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Feature: Young Chinese students enjoying as volunteer teachers in Nepal

KATHMANDU, Aug. 12 -- For Fu Ningyi and Zhu Han, their current visit to Nepal would bring them happy memories and an unforgettable experience when they return to China.

The two 16-year-olds from Beijing are not visiting Nepal as tourists but as volunteer teachers to young Nepali pupils at a school in Bhaktapur, an adjacent town of Kathmandu.

Ningyi and Han are among the 14 Chinese teachers who have volunteered to teach at the Diyashree English Boarding School, where children from nearby depressed area have been attending classes.

Of the 14 Chinese volunteer teachers, four of them, including Ningyi and Han, are high school students, while the ten are university students.

According to Keshav Acharya, the school principal, volunteer teachers from China usually stay from two to six weeks.

When Xinhua talked to them, it has been more than a week since Ningyi and Han, who have just passed their 10th grade, had been teaching their favorite subjects to Nepali school children.

The two teach mathematics and English for grade five students who number about 25.

"We have chosen to come here because we want to experience how life is like in a developing country. We want to teach them what is happening in the outside world. By doing that maybe we can inspire them to study abroad in the future," said Ningyi who, along with Han, will be returning to China next week to start school in the 11th grade.

Ningyi and Han have found their students to be 'extremely attentive' and eager to learn more. "Back home students always complain about food, weather and everything, but I have found that students here are happy and loving," Han said.

Coming from an affluent background, both of them have travelled around the world and they said they found Kathmandu as similar to what Beijing used to be 30 years ago.

"We have travelled to American and Europe, and we have found Nepal to be something that our parents used to describe China when they were growing up. There is no electricity sometimes. But we are enjoying here," the two said.

Located close to the slum area next to a riverbank, the Diyashree English Boarding School is unlike other modern schools in Kathmandu. With no proper classrooms, the improvised one-story building accommodates some 130 students from nursery to grade five.

According to principal Acharya, 32, the school is being run from donations from abroad and fees from students who can afford to pay.

"So far, we have managed to run the school well. We don't force the students to pay tuition but we accept fees from those who have the means," Acharya said.

Acharya gets the volunteer teachers from aboard, like Ningyi and Han, through a program called Nepal Volunteers Council. Most teachers from abroad are usually college students mainly from China and the United States.

How Acharya started the school in itself is a story. Acharya thought of the idea to start a free school for the poor when he was serving as a teacher in a village called Dhading, which is close to Kathmandu.

"When I was teaching there I found out that there were so many children who could not go to school because of poverty," Acharya said. He said when he opened the school he started with only 25 students; now the number has swelled to 130.

Nepal has one of the worst literacy rates in Asia with only 56 percent of the population able to read and write. The reason for the low rate is poverty, which stands at 25 percent.

Yuan Jiarong, 20, is another volunteer at the school. A graduate of the Hunan University of Science and Technology, Jiarong teaches drawing and English for grade two students.

She said she was advised by her friend who had taught at the same school two years ago. "My students like me a lot. They give me gifts and say they love me a lot. Some of them are clever and draw better than me," said Jiarong, who is known by her English name Jessica among the students.

At the school, a volunteer teacher is free to teach any subject of his or her choice. The teachers have to follow the school curriculum and when their tenure is over the new batch of volunteers would replace them.

Acharya said students in his school were more eager to learn from foreign teachers and they behaved well while attending classes handled by foreign volunteer teachers.


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