Yesterday morning before my other volunteer work, I went to the Education Consultancy in Kathmandu where students are taking a course to get IELTS certified to learn at English-speaking universities around the world. (It’s a kin to a TOEFL certification.) They asked me to spend an hour asking and answering questions so they can get practice hearing a native speaker. I asked each of them what and where they hope to study. Most want to go to Australia (because that’s closest, easiest) but one wanted to study restaurant management at Oxford and one wanted to study technology in California. Some didn’t have a direction yet, but wanted to experience of another country. When I asked about dream jobs there was a lot of silence and pauses, but we worked through it. Different culture. We don’t talk about dream jobs and aspirations so much in Nepal. We do what’s required. I liked breaking those walls down.
One sweet young lady had a new baby and an MBA from a school in London, and asked me how to fit it all in so she could get another degree. They asked me everything from US immigration interviews questions, to tipping rules in the US (“Are they mean to you if you don’t tip?”) and my personal life. Again the shocked faces when I said most families don’t live 3-generations in a home in the US (we’re really doing it wrong, folks – the hard way). A favorite moment: when I told the whole room, but especially the ladies that they would be received better if they used forceful, confident voices. And I made the quietest ladies speak up. It was difficult, but they are trying hard!
Then I did a little pronunciation training, which was really fun for me! They don’t distinguish between L and R sounds, or P and F, B and V, or S and SH, and they’ve had teachers who are Nepali native in most of their English classes. I’m currently thanking my 4th grade French teacher for the French pronunciation training I received. By the end I had them all saying lollipop and ball instead of lorrifof and vall.
Anyway, after an hour, we finished, they thanked me endlessly, and as the program manager walked me out the door, I asked if it was helpful. As she was putting me in a taxi, she hugged me and said, “I love you!!” So I guess it went well.