Nepal Summer

Research that builds bridges and empowers girls education in Nepal

Departure: Late May 2018

Application Deadline: April 15, 2018

Volunteer Commitment: $4,990

Our Summer Program in Nepal

May 19th - July 15th, 2018 |
Shared Volunteer Housing or Host Family
Research in Girls Education

A first of its kind for WorldTeach, the Nepal Girls Education Research program is an eight-week experience in conducting community research concerning key barriers in girls’ education. It is aimed at demystifying menstruation and boosting skills, knowledge, empowerment and school retention among adolescent girls. While Kathmandu and urban areas have progressed in overcoming these barriers to girls’ education access, the rural communities still fall behind. This program will offer the unique opportunity for volunteers to learn a collaborative approach to conducting research in partnership with the local population. Research will be conducted in the rural and semi-rural communities in different districts across Nepal.

Specifically, the inquiry’s agenda is:

  • In-depth exploration of the menstruation taboos and their impact in girls’ education
  • Examination of the availability of the Menstruation Hygiene and Management (MHM) in schools.
  • Exploration of the other barriers such as household chores in girls’ education.
  • Tracing parents’ and teachers’ response to girls’ education, connections that illuminate what and how young girls acquire taboo-riddled information.
  • Analysis that leads to the creation of empowerment trainings and/or intervention models necessary to address barriers in the realm of girls’ education.

Country Overview

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 multiple Eastern cultures, and hospitable people. The program runs during the summer monsoon season. Despite periods of rain, there are also wonderful days to engage in the rich history, culture, and spectacular natural beauty of this mountain nation. Nepal is home to a unique and harmonious coexistence of Hindus, Buddhists, Muslims, and Christians. 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. No photo can adequately capture your time here though this stunning country will remain with you long after you’ve returned home.

Your Role

This program is an excellent opportunity for individuals looking for direct research experience with working professors on an ongoing project before pursuing graduate school themselves. It 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 Community-Based Participatory Research (CBPR) methodology of photovoice. 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.”

With photovoice, community members are provided cameras to explore community concerns and assets, then generate ideas for bringing about change. WorldTeach volunteers will be trained in this collaborative research process by Research Assistant Professor at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill and WorldTeach alumna, Alexandra Lightfoot, EdD. They will facilitate photovoice projects designed to support the implementation and enhance the evaluation of the Girls’ Empowerment Program, initiated by Echidna Global Scholar, Ganga Gautam.

The program has three distinct phases. First, a week-long orientation in Kathmandu where you will be trained in the necessary methodology by Professor Gautam and Dr. Lightfoot. Next you will disperse in the rural surroundings of Pokhara, where, through local interpreters, you will work with girls, their families, and communities collecting data. In the final portion,, the group returns to Kathmandu to analyze data and compile reports, employing the analytic skills learned in training and over the course of the program. Chances for peer and faculty feedback further help you refine collaboratively written reports.

Placement & Housing

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.

Explore Nepal

You will have a chance to get to know two sides of Nepal: the sleepy mountain villages as well as the urban bustle of Kathmandu. Excursions and activities are planned for the midpoint of the program, with trekking options around the scenic 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 does not 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!). An extended list of packing suggestions will be provided during pre-departure preparation.

Finances

Your contribution to the Nepal Summer program of $4,990 goes towards:
  • Research-specific training methodologies and reporting by faculty members in field
    Housing
  • Comprehensive orientation, mid-service, and end of service training conferences
  • Planned excursions during program
  • 24-hour in-country field staff support
  • Pre-departure preparation and visa assistance if necessary
  • Supplemental overseas travel medical insurance
  • Alumni services and networking

Participants 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.

Requirements

Volunteers are expected to have strong interpersonal skills in intercultural settings 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