Recent Lincoln School News

Wednesday, March 2, 2016

Explore Nepal 11/12

Paul Simon and Black Mambazo play to a backdrop of banana trees and steep mountain peaks—an unusual contrast for the village of Tupche in the Newakot district. A small iPhone and a portable speaker are the only modern conveniences at the site, and the most useful technology is a pick and shovel, a few handsaws and a pair of tape measures. For many of the 11th and 12th grade students who wield them, the tools are surprisingly foreign objects despite their primitive nature. What the students are experiencing is work in the purest form—sore muscles and blistered hands, a bit of gritty sweat and dirty clothes. But there was more to be discovered than just the rewards of labor on their Explore Nepal trip, as the upper grades combined their efforts with the “All Hands” organization to begin the process of building a brand new school for the 270 students from the surrounding villages who lost their school in last year’s 7.8 earthquake.

The Bachchhala School suffered much damage, as their main two-level structure broke at the pillars and completely sandwiched the first floor. With divine luck, as many of the local villages will recount, the ground shaking event that happened on that Saturday and brought the building down could have been even worse. Had it been on any other day, the weakly designed building that came crashing down on itself would have contained much more than just desks and broken chalkboards.

Other school buildings were damaged as well and will require retrofitting before they can be considered earthquake safe. Children have lost their areas of learning and are now crammed into a series of temporary lean-tos made of bamboo sheathing, plastic sheets and corrugated aluminum to separate the inside from the elements. The structures work for their daily classes but offer tight accommodations for the numerous students. They are not satisfactory as a long-term solution.

The collaborative efforts of Lincoln and Bachchhala students under the guidance of “All Hands” are on track to change this. As a means of cultural exchange and service learning, Lincoln students spent five days on site experiencing life in the mountain village and beginning the process of constructing a new school. A new site has been allocated for a brand new school that has been purchased with funds from the Lincoln School Earthquake Relief Fund. The site was bought in part by the local village along with a six ropani area of land that was donated by local village elder Netra Kumari Sapkota. Truly, this is a collaboration of many hands on many fronts.

As Lincoln students bent rebar for cement pillars and dug postholes for the bamboo tool shed, magic was happening. Not only were Lincoln students making stronger relationships among themselves and rediscovering old friendships, new acquaintances were being made with local students as they worked side by side towards a common mission. The deeper value of the work slowly became apparent.
In addition to working on the new school, Lincoln students also prepared classroom lessons for various grade levels at the Bachchhala School. There were science classes, essay writing and grammar instruction and general health workshops for both boys and girls. The students performed excellently in their role as teacher and demonstrated high levels of confidence and maturity.

The 11th and 12th graders also found out much about themselves over the week and dealt with some adverse situations, like learning to use the bathroom in the middle of the rice fields. The dust was plenty and they finished the day tired, but all of this was easily placated with good food, the beauty of a full moon and the calmness of village life. And, more importantly, their work began a journey of recovery for the many students of the Tupche village who have been left without a place of learning.