|Posted by Erika Fernbach on January 30, 2015 at 2:30 AM||comments (40)|
Libby Payne, media specialist of the Sanibel School, Sanibel, Florida, invited me to share my passion for writing biographies with fourth and fifth grade classes.
As the students and I chatted, I learned that they had read a wide range of biographies. The kids are strongly encouraged to read. The school participates in the Accelerated Reading (AR) Program. Each book is given a designated number of points. Prizes are given to students when they reach a half a million and a million points. Libby suggested that I get an RA designation for my bios, which I am doing.
I was asked to come back another day for the school’s seventh and eighth grade classes. Unfortunately my schedule did not permit it, but I will when I am in the area again. It was a delight to spend time at this top-notch school.
|Posted by Erika Fernbach on January 30, 2015 at 2:30 AM||comments (0)|
As part of the “National Novel Writing Month” in Los Angeles, California, I visited 7th grade classes at the James B. Taylor Middle School, Phillis Wheatley Middle School, Western Middle School, and the Amino Jefferson Middle School. All are Green Dot Charter Schools.
The students and I discussed the novels they were working on. Many had already written several thousand words. Questions arose about how to continue. Writers block definitely came up. I told them that most authors face this from time to time. We came up with solutions on how to proceed.
I was astonished to see the quality of the work these young people are producing. Two students were to be chosen to publish their award winning novels here. As soon as I receive them, you’ll be in for a treat.
|Posted by Erika Fernbach on May 15, 2014 at 5:05 PM||comments (0)|
I've visited public and private schools in many parts of Nepal. There are big differences between them due to many factors. The teachers and administrators I met are hard working and do the best they can with the situations they are given. Today I visited the Ullens School and was blown away. Its classes go from kindergarten through tenth grade. It is the only school in Nepal that offers world recognized advance placement courses.
Ullens celebrated its seventh anniversary this year. Its top-notch progressive teaching, that can match any of the best schools in the world, is due to its principal, Mr. Medin Lamichhane, an amazing man. He grew up very poor in a small village in Nepal, yet step by step, with hard work, perseverance, a dream, pursuing additional education, and some help along the way, he is what he is today.
Wow! I'm delighted to say that I found a new subject for Biographies that Inspire. This man's story will spire kids from all walks of life. Don't want to tell you more. You'll have to read the book, which should be completed sometime this year.
|Posted by Erika Fernbach on May 15, 2014 at 4:50 PM||comments (2)|
Every April 29, it’s Mother’s Day in Nepal. This year it falls on a Tuesday. Because Mothers are greatly respected and loved, Mother’s Day is a legal holiday. Schools, government offices, banks, and many businesses are closed. All over Nepal, young and old get together, have fun, and honor Mothers. Of course, gifts are also given. Since I’m a mother, I received several – a Snicker bar (big here with tourists) and a sparkling rhinestone bracelet.
This time in Nepal I have experienced a second New Year’s Eve and when I get home I’ll be able to celebrate a second Mother’s Day, too. What fun! I love parties.
|Posted by Erika Fernbach on May 15, 2014 at 3:20 PM|
I had read a fascinating article about Laxmi Bhusal, an older radio celebrity, and wanted to meet her. No one knew how to contact her. Weeks later, someone surprised me with, “I know her. My father who was a famous singer worked with her.” Even though Rohit Chhetry had never met her and his dad had been dead for over twenty years, they chatted like old friends. Laxmi told him, “Come over to the radio station tomorrow and bring your friend. I’d love to see you. You sound just like your father when you laugh. He was a good friend.”
At fourteen Laxmi did odd jobs at the radio station and at fifteen she auditioned for a new program. The Department of Agriculture wanted to disseminate easily understood information in an enjoyable way to farmers all over Nepal. Sought was a Budhi Aama, a simple village grandma. Laxmi could mimic this voice beautifully. She was hired and has been this character on Radio Nepal for almost fifty years. The programs are in Nepali. Farmers tune in regularly for her 15-minute program aired between 6:40 and 6:55 p.m. Laxmi is well known to all the farmers. Each program deals with a different subject. Laxi is its coordinator. Experts write the script and present it to Laxmi on the air. She listens to the expert, reacts with “ahah” “ahah,” asks questions, and makes comments. Laxmi invited us to attend her taping. Asked to sit quietly and not talk, Deepak Bhattarai, an animal health technician, was on deck today. The first program was about eliminating parasites from animals. The second was about making your own poultry feed rather buying ready made. Five minutes into this program the electricity shut down. No electricity – no taping. Reliable electricity is a problem all over Nepal.
Laxmi is a good-looking woman. Thinking L.A. about celebrities, I was surprised that she was never paid much and, therefore, couldn’t save money for retirement. Now at sixty-six, she has financial concerns. Too busy with her career, she never married, had no children, and no family members to call on. She was afraid that there was no one to take care of her as she aged. I felt for her. As we talked further, my friend Rohit came up with a solution that might work. I hope it does, for in that short period Laxmi and I formed a bond. I will definitely keep in touch with her.
|Posted by Erika Fernbach on April 27, 2014 at 4:05 AM||comments (0)|
Nepal has eight of the highest mountains in the world; they attract many trekkers. I love it here and have taken many easy treks, but there are those that want the ultimate – Ascending Mount Everest. Edmond Hillary was the first in 1953. Since then 4,411 people have made it to the top, but unfortunately, almost 250 died during that time on its slopes.
