Nepal Week 1: Roses and Thorns

An amazing first week in Kathmandu!

After seeing the enthusiasm and dedication of the students in an assembly of morning aerobics and singing, we knew we were off to a good start. The week was full of huge highs and challenges to overcome. Teaching the Debate Mate curriculum in just three days was a huge contrast to the UK progamme, but the students’ willingness to learn and amazing energy blew us all away.

The teaching conditions were new to all of us. Known as the bamboo schools, the Samata School classroom walls were made of bamboo and decorated in different artistic ways. This was a challenge as the walls were thin and the inevitable rain made a loud addition to the teaching. However, the attentiveness of the students and an increase in volume saw us overcome this.


Another challenge was ensuring we communicated to our students with clarity, given the language differences. Their grasp of English was really impressive and we supported each other to make sure we spoke at a steady pace and everyone understood. We learnt a lot from them about topics they studied, discussing their opinions on arranged marriage, Nepal’s development and the abolition of the monarchy.

At the end of each teaching day we summed up our highs and lows (or roses and thorns). There were so few thorns – here are some of our favourite roses:

“Listening to two girls in my group doing rebuttal pairs was such a joy, they were confident and charismatic, using phrases like ‘I totally disagree’, very impressive!”

“My favourite moment was one of our students making a summary speech in the first debate and the whole room falling silent, she was lit from behind in the doorway, a really powerful moment”

“I went over to congratulate one of the students for making an excellent speech and including two PEELs, it was a lovely moment and she taught me a friendship handshake.”

“Hearing the students describe the issues facing Nepal from their viewpoint, and then hearing how they were going to grow up and fix them. One girl’s desire to eradicate discrimination and build houses for everyone in Nepal was really inspiring.”

“On the final teaching day, our students left us a lovely message on the board, thanking us for teaching them and saying they’d miss us. We felt so appreciated for all our hard work”

“I was so nervous at the beginning of the teaching week, but the students were so amazing that I feel so much more confident in my teaching now.”

“Seeing the students going from super shy to watching them in a full blown debate, in the final and debating better than any students I’ve ever taught.”

So, after a final competition filled with wonderful team chants, week one was a great success, bring on week two!

-Anuli and Chris