the wonderful world of veena.

14 August 2012

one school down, only 9 more to go...

Today Arpana [my awesome translator] and I completed our interviews in our first school! I think they went pretty well, but it is difficult to know for sure since we don't yet have anything to compare it to. The Social Mobilizers [Room to Read staff who work in the schools] were very nice and extremely helpful in setting up our interviews and preparing the school for our arrival. The interviews themselves went quite well, and we had no problems getting anyone to speak up or answer the questions. If all our interviews go like this, I will be extremely grateful, but I know realistically there are bound to be a few bumps along the way. But this was certainly a great school to get us started.

I was so thankful so many times for my Practicum project, teammates, and partners these last two days. As difficult - and, at times, agonizing - as those last few month were when Stan, Christine, and I were literally spending upwards of 6 hours every day analyzing interview data, I feel so prepared now for this project. I was comfortable leading the interviews and speaking with a variety of different people, and I am already able to see how I can start organizing my data. All those months of hardship and no sleep and working round-the-clock during Spring Break prepared me well.

At first glance, there are many similarities between government schools in Nepal and their counterparts in India. The uniforms are the same, the girls are just as giggly, all of the staff are friendly and welcoming [yesterday they bought us soft drinks, just as the headmaster in Kengeri used to buy me chai], the buildings are similar, the assembly is the same, the students are equally as curious...the list goes on. I felt very much at home in the setting as a result of having spent so much time at government schools in and around Bangalore, and I think my ease helped to put the people we interviewed at ease as well. [or I could just be giving myself a whole lot of credit. whatever, it's my blog, I'm allowed]

The other nice thing about this school was that it was quite close to our hotel - only a 30-minute journey by car. That meant that we did not have to get up super early to hit the road [thank goodness those 6am starts to drive to Highland are behind me], and we were able to come back and have a late lunch at our hotel. Apparently, the farthest school is a 2.5 hour drive, but we'll be able to stay overnight when we visit that school, so it shouldn't be too bad. And the school timings are 10am to 4pm, so the earliest we'd have to leave is probably about 8am. I can handle that.

I think the biggest adjustment for me is the school week. In Nepal, the week begins on Sunday, Friday is the half-day, and Saturday is the holiday. As it stands now, we will be visiting a school on Sunday and Monday, using Tuesday as a data analysis day, visiting a different school on Wednesday and Thursday, and then using Friday as a data analysis day. Saturday is a day off, but as there's not a whole lot to do out here, we'll probably spend part of it working so that we'll have less work at the end. There is a national park in this district, about a 2 hour drive from here, so that might be a good possibility in a few weeks when we might need a slight change of scenery.

I shall go for now and reward myself for a successful, productive few days by spending the remainder of my night reading for pleasure.

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