Changing Lives in Nepal
January 30, 2020
The Green Lion
My Nepali Experience
By Leticia Farnezes Figueiredo from Brazil
I’ve been passionate about traveling and getting to know different cultures for more than ten years. Growing up, I realized that helping people is one of the most incredible opportunities in life. Some years ago I set a goal: I want to be a volunteer abroad. After searching about countries and organizations, I chose to be a join a program at The Green Lion Nepal in Kathmandu.
I arrived some days before the beginning of the program not to feel so jet-lagged when the program started, and my first impressions of Nepal were great: delicious food, hospitable people and a very different culture from mine. On my first weekend in Kathmandu, I did a mountain flight and saw the breathtaking Himalayas.
I arrived at The Green Lion on a Sunday afternoon and made friends right away. Friends who also came from different countries made it also possible to exchange lifetime experiences. I chose to be in a shared room to interact with these new friends from China, Australia and the Netherlands, which turned out to be wonderful.
I decided to spend my first week on the Cultural Program to visit the sights, live the culture closely and understand it better. Three friends and I were responsible for being the guides at the Monkey Temple, which was named by tourists who couldn’t pronounce its Nepali name which I could pronounce at the presentation and was very proud; Nepali is a bit difficult.
We also visited Thamel, an old market and had to buy some spices and bargain, and Kirtipur and its temples. All the tours were guided by coordinators from The Green Lion and this made our experience even better not only because they speak the local language but also because they would talk to us about the culture and historical facts. On the Culture Week, we also had a lovely cooking class – we made lunch for almost thirty people who were staying here. We had fun and the food was delicious! We prepared a type of bread that is fried and served with potato curry. YUM!
All participants had three meals at the accommodation: breakfast, lunch and dinner. They were well prepared and every day we ate a different dish in all meals. They were a combination of Nepali food with more traditional dishes. On weekends, we only had breakfast and dinner which allowed us to be out exploring the city all day long.
I love animals and on my second weekend here, I visited Chitwan National Park and it was amazing! I saw baby elephants, many deer, birds and crocodiles.
I have been a teacher for eight years now and the Education Program was just perfect for me! I was a teacher at the kindergarten for five unforgettable days. It’s hard to put on words all I felt during this week. I could interact with kids, teach them and play with them. The coordinators helped other participants and me with the content of the classes and provided materials we used with the students, for example, notebooks, pencils, markers, and toys.
I brought some materials of my own to use in the classes and the students loved them. I brought two storybooks about animals and stuffed animals that illustrate both stories. These stuffed animals were given to The Green Lion as a present from Isa, the Brazilian woman who makes them. I believe children must play and sing at all times, therefore I tried to bring playing to the lessons so learning could be effective. The results were what I really expected: they learned and had fun!
It is said that The Green Lion changes lives and I couldn’t agree more. We can be a participant and contribute to the children’s lives, and by teaching them, our lives also change – a lot. I’m very grateful to have lived this experience and can say that all my expectations were achieved. Thank you!