On April 18, at 6:45 a.m. the worst single tragedy ever occurred on Everest. A deadly avalanche struck just above the base camp of the mountain. A group of Sherpa guides and cooks were carrying food and ropes up to Camp 1 and 2. Those rescued were airlifted to be treated for broken bones and frost bite. Unfortunately, 16 died in the accident. Newspaper articles have been filled with photos of grieving relatives. My heart goes out to them. The president of the Everest Summiteers Association said that the place where the avalanche occurred has claimed others climbers’ lives over the years. Yet there is no other route to take. Climbing companies and climbers scheduled to climb Everest have decided they won’t this season. The tragedy has hit them hard also. So Everest, the world’s tallest peak, is closed.
|Posted by Erika Fernbach on April 27, 2014 at 4:00 AM||comments (0)|
Nepal’s diverse ethnic groups speak anywhere from 24-100 different languages and dialects, depending on how finely the distinctions are made. Nepali functions as the unifying language, so children are expected to know it, though less than half speak it as their first language. On top of this, much of the instruction at private schools is in English. Parents have told me, “Private schools are expensive. I work hard and don’t have much money. My husband and I have to make sacrifices to send them there. But they will get better jobs, have more opportunities, and important government exams are in English.” Therefore, there are many private schools in Nepal. A number of public schools are switching to English also. They too feel it is the way to go. It’s not easy for the kids. Each school that teaches in English faces the challenge of hiring teachers proficient and comfortable in it.
Many students leave Nepal for higher education. Often universities expect them to know the language of the country, since instruction is given in it. Students may have to learn Chinese, German, French, Russian, Spanish, Japanese, or Korean. One young doctor told me that she had to spend two years learning Russian in Moscow before she was accepted to medical school there. Two people applying to undergraduate school told me that they were able to take language classes in Nepal for six months before application procedures were carried forward, one to a German University and the other to a Japanese University.
Not a story about a Nepali student, but it fascinated me. Over breakfast Bill, 26, from Texas told me that he plans on getting a doctorate in Sanskrit. He’s already spent two years learning the language in India, is on holiday, and plans to go back to India soon. I had thought Sanskrit was a “dead language.” He said, “Not true. It’s alive and well.” No one speaks it but thousands are studying it. Its importance lies in that it is the root language of many Indo-European languages and also to understand ancient Indian texts you must know it.
|Posted by Erika Fernbach on April 27, 2014 at 3:55 AM||comments (0)|
Spent three days in Chitwan, home to rhinos, lots of Asian elephants, tigers, bizarre-looking crocodiles with slender elongated snouts, sloth bears with long claws, monkeys, deer, wild pigs, wild chickens, and lots of birds. On my jeep safari, elephant ride, and canoe ride, I spotted all these animals, except tigers. Yet, several other people told me they spotted some. All great fun. Bought one souvenir. Couldn’t resist. It’s a pad of paper made out of elephant poop. The elephants’ diet consists of leaves that are wrapped around a packet of rice, salt, and sugar. There is so much fiber in their poop, the local people found a use for it.
|Posted by Erika Fernbach on April 27, 2014 at 3:50 AM||comments (0)|
Time to party! Tonight we say goodbye to the 30th Chaira, 2070 and say hello to the first day of the New Year – 1st Baishak, 2071. (Nepal’s calendar is different than ours.) To celebrate families are gathering at each other’s homes. Tourists, like me, will be bringing in the New Year at clubs, bars, and hotels. I’m going to the Shangri-La Hotel which advertised:
“A Dance Performance by Miss Romy, model and dancer, DJ Sessions by popular DJ Jabagir, Lavish Gala Dinner, Welcome Drink, Exciting Door Prizes” All for $16 U.S.
Tomorrow, the first day of the New Year, there will be street festivities everywhere.
|Posted by Erika Fernbach on April 27, 2014 at 3:35 AM||comments (1)|
I spent an extraordinary day at an International American School, the Lincoln School. I met with the principal, teachers, librarian, and was treated to a performance by Jim Valley, a musician and rock and roll star. Seeking an outstanding education for their children, parents working in Nepal for the American and other Embassies, the U.N., commercial ventures, and also some local parents, enroll their children here. Students are from thirty-five nationalities. Some remain one-two years and others receive their total K-12 education here. Some are fluent in English and some will need to become proficient. The facilities are excellent; the atmosphere is warm and friendly. Teaching is in English using current- American-style curriculum. Also included are studies about Nepal. The school’s goal is to inspire passion for learning, confidence and competence to pursue dreams, commitment to serve as global citizens and leaders, and become stewards of the environment. You can’t beat that! When the students complete high school they are expected to attend a university in the U.S. or elsewhere.
Some teachers are Nepali but many are from the U.S. They are often recruited at U.S. campuses. Loving the experience of teaching in another country, this becomes their life. One teacher I spoke to had worked in Taiwan, Thailand, Kuala Lumpur, and Saudi Arabia before landing here. Many have met their life time partners overseas, married, and educated their children at the American School in which they worked.
The school librarian thought that my bios for children fit perfectly into the school’s curriculum. He ordered the books on Amazon and has asked me to return on Tuesday to talk to students. I’m looking forward to meeting the students, talking about my books, and answering questions they may have.
This year is the 60th anniversary of the school. The dynamic music teacher, Kathy Shrestha, invited Jim Valley, a talented musician, rock and roller, song writer, educator, adventure, world traveler, and international performer to commemorate the event. The kids loved him. His music, message conveyed in his songs, energy, and interaction with the audience were fabulous. For me visiting this school, meeting Jim Valley, and watching him perform marked another highlight of my trip.