Grade 9 students Mary, Sandhya, Muskan, and Kailashi, with Waro’s (our writing teacher) mentorship, led a workshop on the re-use of plastic bottles and other non-biodegradable materials. The resulting plastic bottle planters are now hanging on the walls of the Chelsea Center. The team started the workshop by sharing some facts on how plastic bottles are polluting our environment, followed by the confession that they would use the least amount of plastic and do the best re-use possible. The 70 teachers and students who participated were divided into eight groups and each group made a flower vessel out of a used plastic bottle. The presenters did a phenomenal job on their presentation day.
Teej is one of the most important festivals for Nepalese women. It is a festival of dance: all the women wear red dresses, come to a single platform, and dance. After 9 weeks of preparation, the Chelsea Center celebration focused on empowering the life skills of our women students. We organized a special program with public speaking, poem recitations, dance performances, and a Mrs. Teej Chelsea talent show.
Twenty-two year old Rohit Malla is young leader and a professional motivational speaker. He led his first motivational talk at the Chelsea Center on January 14th during the Winter Camp and the students who could not attend his talk then had been requesting to invite him again. His words and the humor-filled stories touched the hearts of the 50 students and 10 teachers who participated.
Some of our kids were “guest teacher assistants” in the women’s classes. Different activities were designed to establish a connection between the community women and the Papa’s House kids at the Chelsea Center. Some of the kids used to say they could never teach the way others do, and here they are helping the women, consoling them to not worry a lot, observing their challenges, and trying to explain the ideas in easier language. At the end of the class they shared their experience and observations; kids and women had learned a lot!
Using breathing techniques as the tool of all the practices, Laurie Levine led a program on yoga, pranayama, and meditation for the women at the Chelsea Center. Laurie is a yoga practitioner and teacher. The science of yoga has important value in Nepali society and seventy women participated in the program. At the end of the session, the participant women requested that Laurie lead more yoga classes when she comes back to Nepal.
Teachers and students celebrated this special day in a traditional Nepali way very close to all our hearts: the Papa’s House students organized and led a surprise program of activities and performances for their teachers. Though they call it Teachers Day, it is celebrated like Children’s Day, making their teachers dance, act and sing. They made us feel proud of the students we teach!
The museum, the Golden Temple, the Krishna Mandir (Krishna Temple), the Dhunge Dharas (the stone taps) and the fascinating small details of handmade arts and crafts made the tour of Patan's Durbar Square special. Ted Seymour and Laurie Levine organized the visit, initially inviting students interested in photography. As is turned out, seventy-one students signed up, which is the total number of students below grade ten. The photo lesson tour became the photo session tour--though only two of the resulting photos are shown here. The tour was organized after the end of the First Term Exam at the school and was a joyful experience for all of us.
The afternoon teachers participated in a workshop led by Ted, Laura, Justin, and Blanca for the higher grades of Papa’s House students (see July 13 event). Like any good teacher, whenever we learn something we want to share it with our own students, so these teachers led a sharing workshop for the women students on “Personality and Character.” The session started with basic questioning and discussion about the idea of personality and character and ended with the assignment of understanding the personality and character of each member of one’s own family.
On July 13, Ted, Laura, Justin, and Blanca organized an event for the grade ten and higher Papa’s House students. There were four different activities running simultaneously in different classrooms at the Chelsea Center: Ted led a workshop on “How to Start Your Own Business” in the first session and “Finding Your True Job” in the second. Laura dedicated her workshop entitled, “Choosing your Character,” to leadership wisdom. Justin led a workshop on “Budgeting your Dollar” a subject of very high need for the Nepalese students since no one here teaches any lessons like this and we really struggle with managing our budget. The workshop led by Blanca entitled “Fun with Confidence,” was full of activity, role-playing, and fun. These multiple and simultaneous sessions became a beautiful reason to bring all of the older Papa’s House kids together under the same roof. Oh, and did we mention that there was pizza?!
The daytime English teachers and the students were very excited about the arrival of our long-time volunteers Shaily and Saurya and the re-start of conversation classes for the women. Every year the two of them volunteer at the Chelsea Center when they come to Nepal during their vacation from school in the U.S. This year they led six conversation classes in only two weeks (June 15 to June 30)! The women were very happy to see Shaily and Saurya again and on the last day of the class, told them, “We will speak better English when you will come back to Chelsea Center next year!”
The best part about working with the kids is that you get to observe “Everything fascinates them like nothing else,” and if you are open, you realize you are getting back in touch with the child inside of you as well.
Information Technology(IT) professionals, Rahul Bajracharya and Pritishma Tuladhar came to the Center on June 22, and led a question and answer session about their field. Previously, Pritisma tutored our younger students for a year and Rahul was a computer tutor for our upper grade students for two years. The session was a surprise we prepared for the students because we knew they would love it. When the students realized that Rahul and Pritisma would arrive in the workshop hall within a minute, they began a countdown like it was the New Year's Eve they were waiting their whole life for.
