Sunday, September 19, 2010

Victorious English School

I recently traveled on roads literally cut out of the mountains with no visible shoulders
to where the apples grow
and the insects are large and plentiful...

where traffic jams look like this (future shawls and sweaters)

to visit a tiny new school in a very remote and rural area in the Himalayas.
The school opened in February with only two students, and currently has 22 students ages 3 to 7. The school consists of two classrooms, one sharing office space for the principal/teacher. If the weather is good, the students move their chairs outside for class. Until recently, they only had rented chairs, but thanks to a donation, they constructed some some small tables. It is an English medium school, but most instruction is in Hindi, as the students are only just learning English. All of their books, except for their Hindi language book, are in English. I was invited to help the teachers with teaching methods. The teachers have "beautiful feet," but little experience or training in teaching. The school gives them opportunities to share His love with the community as well as the teachers, students and their families, to provide area students with an education in English, and to have means to stay in the area. Before they opened the school, "Bill" and "Rae" were just seen as Christians -someone to be avoided in this syncretized animist/Hindu/Buddhist area. The local beliefs are a mix of the three. The taxi which picks up the school children has a photo of a Buddhist lama hanging from the mirror, as well as a statue of a Hindu god, Ganesh, on the dash. Apples came to this area in 1904 with an American who was struck by the poverty of the area. There were apple trees, but the fruit was sour. Samuel Stokes smuggled apple grafts from America. Now, the people of this remote area can make a living from the apples. Biting into the dar red skin, one can taste the fresh air and water when crunching and chewing the white flesh of the fruit. Apple season is such a busy time in this area, as the people have their day jobs, as well as the orchards to tend to. Donkeys and Nepali laborers help transport the apple boxes to the trucks. The colorful apple trucks cause ruts in the rain-soaked roads, and traffic jams into the larger cities. As a gift for teaching, I got to hike up the mountain (for thirty minutes) and choose my own apples! On the way down I dreamed of apple pies, apple cinnamon muffins, apple sauce, apple butter, apple turnovers, apple salad, and apple slices with peanut butter!
In the next post, I will share details and photos of the school and its precious students and faculty.

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