I thought very hard about what I would say to my small class of six children on the day when I was to meet them for the first time at Nepal Friendship Society’s Bharatpur Learning Center. I will start by introducing myself, of course, I thought. After that, I can ask their names and … maybe what they like to do in their spare time … Then I told myself, frustrated slightly, I won’t make a good teacher. In fact, I had spent so much time concentrating on what to say that the first thing I did as I entered the Learning Center was sit down with the rest of the children.
Jumping up and remembering that it was proper to stand at the board, I realized that just a few months before, I myself had been a student who sat and watched the teacher just as six pairs of eyes were watching me. That was when I decided to stop pretending to be someone I was not (a teacher) and simply be someone I wanted to be—an older friend to Alisha, Bipin, Dipen, Pratima, Rajib, and Sujan.
Yes, now I can say for sure that this strategy has been working out excellently for me. Although I come to the Learning Center on Mondays and Tuesdays to spend time with my six new friends and help them learn something outside of school, I have also learned quite a lot from them. Thanks to Nepal Friendship Society, I now have an opportunity to interact with fifth- and sixth-graders who are ready to wake up before sunrise in the cold months of winter and ride their bikes or walk to the Learning Center because they are eager to work harder in order to succeed in the future.
After only a few classes, I have observed that each of them has a strong and distinct character: Alisha is a quick learner; if her friends find something difficult to understand, she is always ready to explain it to them. Bipin is a deep thinker. Dipen is a little comedian. Pratima might be shy at first, but she is very friendly and considerate. Rajib is reserved, but that does not stop one from seeing that he is an eager artist. Sujan is very gentlemanly.
I am looking forward to exploring their passions with them and helping them realize that they can become whoever they want to become. We watched Ratatouille, an animated Disney/Pixar movie about a rat called Remy who, despite all odds, becomes a chef, and the core message of this film is nothing but inspiring: “You must not let anyone define your limits because of where you come from.” My aim now is to do everything I can to make the meaning of this sentence clear to Alisha, Bipin, Dipen, Pratima, Rajib, and Sujan. At the same time, I hope that Nepal Friendship Society continues its exemplary work and helps as many other children as possible to see—and reach—beyond any and all obstacles they may come across.
--Angela Sharma, Volunteer