Volunteering in Goljung


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June 20th 2009
Published: July 1st 2009EDIT THIS ENTRY

I was fortunate to find an affordable volunteer program in Nepal which I participated in for one month as an English teacher. I say "affordable" because in today's 'Brave New World' it's all business, and most programs' weekly prices are equivalent to an all-inclusive week vacation in the Caribbean. So much for "volunteering" in the traditional sense of the word.

Even though they had medical assignments, I decided to play teacher. Since I never did it before, it sounded like an interesting challenge. So, for four weeks I divided my time between a rural farming village lost to the recesses of time situated deep within the Himalayan Mts and a majestic monastery deep within the heart of the capital city of Kathmandu.

Goljung



A 12 hour bus ride, which gave me the most adrenaline packed day of my life (see pics below), transported me back in time a thousand years to this simple mountain village along the border of Tibet. Here the Tamang, the indigenous people of the region, grow corn, potatoes, berries, and varied grains. The nearest village is a 90 minute walk away, yes, there was electricity but only for a couple of hours
Singi and Jenma.Singi and Jenma.Singi and Jenma.

My host mother and father standing in the 'kitchen', a separate building from the main house where all the cooking and socializing was done.
a day, everything was cooked over an open fire, their drafty houses are build out of stone and wood, and during the snows of winter their only reliable source of heat is body heat.

Observing the Tamang in their day-to-day lives was a lot like watching master's of a survival school at work. Their days were filled with activities such as gathering/chopping wood, collecting water, gathering/storing food, planting crops, weaving baskets to store the food in, as well as, needed clothing and blankets and so on. That was their business, their profession... anticipating and surviving the harsh elements.

I was fortunate to have another volunteer participating during the same two weeks as myself, John, a genetic research scientist from NYC. We struggled well together through the challenges set before us. Between the hours of 7-9am and 4-6pm we ran the 'library', our program funded building set up to teach and entertain the kids before and after school. Also, from the hours of 10-130pm we both taught classes in the local school where, incidentally, the school's two English teachers barely spoke English themselves!

We lived with a host family who took good care of us and addressed any
The 12 Hour Bus Ride.The 12 Hour Bus Ride.The 12 Hour Bus Ride.

A view from the roof, where I sat for 9 of those 12 hours experiencing 'God's Air-Con'. Here you can see a good example of the pristine all-natural Nepali roadways.
concerns we had, that is, when there wasn't a language barrier issue... which there was... constantly. You see, even though John and I had a three day Nepali language and culture course, the Tamang don't speak it. It's rare for any rural community to speak Nepali, if at all, which, surprisingly, accounts for half the country's population, but TIN -- "This is Nepal." -- as many a Nepali would respond in explaining 'the way it is'.



Additional photos below
Photos: 40, Displayed: 23


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Drawing attention to our presence on day one. Drawing attention to our presence on day one.
Drawing attention to our presence on day one.

John and I decided to make our presence known to the village... John blew up balloons and taped them to the outside of the building, while I shouted across the valley, "THE LIBRARY IS NOW OPEN!". Though sitting outside reading out loud appeared most effective.
The Seat with the Million Dollar View.The Seat with the Million Dollar View.
The Seat with the Million Dollar View.

Looking down pass my dangling feet to the steep valley below riding sidesaddle on the roof of the extremely overcrowded bus. At any one time there were 2-3 dozen individuals on top of the bus.
 Inside the busy library. Inside the busy library.
Inside the busy library.

We would have anywhere from 10 - 30 kids at one time.
The School Building.The School Building.
The School Building.

Here I taught grades 2, 4, and 5.
Outstanding In Her Field.Outstanding In Her Field.
Outstanding In Her Field.

-- it's a little funny...
Teaching the locals my laundry dance.Teaching the locals my laundry dance.
Teaching the locals my laundry dance.

