Nepal Week 2: Challenges and Solutions

Week 2 of the Debate Mate Nepal programme was spent in the beautiful lakeside city of Pokhara, about seven hours west of Kathmandu. The journey was a bumpy one, but the same could not be said for the teaching week, which ran very smoothly! Reaching 200+ students per day across four groups, our second teaching week promised to be as successful as the first.

The school in Pokhara was, like Pokhara itself, very scenic – surrounded by beautiful green hills and, on a clear day, snow-capped mountains. 

The students were incredibly lively, which initially posed a challenge as this was a completely different scenario to the students of Kathmandu. However, as the first day went on, it became evident that this liveliness was simply enthusiasm, which we as mentors were able to embrace fully in order to ensure participation in the activities. One topic which the students were particularly excited about was arguing about the motion ‘This House Believes Pokhara is Better Than Kathmandu.’, which bodes well for the final competition…

The temperature in Pokhara was far higher than in Kathmandu, which was difficult at times because we were reluctant to ask students to do activities outside in the heat. However, this was a nicer problem to face than the monsoon rains, as our voices were more easily heard in the classrooms!

Overall, the teaching in Pokhara was a lot of fun. One highlight was when Mia suggested incorporating emotions into the very lively ‘Zah’ game. In this activity, the students had to pretend to pass a hot ball of energy around a circle using different emotions, including fear, sadness and happiness. The aim is to encourage them to use emotions in their speeches, but the game didn’t last very long, as soon all the students (and mentors) were crying with laughter.

After some incredibly impressive last-day performances from the students, and a close fought final, the competition was over, and with it week two. We were all sad to leave the beautiful Pokhara behind (especially Chris, as it was the location in which he achieved inner peace), but we were all excited for – what turned out to be a 12-hour – coach journey to the UNESCO World Heritage Site of Bhaktapur, and teaching week three!

— Iona and Mohsin