Sascha's Experience in Baglung: "It's Real. And it's Amazing."

Baglung itself is a 10-12 hour bus ride into the mountains, but the Jaidi District is another two-hour hike from the Polybus in Baglung. I was able to see so much of Nepal just from the window of the polybus. It passes through Pokhara, rides past the tallest bridge in the world, and speeds through rice fields and forests. Once the bus starts to ascend into the mountains, it can get bumpy and slightly dangerous. I just shut my eyes and hoped for the best, and before I knew it I was in Baglung. Because of the long bus ride, we stayed at a lodge in the small town and started our hike early the next morning. Just so you know, the view while your hiking is not a dream. It’s real. And it’s amazing.

My host family was great. A grandmother- Aama, a mother- Mina Sharma or Didi, a father- Rudra Sharma or Sir, and a daughter- Prashamsha Sharma or bahini. We stayed in this little concrete/mud house right on the side of the mountain. I had my own room upstairs, which was a luxury I did not expect. The food was the same for breakfast and dinner, dal bhat, curry, and buffalo milk (yum), but I did not get sick of it. Also, the water is clean there. You can drink right from the wells and its safe! They had a buffalo and a cow plus fields of corn and rice. Didi and Sir were constantly working in the fields or cutting grass for their buffalo. I tried to help a lot. If it is too hard, just let them know, but I would suggest trying and immersing yourself. It won’t kill you!  Also, just a heads up, there is a lot of violent affection out in the rural areas. Make it obvious that you don’t like to be pinched or squeezed.

The walk from the house to the school was about 15 minuets. It seems slightly dangerous, but just watch your step. The view while your walking is picturesque, so make sure you stop to take it all in! I taught 4 classes of English each day, grades 2-5. The school is tiny, very few students, but then again there are few families. Children attend one of two primary schools within a couple miles radius. At this school, there are only 7 staff. All of them are nice and eager to learn about my life in The United States. I was the first volunteer to ever go to this town. I feel that I made more of a cultural impact than an impact as a teacher. I followed the syllabus to teach, but it was hard to communicate the lesson with the younger kids, just try your best. They were more interested in touching my hair or making fun of my accent. Anyways, the syllabus was extremely vague and simple. I always tried to extend the lesson into something fun, or continuous so that they would remember. I brought books, but make sure they’re easy. I also recommend learning games or playtime rhymes to sing with the kids. Being at a primary school, the kids are not very advanced, so don’t worry about not being fully prepared. If you know your ABC’s, 123’s you’ll be fine.

There is absolutely no internet access. I recommend bringing a Nepali phone if you need to keep in contact with someone. Also bring a dictionary if you do not have a translator. You will learn a significant amount of Nepali, but I regretted not having a dictionary for extra help. You need to bring your own toilet paper. My host family didn’t use it themselves, so bring some for yourself. Showering was very difficult for me. I showered maybe twice a week. There are outdoor spouts of water and it is very out in the open. Your host family will lend you a cloth to wrap around yourself as you shower, but be prepared to feel slightly uncomfortable your first time. The families there are extremely friendly. Make sure to smile as much as you can and involve yourself in everyday activities and celebrations. Sometimes the women gather together at night to dance and sing. I joined in to dance and I immediately became something other than a foreigner. I was a friend. I highly recommend this placement. I learned more from these people than I could ever teach. It was a fantastic experience.