MAY 12-JULY 7, 2018 ・ SHARED VOLUNTEER HOUSING ・ RESEARCH IN GIRLS EDUCATION
Nepal, a tiny country nestled between the behemoths of China and India, is home to jaw-dropping mountainous scenery, deep cultural traditions, a fascinating mixture of Eastern cultures that somehow all “work” there, and warm people. The program runs during the summer monsoon season, and while there surely will be rains, there are also wonderful days to engage in this unique country, rich in history, culture, and spectacular natural beauty, a country that is home to a fabulous mixture of Hindus and Buddhists, with Muslims and Christians as well. This is the land of the Living Goddess Kumari, of sherpas and Mt. Everest, and of eight of the 14 peaks in the world over 8,000 meters. Your time in this stunning country is not one to be forgotten.
In the first of its kind for WorldTeach programs, the WorldTeach Nepal Girls Education Research program is an eight-week experience that will focus on the community research on the key barriers in girls’ education including the taboos associated with menstruation. The research will be conducted in the rural and semi-rural communities in different districts of Nepal.
The key inquiry agenda of this research will be:
- In-depth exploration of the menstruation taboos and their impact in girls’ education
- Availability of the (Menstruation Hygiene and Management) MHM in schools.
- Exploration of the other barriers such as household chores in girls’ education.
- Parents’ and teachers’ response to girls’ education. This means how they see educating girls and how much support the girls have received from their parents and teachers.
- The kind of empowerment training and other interventions necessary to address the barriers.
Another memorable experience was interacting and befriending many locals here in Nepal. I've never met a community country-wide that was so genuinely kind and helpful and caring of our well-being, especially in my host family and from our field director. It has all completely changed my outlook and has touched my heart immensely.
Community-Based Participatory Research (CBPR), as defined by the Kellogg Foundation’s Community Health Scholars Program, is a “collaborative approach to research that equitably involves all partners in the research process and recognizes the unique strengths that each brings. CBPR begins with a research topic of importance to the community with the aim of combining knowledge and action for social change to improve community health and eliminate health disparities.” This program will bring together WorldTeach volunteers with girls and their families from Nepal to explore the health and educational impacts of Nepalese customs around menstruation, including using the CBPR methodology of photovoice.
With photovoice, community members are provided cameras to explore community concerns and assets and generate ideas for bringing about change. WorldTeach volunteers will be trained in this collaborative research process by Research Assistant Professor at the Gillings School of Global Public Health at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill and WorldTeach alumna, Alexandra Lightfoot, EdD, and facilitate photovoice projects designed to support the implementation and enhance the evaluation of the Girls’ Empowerment Program, initiated by WorldTeach Nepal Field Director, Associate Professor of English Education at Tribhuvan University Nepal, and Echidna Global Scholar, Ganga Gautam. The program is aimed at demystifying menstruation and boosting skills, knowledge, empowerment and school retention among adolescent girls. This program will offer the unique opportunity for volunteers to learn a collaborative approach to conducting research in partnership with communities.
After a week-long orientation in Kathmandu where you are trained in the necessary research and data collection methods by Professor Gautam and Dr. Lightfoot, the first couple weeks of the program are spent in the rural surroundings of Pokhara, where you, through local interpreters, work with girls, their families, and communities collecting data. After several weeks, the group returns to Kathmandu to compile reports for remaining weeks, employing the skills learned in training and over the course of the program. Chances for peer and faculty feedback further refines the reports.
You will have a chance to get to know two sides of Nepal, the sleepy mountain villages in the first half and the urban bustle of Kathmandu in the second. Excursions and activities are planned for the mid-point of the program with trekking options around the beautiful town of Pokhara at the foot of the spectacular Mt. Annapurna. The time period for exploration of Nepal will depend on monsoon season on the sub-continent, but that doesn’t mean it rains all the time. Whatever the trekking, it will be done at “tea houses” so you need not bring sleeping bags, etc. for the trek (but do bring good hiking shoes and a day pack!).
All volunteers stay together as a group throughout the program, traveling and staying in different parts of Nepal at various points in the program in local hotels, B&B’s, or as guests with local families, depending on the location at the time. You are encouraged to explore the communities where you stay and partake in Nepalese customs if the opportunity arises.
The volunteer contribution to the Nepal Summer program is $4,990. This amount goes towards:
- Pre-departure preparation and visa assistance if necessary
- Supplemental overseas health and emergency evacuation insurance
- Comprehensive orientation, mid-service, and end of service training conferences
- Research-specific training methodologies and reporting by faculty members in field
- Excursions throughout program
- 24-hour in-country field staff support
- Alumni services and networking
Many volunteers are able to successfully fundraise all or a significant portion of their program expenses. Please refer to our fundraising page for more information about fundraising possibilities.
Volunteers are expected to have good interpersonal skills in intercultural setting and be sensitive to the local culture. Since girls’ education barriers and menstruation taboos are associated to culture, religion and tradition, it is important to have conversation on these issues delicately. People in the rural areas are not well-educated and might not understand the research jargon. So, the questions might need to be simplified and information collected from a conversational setting. We expect the volunteers to have such skills of integrating the research questions in a friendly conversation so that respondents feel at ease. Also, the rural communities in Nepal do not have modern amenities, we expect the volunteers to be adaptable in the local situation.
Volunteers in the Nepal Summer program must:
- Be a native-level English speaker
- Be between the ages of 18 and 74
- Be flexible, open-minded, and patient
- Have a genuine interest in research and data reporting