Cheers Marion, France
library camp , 04/02/2018 to 16/02/2018
In February 2018, I joined a 2 weeks library camp in Kavresthali, a small community in the north of Katmandu. The goal was to:
- Clean and maintain the library.
- Arrange the resources in the library and record them in proper order.
- Paint and decorate the library room.
- Conduct the session with children and teachers for the proper use of library.
- Organize different reading or writing activities with children in relation to use of library
I arrived in Katmandu on the 4th of February and I was welcomed by the VIN volunteer coordinator who brought me to a hotel in the city for the day. The induction program would be performed the following day with interesting sessions related to the culture, the language, the scope of the camp, etc. This was also a great opportunity to see VIN offices, discuss with other volunteers and get prepared for a great adventure. On the 5th, after this session, VIN library camp coordinator brought us to Kavresthali in our host family. This was an intense moment as we were discovering the whereabouts, where we would live for more than ten days, discuss with the family (who had two energetic and lovely kids 0 ) as well as discover the school in which we would work.
The school was located at a 45 minutes walking distance from the host family, which was for me a great opportunity to enjoy the landscape and the small Nepali sweets shops on our way to the camp.
For this camp, we were 3 international volunteers (2 from France, 1 from Poland) and 1 (then 2) Nepali volunteers. We discovered the school and the library room on Tuesday 6th. First, I was impressed by the number of books available, then I was surprised by the number of bookshelves and all the things stored in that room. It was as if it was used as a storage facility, with dust everywhere.
The first day was focused on painting the walls in order to bring some light and freshness to the room. After moving the bookshelves, the ‘stuff that were against the walls, after putting newspaper on the floor to protect it, we started our funny painting activity. Painting not only the walls but a little bit our hands and foots
From the second day, we cleaned the library, starting by removing all the books from the bookshelves, cleaning the furniture’s, removing the dust from the carpets, getting rid of the trash and making kind of an inventory of all the books. For the books, after cleaning and reviewing all of them, were classified by type (story in English, story in Nepali, study — math, English, Nepali, general knowledge, social studies, etc.). This part took us a lot of time and it was really interesting to compare the subjects with our own education system.
During this period, children and teachers were getting by, looking through the windows to see the library room, to witness the mess then the order. As part of the library, we also found some educational games and played with the youngest one.
Once the room was fully clean, cleared from any trash and fully empty, we were able to put in place the bookshelves back in a more optimal position, providing a big reading space for the children. We ‘only’ had to organize the room in a ‘logical’ order, which would help and ease the teachers in their day to day activity as well as allow the children to find easily the book they are searching for. The books on the bookshelves, we were able to work on the decoration, creating a map of the library,
Explaining where and how to find the books, putting in place name tags by topics, some slogans and finally decoration and the rules/tips on how to use the library.
Finally, the part I enjoyed the most, we visited each of the class from grade 5 to grade 10 in order to explain to the children what is a library, why it’s important, what does it bring to read and finally how to use the library. This was done in both Nepali and English. I shared my view, my experience, my love for books and I also (surprisingly) rediscovered why I loved so much reading. We also proposed that a ‘reading/library club’ could be created and some children showed their interests.
The last presentation and discussion was with the teachers, to whom we detailed the information provided to the children and shared our hope and wishes for the future.
We did not have time to launch some activities with the teachers and children in this brand new library. In order to do so, I would advise to discuss about it at the very beginning of the camp with the teachers, in order to align on the expectations and the how this could be organized.
Open a book and you open your mind.
The library camp was also a great opportunity to live with a Nepali’s family, discuss and discover cultural differences, enjoy the landscape, share laughing moments, taste new flavors and drink a wonderful black tea at sunset and sunrise!
On our free time, when we were not with the family sharing lovely moments, we were going (in bus or taxi) down to the valley to visit some of the great places around (some are part of the Unesco World Heritage): Katmandu Durbar Square, Patan Durbar Square, Bhaktapur, Buddhanath, etc.
We also took some time to discover Katmandu city with its colorful Thamel, full of tasty discoveries (Morro!) as well as shopping gifts such as scarfs, tea, spices and more.
We were also very lucky to be there for the Shivaratri festival, a well-known Hindu festival celebrated in Pashupatinath Temple. We tried to get there to witness the celebrations: we were only able to experiment the success of such a festival when seeing thousands of thousands of people (some coming from India) queuing to enter the temple.
I value a lot this experience due to the interactions, connections and discussions I had with the teachers, children, other volunteers, Nepali people in the city, tour guide. Seeing the library before and after was an incredible moment as we witnessed little by little the rebirth of an important place in a school: as we said it in the presentations, the hub of the school.
Come to a library camp and you open your heart. Thanks a lot to all!