Project Namaste XII
Kalika Higher Secondary School
IN PARTNERSHIP WITH
Pokhara Chamber of Commerce & Industry (PCCI)
WHAT WE DID
For the twelfth edition of Project Namaste, we set foot back in the mountainous region of Nepal, with the mission of encouraging the Nepalese children to take ownership of their learning of English and to broaden their horizons outside their school curriculum.
As Singapore Management University’s (SMU) longest-running Overseas Community Service Project (OCSP), we were given a warm welcome by the students from Sree Kalika Higher Secondary School, our partner school for the next three years.
Since it was Project Namaste’s first time working with the school, we decided to take a more universal route in terms of crafting their educational content, to get a rough sensing of the students’ English level. Some of the educational content we decided on were topics like holidays, sports, music, agriculture, countries and occupations. These topics were chosen deliberately to help broaden the students’ horizons, as well as give them a better idea of what lies outside of Nepal. To encourage interactive learning, the education department worked tirelessly to produce a workbook for each student, filled with crossword puzzles, short comprehension passages and pictures alike to enhance the students’ learning of conversational and written English.
Education aside, we also worked on improving the infrastructure of the school, such as revamping their school library and painting their school compound in vibrant colours. This was all done in hopes to liven up the school, and to make it a more enjoyable place for the students to learn in.
In order to garner funds for the students in Nepal, we held a fundraising event in SMU where we sold items generously sponsored by local companies and individuals. Having said that, we would like to thank our sponsors who have very graciously supplied us with their items and products! With your help, we were able to raise quite a substantial amount, which was in turn used to purchase tables, chairs and educational materials for the Nepalese students.
After spending two fulfilling weeks in Kalika Higher Secondary School with the students, we left Nepal feeling assured that we’ve laid the necessary groundwork for the 13th edition of Project Namaste members to continue what we have started.
namaste group pic 3
Project Namaste XII
Chua Ding En
Project Namaste XII
Nepal has always been one of the Southeast Asia countries that I wanted to visit and being able to serve and do community service there really makes it even more meaningful and enjoyable for me.
The biggest takeaway for this trip was the authenticity and warmth I have received from the village and school. I can still remember vividly that on the first day, we were warmly welcomed by the school with flowers and bright smiles from the students.
Living in the hustle and bustle life of Singapore, often we can forget the simplicity in life and get so caught up with our work and never-ending prestige achievements. While I was there, I told myself to fully immerse myself with their culture, way of life, learn a few Nepali phrases so that I can communicate with them and forge some friendships that I will always keep close to my heart.
I went there with a mindset of giving knowledge but little did I know I received so much more from them. It was truly the experience that I would never forget and will be forever special in my heart.
Many things could only be experienced when we were in the process itself but allow me to humbly attempt to share (the most important thing to me on) what it feels like to be in Namaste XII through my own words.
Imagine yourself stepping into the school and beautifully welcomed by Nepalese children and teachers. Feel the cold air and warm sun touching your skin as you are showered with flowers and handshakes from both sides. For a moment, escape whatever thoughts you have and be at peace. It feels almost therapeutic.
Throughout the journey, we were constantly basked with love and kindness from their genuine hearts – a feeling you do not often receive in the modern world of fame and fortune today. And as the days go by, instead of emptying our own love jars, it felt like ours were refilled instead. Listening to the children’s simplest stories about mealtimes, adventures or books – we realize how fortunate we were and became more motivated to serve them in the short duration we had in Kalika Higher.
I believe that each and every person from the team of Namaste XII have been reminded, taught and understood what it is like to love the people around them. Separated from the luxuries and necessities of the city, we learn to love through the simplest of actions.
Project Namaste XII
Project Namaste Leader
My experience in Project Namaste as a leader has been a very different one compared to my experience as a member in 2016. As a leader, I was invariably involved in the “behind-the-scenes” planning and execution of the project. I saw how everything was coordinated from start to end, from the nitty gritty details to the big picture.
Through it all, my values and ideologies were constantly challenged. Why were we paying significant sums of money to travel to Nepal when we can donate this amount instead? Was this really an initiative borne out of altruism, or concealed selfishness that many are simply unconscious of?
In giving, we often receive more than we give. We receive lessons and experiences that no amount of money can buy, and this is why such projects are called service– learning projects, and not just one of service. This year, we went to a new school, Kalika higher Secondary School and while the project scope was slightly different, the people, the smiles and the hearts that were touched remain unchanged. In fact, that is my greatest takeaway throughout my Namaste journey (both as a member and a leader): The people. I’ve learnt so much from the Nepalis; they have taught me much more than I can ever teach them. I see myself returning to Nepal several years down the road, to visit the friends I have made and the people who welcome me as their own.
Despite the challenges, I wouldn’t have had this project any other way. Project Namaste was an invaluable opportunity for me to give back to the community, while at the same time putting myself out of my comfort zone to grow as an individual. This experience has enlightened my perspective of gratitude, contentment and privilege and it will always be a part of shaping who I want to be as a person.