Thursday, September 8, 2011

Week Five

 Emma with Nursery Reading Group

We welcomed Colette last week and she has been a tremendous help in class this week. Nima had to go to Kathmandu this week, so Bikram has provided classes to take while she is away. Initially a little overwhelmed by the sudden request, we all just got stuck into classes, with varying degrees of success! While we found that simple communication with the youngest classes was challenging, after some days with the same groups, we are developing visual commands to aid class management along with occasional input from teacher - Thank you Kumar and Tilak.

Emma and Colette teaching Nursery "The Animal Boogie-Woogie"

Emma Colette and Guy have been teaching classes, Nursery and Grades One and Three. Guy has introduced computing and typing with the Grade Three’s and it has been very successful, they were extremely excited to use the computers. The girls have been teaching and singing many songs in English, and had fun teaching English names for many animals. One favorite song is the “Animal Boogie Woogie”; we hope that it will be sung in years to come!

Grade Three - Computer Posters

We have been using the resources that we prepared, and they have been used to good effect in class. After discussing the resources with Nima, she thought that it would be good to have a set of A to Z cards for the nursery classes with the words that she usually teaches and then another set for grades 1 and 2 with new words.  So the local A to Z has changed a little and this will now be used in grades 1-3. We hope that the teachers will be able to use these resources to aid their English teaching; unfortunately the teachers have not seen these resources in use. But we have discussed their use with Nima and have brainstormed a list of potential activities and games for which the cards should be useful.

Some of the Laminated Learning Cards

Colette has also been gathering video footage of school life and certain classes. We hope to all work together on making a document to outline school life here with some photos and footage to go with it.


Guy and Sangay have been working hard to complete the library. They cleared out the library and laid the vinyl floor into the night. The library is now looking most inviting! 

Guy and Sangay - Floorlayers

Emma and Colette have worked extremely hard writing out all the library borrowing cards and we are now working on attaching them to all the books, along with organizing the books into their categories on the shelves. We are excited that there is now a new room to use, and hope Nima can begin to take her dance classes in there again shortly. And Vicky – Don’t panic, the playground is safely stacked in the store cupboard!

Fresh new Library


Although we never got round to running computing classes with teachers, Guy has passed on some knowledge to Tilak. He will be able to fix the remaining PCs when the power supplies arrive. Also, Tilak was very interested in setting up a website for the school. But as this takes time and requires purchasing of a web address, Guy advised that for now it would be better to set up a Blog spot for the school. Tilak made the page and should keep it updated with further school news:

So this is our final week in school. We will take the short trek to Everest Base Camp tomorrow and then head home. The three of us have rounded everything up - completed the library, finished resources, collected some videos of teaching for Sarah and helped the teachers with using them (such as the audiobooks). The computer suite is gaining popularity, and people from the town regularly come to use this amazing facility out of school hours. We hope to update this blog in the future, and that it will be a valuable resource for further volunteers to document the amazing work at this school.

We have very much enjoyed our time at the school, and leave knowing that we have helped to make school life at Shree Lukla more enjoyable and educational (particularly for the staff who have discovered Facebook)!

All the best, and feel free to contact us in future, Emma, Guy and Colette.

Class 3 Proudly Display Their Outdoor Artwork

Saturday, September 3, 2011

Week Four

Sunday through to Wednesday we spent in our painting gear singing Michael Jackson songs - the paint fumes clearly went to our heads! Emma was most embarrassed when one teacher; Kumar, caught her singing and wanted to hear more. The library is now looking fresh in a coat of brilliant white gloss and only requires a few touch ups.

Freshly painted Library

Looking forward to getting back into the classrooms on Thursday we realised that it was a school holiday and so set to work finishing some jobs in the computer room. Emma has almost cracked using the laminator, they are becoming better friends and some resources and displays are finally finished.

We were most excited to welcome Colette on Thursday. She is very lovely and we instantly knew that she would be a joy to work with. We spent most of the day introducing her to the school. Fortunately, Colette has no meaning in Nepali and so her introduction at the staff meeting was most civilized – more so than when Guy introduced himself “Mero naam Guy Ho” – everyone falls about laughing because Guy means “cow” in Nepali. We have spent a lot of time sharing ideas and discussing how our time will be best spent. Colette plans to be in Lukla for three weeks, is TEFL trained and would love to get involved with teaching and using the new resources in classes.

