This is a guest blog by ServLife Intern Heather Reid who participated in the Teacher Training Trip in 2015.
It’s been almost a year since I went on ServLife’s teacher training trip. I’m excited to think about the people who are preparing to go on this year’s trip as I think about how much I got out of my own trip. I myself am not a teacher nor am I pursuing a degree in education; however, I have finished my sophomore year of studying history and international relations. One doesn’t need to study these things to go on a mission trip, but my schooling gave me a deeper understanding of the challenges facing Nepal, and my experiences on the trip enriched what I study.
Nepal has a history of bonded labor and monarchy. Even with the onset Nepal’s republic, they are working against a hierarchy that doesn’t seek inclusion or equally value all of its members. Democracy is a habit that takes root in ideas like freedom of knowledge through education.
Through presenting an education conference for teachers in far-west Nepal, our team began to learn about some of the challenges of the education system. Schools are underfunded; there isn’t a universal commitment to education; Nepal’s economy is ill prepared for a generation of educated men and women even though that’s exactly what it needs to improve its infrastructure. Graduates usually try to go to India or come to the United States. It’s disheartening for teachers to feel like their investment isn’t being sown back into the country.
We were entering into a frustration that was bigger than the few days we were going to be there. It was obvious we couldn’t solve every problem, but the true value lay in making a dent and encouraging the teachers. Our real mission was to bolster the inherent value of teachers through engaging them in strategic learning and planning. Uplifted teachers perform more highly. That high performance leads to improved educational quality and in turn raises the national esteem for educational pursuits. Education increases autonomy and self-determination. It develops the individual and the system as a whole.
I am humbled to have been a part of ServLife’s presence in Nepal. They choose a slow and steady approach built on mutual respect to address issues with no easy solution. Systemic problems take years of work and study to affect incremental change. I’m so happy that I went on this trip, but I’m happier that there is another one this July.