The students asked a lot of questions about Rahul and Pritishma's personal and professional lives. The benefits of this interaction can be observed since some of our students already interested in IT decided they will study B. IT after studying management in the intermediate level, and others have started analyzing the options in order to make a choice between B. IT and BSc. CSIT studies in the future.
A completely new and one of the most awaited experiences for the students was the opportunity to interact with professionals in many fields on June 16. The best part of the event was that the students got an opportunity to interview someone in the profession of their choice. How could the excitement not be at the peak when you are going to meet someone who can respond to all the queries inside your heart, and you have prepared a lot of questions for them? A heartfelt thankfulness to all our volunteers who serve us in every possible way and on so many different levels.
Live music is very popular in Nepal these days. Since we are constantly introducing new type of activities, workshops, and events on Fridays, we organized the first "Musical Friday" at the Chelsea Center. "Mriduta" was the voice for the evening, meaning someone who has a melodious voice.
With the theme “Things Can Always Get Better,” this Friday was a reflection day for the daytime classes. Starting with the question, “How to make the learning process more effective?” we divided the participants into five discussion groups. We provided them with paper and pen, and they had to write about their experiences in class in three different categories. In the first category they had to include things that they are enjoying the most in their classes, second being the difficulties/challenges in learning and after group discussion, they had to write possible solutions in the third category.
Our students are very interested in creative writing. There has been a lot of growth in their writing skills since the first edition of the Papa’s House Magazine, during the Australian Summer Camp, the Local Summer Camp, in all the activities with Carola, and then the second edition of the Magazine. On June 8, Waro Basnet, a content writer for The Himalayan Times, led an orientation session as an introduction to creative writing classes. He shared three stories of his life, connecting to his journey as a content writer in the leading newspaper of our nation. All the students and teachers who attended felt inspired to action. Waro will volunteer at the Chelsea Center for the next year starting from June 10, 2018, and will lead creative writing classes for the students from grade 6 to 10. The students are most excited to learn with him.
Papa’s House students are learning managerial and other life skills at a younger age than most Nepalese youth. The brothers at Papa’s House planned, prepared, and performed on Sisters’ Day, under the leadership of Ashok. They made the day special for all the sisters. The meal prepared by the chef team of the brothers training in Hotel Management was delicious. The funny dance and the drama added laughter to the program. Games and activities made the program interactive. Ashok shared his childhood memories of the brothers at Papa’s House, touching all the hearts of everyone listening. What could be more joyful than watching all the Papa’s House youth, once again under the same roof and sharing the one story of different individuals?
"She is just sixteen years old and is doing so many wonderful things; I too want to do something like that," said Muskan, one of our Papa’s House grade 9 students after attending the Public Speaking workshop led by Trinayana. The experience was similar for all of us who attended the workshop, including the teachers. Trinayana is an Intermediate (10+2) level student who, starting at the age of thirteen, runs a fundraising organisation called "Shuffle" in Kolkata, India. She has also been tutoring underprivileged children in public speaking and creative writing in her locality as well as certain regional charities in the city. Trinayana’s workshop was special in the sense that our students could see a reflection of themselves in her, and thus their own possibilities. "These students' receptivity is so unique and exceptional," said Trinayana’s mother who accompanied Trinayana for the workshop at the Center.
"The Chelsea Center is the place where we speak up, where we can express without fear, a place where we learn," said the women during the sharing session of the workshop entitled “The Leader Within” led by Jashima Thapa and Team Chelsea. The individual testimonies of the women after each program empower all of us to provide even more opportunities for these eager learners. Jashmina herself reported, "It was fun and the women enjoyed participating in the activities. . .and from the beginning they were excited to learn."
Yoga, Pranayama, and Meditation is the most ancient science of Nepal. It is inseparable from the country’s culture, tradition, history, religion, and the way of life. On May 25th Prashanna Bista, Director of the Chelsea Center led an introductory session on Yoga, Pranayama, and Meditation for sixty women. Prashanna has been a practitioner of the science for the last five years and a trainer of "Jeevan Vigyan Pratishthan”—one of the leading socio-spiritual organizations in Nepal.
The session was an amalgam of theory and practice. After sharing the basic understanding of the science, he gave a forty-five minute tool to practice for twenty-one days. If the students complete this phase and find it helpful, Prashanna will share some advanced tools to exercise for 108 days.
Bringing the whole community under the same roof of the Chelsea Education and Community Center, we celebrated the diversity day. Nepal is rich in cultural diversity and on a day like this at the Center, one can see the diversity of the whole nation. With the experience of previous year’s celebration, the Team started preparing the event. There were twenty-seven groups—each group prepared their traditional food and dressed in their cultural costume.
‘Bhote’ community students from Eastern Nepal prepared their own food which was something new to the uniquely dressed ‘Doteli’ community students. The joy of sharing a part of their food with their teachers is something the students will never want to miss on this holiday. The students prepared the food at home and brought it to the center to share with others. Singing and dancing are the inseparable parts of all these celebrations at the Center.
More than just a place where students read, Chelsea Center has become a platform where we learn, share, express and celebrate.