You can dance if you want to!

When I read this section of my interview with Brooke Laura it makes me question if what Saprinu is trying to teach in Nepal is not exactly what we should be teaching in our country.  A generation of critical and independent thinkers who can lead us forward with hope and fairness.  This is the third installment of my interview with Brooke.  As you read this my two boys and I are in Archale living the good life Nepali style.  So we wish you all peace, love and a happy simple life.  Namaste.

Did you receive pushback from the community in Nepal?

I think one wonderful thing of working in Nepal is there is an openness to outsiders.  This has allowed quite a nice working relationship with the village.  

But there is also a negative perception of NGO and humanitarian organizations that work in Nepal because I think a lot of these organizations come into rural Nepal and kind of put a band aid on the problems.  They deal with the perceived problems by giving handouts and then they leave the community and it all falls apart.  These communities end up being worse than they started.

So I think that there always is a bit of hesitation in the beginning saying “what are your intentions?”.  We always try to work with that in the beginning and not implement any changes in the community unless there is a need.  So no change unless it is addressing a need. Because of this we really have experienced very little resistence. 

We try to collaborate with the government and not work completely as an independent organization while retaining our independence and political neutrality available.  It is extreme challenge to work with government there just in the lack of structure and systems.  

When you are working in a rural community in the Himalayas you really lack technology, means of communicating, transportation isolates you, Just getting resources to the school is tremendously difficult. Also in terms of education what we are trying to do, create a system where we teach kids to think critically, independently, out of box, think for themselves that’s just not done in Nepal.  What we trying to instill in them, principles that are important to all of us, threat each other right, respect our earth, a lot of things we try to incorporate into our mission and curriculum is just new. 

We employ all local teachers and they haven’t been brought up in a system like this.  They all learned in government schools, so we are working to train our teachers to teach our students differently.  We are working to change the way our teachers look at education.  This won’t happen in a year, in two years, three years it takes time and really having patience to stick through it. It will take 10 years to measure our success, stick with it, stick with it, that’s what we are doing.

Define success in ten years?

Students graduating and being able to stay in their communities if they wish.  Our students being active participants in our community, they are setting up small business’, setting up organic farms, have distribution lines set up that allow these farms and business be successful.  The majority of our students and their families are currently subsistence farmers; we want to be able to provide opportunities for them through their education. We want them to be able to stay if that is what they choose.  Also if they want to go on to college we have prepared them.  Hopefully the ones who go on to university and have the opportunities to go abroad will give back because of what has been instilled in them through their early education.  So if they go abroad they still give back to their country and their community, if they stay they make their community better and stronger.