We are very pleased to have finished the library catalogue and now all books in the library (including those in Nepali) are listed in an EXCEL spreadsheet.  Colette brought with her the library cards from Kathmandu, so Colette and Emma set to work in the rainy evenings drinking coffee on our balcony and filling them in - which is completed!

Class 2 Students proudly display their drawings

So week five will be a busy one – our first plan is to each spend a day shadowing a teacher.  This will help us to get a good understanding of the structure of teaching here and will also provide a good basis for our project comparing teaching in Nepal to that in England. Colette has with her a video camera and so we hope to be able to gather some great footage of school life in action. Emma and Colette will be getting involved with the classes and using the resources that we have prepared, and Guy will begin painting the computer room this week.

 Nursery Girl enjoying her Classroom in the Clouds

Thursday, September 1, 2011

Week Three

Our third week at Shree Lukla School and the school routine returned to normal. It is lovely to be present for the morning assembly; all students, including the very young Nursery, lined up in Class and number order on the playground ready to sing, exercise (to music!) and then march off to lessons in the most perfectly organized fashion. We couldn’t believe our eyes on day one, a very different experience to that we have seen in English Primary schools.

Morning Assembly

We began to get more involved with lessons, being present for the first of Nima’s computing classes was extremely rewarding. The children were so excited to be back in the computer room and we were very happy that all computers made it through the day without powercuts!  Class 6 and 7 enjoyed creating their own Microsoft Word document and enjoyed changing fonts, colours and using pictures. Next week we hope to take a few classes with Nima and introduce the students to using PowerPoint. We were amazed by the computer theory knowledge of Class 4 students – having taken theory classes without using the computers before they picked up typing and using punctuation very fast.

Emma assists students on the computers

There has also been the continuation of our initial projects, which are mostly complete.  Our next task is to introduce the resources to teachers and demonstrate how they may be useful in class. Following a “Skype date” with Sarah we have new projects to be getting on with – watch this space for some interviews with Classroom in the Clouds sponsored teachers about their experiences.

After our day and a half weekend holiday (which involved an emergency mission to Namche to buy Emma some non-leaky boots!), on Sunday, with the weather getting dryer by the day we set to work painting the Library. Used to modern conveniences such as rollers, we went back to basics and learnt how to use a paint brush to paint an entire room! Although slower, it is very economical in terms of paint usage and we were surprised at how far a can went. We will be in our paint clothes for the next few days, planning to finish the library and then assess whether the computer suite is dry enough to paint.

This week we are also looking forward to having a new volunteer arriving in Lukla. We hope to be welcoming Colette on Thursday.

Emma and Guy undercoating the refurbished library (note the playground too!)

Monday, August 22, 2011

Week 2

During our second week at Shree Lukla School the exam period continued followed by two well deserved holiday days (for pupils) so teachers could mark the exam papers. They were extremely busy marking the exam papers over these two days. School begins as normal on Monday.

During this time we kept busy in the computer room. A summary of our week:

We have eight fully working computers. Three computers in the PC hospital are in a “computer coma”, their power supplies have blown and we will need new ones to revive them. When Guy took the CPU’s apart they were wet inside (likely the reason for the blown power supplies) resulting from the extremely damp room. As expected, we could not save one of the PC’s with a broken motherboard (Capacitor Buzz) and one monitor with no backlight. This CPU has been a donor for parts and we made a super teacher computer with double RAM, disc drives and a backup hard drive.

We now have four computers connected to the internet and networked to share the new colour printer.

In order to repair the comatose computers we will require three standard switching ATX size power supplies - 250 W min.

