of such an arrival of self sufficiency and import. These amazing kids also answered comprehension questions which I translated into Nepali!

I can say things like, “Is /c/ a sound or a letter name?” And, “Which sound is this vowel saying?” Everyday I can pick out more words as Maggie speaks with the kids, although all my native Nepali aunties and uncles speak too quickly and with too much of an accent for me to catch much. Whenever I try to string together a Nepali sentence or two they laugh, but I am not sure if it is out of delight at my effort, or derision at my butchery.

That’s it from this side of the world today. Make the best of your time because you can’t take it with you!



Photo by Karen Watson

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I am a bad blogger

I’m sorry it’s been something like 2 or 3 weeks since I last posted. We have been working so hard everyday at school and it just seems like there is always something important to do!

But this afternoon we have the winning combination of a political strike, electricity, internet connectivity, and a little quiet!

Monsoon is coming so it’s cool outside and there’s a nice strong breeze blowing through my bedroom window. We’ve been resting and working on a few small projects around the house – organizing closets, hanging kids’ artwork in classrooms, and cleaning up the side yard for planting now that the rains are coming.

Everyday at the school brings more success. The teachers are working hard to learn new teaching methods. The kids are blown over by everything we bring to class. Karen (who just left us yesterday – I was a mess – she is a fantastic ESL teacher and I don;t know what I would have done if she hadn’t been here) brought a homemade “Lingo” game board to Chetana’s first grade class to help them learn time and they ask for it everyday now. I laminated some copy paper to make mini-whiteboards and left a rock star. The enthusiasm and wonder that these students bring to class each day is what puts a fire under my behind morning, noon, and night.

Hannah, Maggie’s best friend, arrived about a week ago. She and I are starting remedial literacy tutoring in the mornings for the kids that need a lot of extra help. I can’t wait to see all of them reading children’s literature and writing their own simple sentences a month and a half from now!

I have tons of pictures to post, and since I’ve gotten so behind in relaying the day’s events here, I’m going to share the goings on with a little thing we like to call the photo-montage! Don’t roll your eyes, every blog has one.

Picture Pages, Picture Pages

More Pictures!

Technical issues resolved. Much love to everyone. Things are great here. Mom sent me a link to an AWESOME website where I can get materials to assess all the kids before school starts in a couple of weeks.

Picture!

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