Wednesday, September 25, 2013

Back Teaching In Nepal

“What are you going to do with that degree?” is the question that plagues almost any social science major. And to be honest, up until a few months ago, I wasn’t that sure what I was going to do with my Anthropology degree.

Midway through my Fulbright grant last year, I realized that Nepal was a place that I wanted to stay long term; from the people to the food to the mountains, I had fallen in love.

Finding a job here that provides one with a working visa is difficult to say the least.  About 1/3 of the population in Nepal relies on remittances, and because of that, the government protects local jobs and strickly limits the working and even volunteering visas provided. If you know someone who has volunteered in Nepal, it is almost certain that they did it on a tourist visa, which are only valid for 5 months a year.

I spent my remaining months in Nepal, putting my name out to people really just looking for a legitimate way to stay here.

Through some Fulbright connections, I was put into contact with Ullens School which is a private Nepali IB high school. I interviewed and gave them my resume but they weren’t sure what positions, if any, would be open in the next school year.

It wasn’t until months later when I was sitting with my uncle in a village in Gorkha, that my phone rang from an unknown number and I was asked, “Hi Vincent, do you still want the job?”

“Yes!” I stammered, “Who is this?”

Now I am the Social Cultural Anthropology teacher at Ullens.

If you had asked me upon graduation, I never would have thought that I was going to be anthro teacher!

On top of being a teacher, I get to combine two other of my passions. I am also an Academic Counselor, guiding thirty 12th graders with everything from their college selection process to the common app to the SAT. And I am a co-coordinator of the Creativity, Action, and Service program.  We direct students in a variety of service projects, organize sports teams (still pushing for swimming), and lead bi-monthly outdoor leadership programs, including some short treks and a Project Week where students live with a family in a rural village.

I am incredibly fortunate to combine those three passions into one job.

This blog will primarily be focused on adventures in the classroom (at least for the time being); although, I am itching to get outside of the valley for some trekking soon. The transition from rural government school to elite private school is stark. From chalkboards to smart boards.

Until I get myself a bicycle (surprise surprise, it is proving very difficult to come by a proper bike for someone who is 6ft tall in Nepal), I ride with my students in a van to school.  I gotta say that they could give some of my cousins a run for hipness.  Mornings our filled with songs from Of Monsters and Men (grandma google), Mumford and Sons, and Kendrick Lamar (grandma, don’t google).

Although my teaching uniform is a little less formal than last year's (seen above), I want everyone to know that I am still wearing the chacos.