Arrival in Kathmandu
The typical state of power lines in Kathmandu.

Arrival in Kathmandu

First impressions, and scheduling the first activity.

Thursday, August 3rd, was my first day at Shree Mangal Dvip Boarding School (SMD). After a good night’s sleep following 36 hours of travel, I was met at my guest-house by Tashi Choeden Lama, a recent graduate of Class 10 at SMD. As we walked to the school, Tashi explained that he has been independently learning and experimenting with electronics since a young age. Now that he is a senior student working as a director’s-assistant at SMD, he has been planning to organize electronics activities with the students. I had hoped to find someone like Tashi at the SMD, so things are off to a great start! I look forward to supporting him and working together to develop programming and electronics activities for the school.

SMD is much as I remember it from 7 years ago. The kids run, laugh, and glow with enthusiasm; they are motivated and articulate. The staff and senior students do a great job running the school, and their dedication shows in the health and happiness of the students. Many of the students are surprised to hear that I will be working at the school for as long as 10 months, and ask what I will be doing. I am delighted that students of various ages have expressed excitement when I explain that I will be running hands-on electronics and programming activities. I’ve also gotten useful insights from the senior students, most importantly that initiatives such as this tend to fade out after the founders leave the school. I hope we can address this issue right from the start by focusing on the following:

  • clear documentation of all activities
  • student ownership of the initiative
  • form of delivery (e.g. student club)
  • ongoing discussion with students on how to foster sustainability

There are a few good opportunities in the school schedule to run activities:

  • 1 hour free-time after classes each day
  • 2 hour blocks of free-time in the morning and afternoon on Saturdays
  • holidays (for longer events, such as workshops or competitions)

We will first try running 1 hour weekly activities during free-time on Saturdays, beginning this weekend. Sign-up sheets will be posted around the school, inviting students from Grade 4 to Grade 9 to participate (Grade 10 students are discouraged from attending activities, so they can focus on their exams). We intend to split the students into groups of ~10, combining Grades 4 to 6 and Grades 7 to 9, with a 1 hour time slot dedicated to each. In our first activity, we will introduce some important applications electricity in Nepalese communities, explain what electricity is, and illustrate the concept by having the students build and modify a simple LED light circuit.

Boudha Stupa.