It was here at this watering hole that most of the village cleaned their dishes, did their laundry, and bathed themselves.
Duck, Duck, Goose! The kids favorite.Duck, Duck, Goose! The kids favorite.
Duck, Duck, Goose! The kids favorite.

But for John and I it meant running in circles constantly as we were their favorite targets.
"I hope it's right when you die, old and bony.""I hope it's right when you die, old and bony."
"I hope it's right when you die, old and bony."

--Lyrics by the Shins... defining this photo better than I ever could.
Proud Men and An Insecure Lad.Proud Men and An Insecure Lad.
Proud Men and An Insecure Lad.

Note the khukuri (traditional knife) blade handle protruding from the front man's tunic. Most men in the countryside carried these.
Youngins who made me nervous.Youngins who made me nervous.
Youngins who made me nervous.

I can't tell you how many times I plucked these kids off the 30 ft retaining wall located in front of the library. Damn kids! They could barely walk!
Hey! Who's the obnoxious American?!?Hey! Who's the obnoxious American?!?
Hey! Who's the obnoxious American?!?

-- Rallying the group for a photo.
An Unwanted Bunk Mate.An Unwanted Bunk Mate.
An Unwanted Bunk Mate.

As I went to lay down for a nap, I looked up to see this guy inverted on a beam above my bed.


2nd July 2009

WOW WOW WOW!
Some very scary photos there Ray, the bus view and the spider in particular. Following your travels is amazing, you are very good at this job!!! I'm very envious, Tibet has beckoned for a long time but didn't know about the spiders! Hope you're well, we're all fine. Busy winter pruning kiwis now, very tiring..... Cheery, Trudy
2nd July 2009

Wow
Great pics Raymond - you could sell them to National Geographic. Good luck in Mongolia!
2nd July 2009

wow
wow raymond havent checked up on you in a while, but i got the chills looking at your post- i think that its great that during your travels you are mentally unveiling the travesties of "globalization", and yet, are still connecting with the people who wont change regardless of the times :) *cheers* and good luck! *amanda - florence ;)
7th July 2009

"Outstanding"
Another great entry into you travel blog...keep 'em coming! We had a very funny folk fest joke pertaining to "outstanding in one's field", ok maybe it was the all the partying that made it so funny, but funny none the less!
15th June 2010

Wonderfull
My name is gelung lama.and i found your site fro google search engine.i knew that you had volunteered at goljing vdc.Thank u very much to helped them.so i want to keep in touch with you.i warmly inform you that my mother land is goljung.now i would like to ask some quition to you. have you make any plan for volunteer?
20th June 2010
Actual popcorn and a not-so-refreshing local drink called pajun.

I loved pictures,
It 's so wonderful to me to saw the Snap of the pajun village. actually i am from northwest of Nepal Place called Humla it remut area . I spent my most of time to India, I am working in a Monastery. They are some students from goljung village. In google web.One day i was woring in computer one of my student came to my room and i found goljung the boys said that it is our village. The boy is so happy to see the sanp of their village.... ....thanks for your Kindness
20th June 2010
Actual popcorn and a not-so-refreshing local drink called pajun.

I loved pictures,
It 's so wonderful to me to saw the Snap of the pajun village. actually i am from northwest of Nepal Place called Humla it remut area . I spent my most of time to India, I am working in a Monastery. They are some students from goljung village. In google web.One day i was woring in computer one of my student came to my room and i found goljung the boys said that it is our village. The boy is so happy to see the sanp of their village.... ....thanks for your Kindness
29th June 2010
"I hope it's right when you die, old and bony."

I want to go to Goljung. Can anybody tell me how to go there?
28th August 2010
The Seat with the Million Dollar View.

very nice
this is very nice photo.i want see this view very nearly will u tell me the way and expense.
14th May 2011

Great job
Wow wow wow !!!!!!!! wow its great job raymon.it is really nice job you done for goljung village and villagers.The person who don't know about the goljung they get a chance to know every things like cultural, village life of goljung peples .soooo lots of thanks from my side.

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