Mondays through Thursdays a loud chatter can be heard coming from a normally quiet café as Nepali girls age 10-50 learn English through conversation with our volunteers.
Conversation club doesn’t start until 4:30 pm but the local girls start trickling in around 4. Pinky and Priya, sisters, arrive and immediately walk over to Brendan, a 20 year old Australian and greet him ‘you were sick yesterday.’ Brendan nods his head and replies in Nepali. The sisters giggle and introduce a friend who is joining the club for the first time.
It’s a typical start to conversation club and routines have quickly set in even though the group is only in its infancy. The conversation group was formed just two months ago in response to a local volleyball coach’s concern for his players. Most Nepalese learn to read and write English in school but they have little practice speaking which is vital when it comes to getting a higher paying job.
So far the club has seen regular attendance and new locals join each week as word spreads. Through conversation, doodles and the occasional vocabulary list volunteers and girls share cultures. As bonds form discussion topics progress from favorite foods and hobbies to religion and sometimes even dating.
So far the club has relied on an informal system of teaching English in which volunteers have created flashcards and practice worksheets to cater to individuals. Due to the success of the group more resources are being collected. The GVI hub in Thailand is working together with GVI Nepal to share resources and secure some English teaching books to cater to the girls who need to review the basics.
No matter the level of English, the hour of speaking and hanging out is just as enjoyable as it is educational. Pinkey, 19, says she couldn’t stop laughing one day while she was teaching Josh, a British volunteer, some Nepali. Meanwhile Priya, 18, is gaining self-assurance, she says she’s learned that ‘we should be more confident, we don’t have to be shy while talking with people.’