Dr Guy treats patients in the PC Hospital

 Wet CPU from the damp computer lab
We set to work this week recording some AudioBooks, it was lots of fun and we enjoyed laughing at each other getting nervous and failing to read the story fluently! We feel that this is a great project and that it will be most useful to the school. So far we have finished 11 books that we brought from with us from India – they are really nice as most are relevant to the local area. The books are on a CD and are also accessible as files on each of the computers. So far, we have only found one set of headphones and so more sets will be required to allow groups of children to use this facility at any one time. We hope to continue this project during our time here and will speak with teachers to find out which are the favorite or most useful books to record.

 Recording Audio Books

Continuing with the book theme, we are happy to help out with the new library. While painting is still on hold, Emma set to work logging all of the current books in an EXCEL spreadsheet that should help with getting the library catalogue/borrowing system up and running. She has also completed the computer room displays, the help documents and the local A to Z of Lukla. These are  not yet printed, as a trial print and lamination proved that the paper is too damp to laminate or print neatly...

This coming week we hope to increase our communication with the staff. We had a meeting with all the staff this morning, and a round of "Meero Nam Emma Ho, and with much amusement among the other teachers "Meero Nam Guy Ho". Yep, Guy means Cow in Nepalise. They have expressed an interest in building a school website for Tilak to maintain and keep up to date, and have offered computer classes for any staff. We will unveil the new computer lab to the staff, and help them with setting up personal folders along with printing and using Windows XP/Office.

During our two day weekend holiday, we took a walk to Namche. The weather was perfect and we had wonderful views of Mount Everest. We feel very privileged to be working and living in this beautiful part of the world.

 Weekend Views - Everest and Lhotse (centre)

Tuesday, August 16, 2011

Volunteer News

This is the new blogspot for information and progress updates about the ongoing projects supported by Classroom in the Clouds at Shree Lukla Primary School.  This blog has been set up by Emma and Guy while volunteering in Lukla.  We hope that it will be of interest and fun to read for all supporters of Classroom in the Clouds and everyone at Shree Lukla Primary School. If anyone has any comments or suggestions for future projects please leave a comment on this site.

Week 1 – Our arrival in Lukla

We arrived in Lukla and were greeted by clouds, rain and more rain – the monsoon is in full swing here.  But through the clouds we could just about see the spectacular mountains and glorious valleys and were very pleased to have the opportunity to be here.

Shree Lukla School

We quickly got to know some of teachers and went to visit the school.  Since our arrival in Lukla has coincided with student exams, our efforts have been concentrated on work in the computer room.  So we set to work tidying, de-moulding the room (unfortunately the monsoon season brings with it many problems with damp), cleaning up the computers.  After one week, one hundred power cuts and crazy uncontrollable power fluctuations (another consequence of all the rain!), we have nine happy computers.  Re-installed with Windows XP, Microsoft Office 2007 and looking neat and tidy.  We have set up one master computer, connected to the new printer/photocopy machine.  Guy also three computers in the “PC hospital”, diagnosis to follow.

Guy tidying computer suite

We see huge potential in the computer suite, the school is very lucky to have this facility.  Therefore we have some plans to increase its usage.  Creating step-by-step user friendly help manuals, making displays to help with basic computer terminology, and hopefully running some help sessions for anyone with an interest in computing (students, teachers and the local community).

Emma with some spectators at the PC hospital!

With functioning computers, Emma has set to work creating some resources for the school and is in the process of photographing local objects for an “A to Z of Lukla” resource, as suggested by Sarah.  The computer manual and displays for the computer room are also in progress.

On Thursday morning we received news that the playground equipment had arrived at Lukla airport.  After exams a weather-brave team of about twenty students commanded by Bikram, the head teacher, headed to the airport to collect the steel structures.  Our photographs tell the story, the rain was pouring and great teamwork and strength got the job done!  All pieces of the playground are now safely at school waiting for a coat of paint.

 Playground arrived at the airport, along with a great monsoon rain!

Construction is now complete in the new library, and it looks like it will be a great asset to the school.  We had plans to commence painting of the library and computer room this week, but due to the dampness the decision has been made to wait for a couple of weeks for things to dry out.
So overall we have had a happy welcoming to the school and a successful week.  We hope that next week, when teaching restarts, we will get more involved in school life and meet more of the teachers.

These boys carrying the slide were most courageous - Well Done