On Sunday I was invited (begged) to attend an annual Picnic that the teachers put on for the students. This was an all day event, beginning at 10am, where the children pitch in as much money as they can, rent a bus and choose a local camp ground to have their picnic. I really had no expectations as to what would happen, because I have learned not to expect that a Nepali picnic will be anything like a North American picnic. As it turns out they are similar, except for the Hot Dog part!
I am so glad I went to this event because the children were beyond excited that a. I was attending with a camera, and b. they had a day off school and a school bus to pick them up and drop them off. Imadol (where the children and school are located) is in the country part of Kathmandu where there are fields and farms. I know that all of the children live within walking distance of the school and that they, for the most part, live on farms. The excitement that was caused by a bus just for them is indescribable. Actually the best way to describe it is to say that they had a mini dance party while screaming and singing the entire way to our destination.
Once we arrived at the picnic site, the teachers unpacked the cooking supplies, of which there were many, with food and snacks. The children unpacked themselves and as quickly as possible began running free of the bus and teachers to surrounding area. I wandered around, with a couple of cute friends, and watched as the children explored. The way I felt that day, seeing them galavanting around the picnic site, laughing, singing and being generally happy made me excessively happy. After having spent a couple weeks with the children I have come to know their daily difficulties, lack of food, lack of clean clothes, and lack of school supplies. Lets just say that these kids do not have the easy life. However, once a year the kids gear up and prepare themselves for utter excitement and joy, it is something they look forward to year round, and to us it is so simple. I can't even think of how many times I took Cam, Ben or Griff (Hanson Bros) to the park to have a mini picnic, and yes they were happy, but I am sure they didn't think about it for a year in advance. I am not suggesting that children in Canada are ungrateful of a visit to the park, but I am suggesting, as a comparison, that the children in Nepal were so happy and excited to do something we think of as normal.
After what seemed like forever, we all sat down to a traditional Nepali meal, of rice, chicken curry, potatoes, and a green stew. It was all delicious and the teachers had spent many hours preparing for this grand meal. The children were quieter than I had ever seen them eating contently, something which would not occur very frequently for them. After the meal I brought out a huge bag of candies and handed one to each, their eyes lit up at the sight of this huge bag, and, since it was recently Halloween, I tried to explain our tradition of going trick-or-treating, the concept was slightly beyond them (understandably). Another hour or two went by as we were singing and dancing in a circle, they all laughed when I started to dance like I was Nepali.
I feel as though, going to the picnic and experiencing their excitement and joy has made me want to spend more time in their world to bring me closer to my students.
(Pictures: Three of the Teachers making the feast, a little girl (about 6) on the bus, and two boys at the school, first boy and little girl are siblings)