‘As the sun enters the volunteers’ house through the plastic parts of the rooftop and falls directly on our faces, we leave our sleeping bag sluggishly like a butterfly coming out of its cocoon. Stepping out of the volunteers’ house, we would find ourselves brushing our teeth and washing our faces in the dense fog. Being shrouded in mist, the whole surrounding leaves me thinking I am still in my dreams.
Students start coming in to school at 9am and on the way to their classrooms, they would always peek into the kitchen and find the volunteers having their breakfast. “Good morning, Sir,” “Good morning, Ma’am!” they would say whole-heartedly and we would greet them in reply with a mouthful of food and a cheerful smile.
It is a tradition in Maya Universe to begin a school day with ‘The Circle’. As its name would suggest, headmaster and teachers, students and volunteers- everyone in Maya would gather together at the football pitch to form a large circle. Ashis, the headmaster, then leads us all with sets of body-stretching exercises, warming us up for the day. Next up is group singing, students would sing at the top of their lungs with songs they have known very well with practices done daily. One of the songs I came to like and have picked up from the students is the ‘Maya Song’. It is generally recognised as the school anthem and ‘Maya’ stands for heart in Nepalese. The song goes something like this…
Everywhere we go, people like to know,
Who we are, where we come from.
So we tell them we are the Mayas, mighty mighty Mayas…
To end ‘The Circle’, a few students would volunteer and proudly recite poems and paragraphs they have carefully produced, this is often accompanied by an encouraging round of applause.
During my time at Maya, I have helped teaching art classes and science lessons. The students at Maya are divided into 6 classes according to their age. Class N is the youngest of all with N stands for Nursery. Science lessons with Class N would be teaching some basic vocabularies such as ‘O-range’ and ‘E-le-phant’. Then there are Class A, B, C, D and E. Class A are the eldest in the school with only 5 students, hence each of them were given full attention while Htet and I taught them about the different states of water and the names for each transition phase.
Each lesson lasts 45 minutes and after three slots of lessons, we would have an hour long of lunch. This is then followed by another three slots of lessons, where us volunteers head back to either teaching or construction works.
The day formally ends at 4:15pm for everyone. The boys would be seen playing football in the pitch. Volunteers would form groups and head off to the public shower in the adjacent village. As we walk past the football pitch with our lungi (a piece of cloth to wrap around our body to preserve our modesty while showering), the children would eagerly greet us and shout out our names; whilst we enthusiastically greet them back, we are all secretly hoping that they would not follow to see us shower.
Darkness descends around 6pm. By this time, all volunteers would be gathering in the kitchen catching up with each other and exchanging funny stories that had happened with the children on that day. Some of us would also crouch around the fire, whilst the dhal in the high-pressure cooker is boiling away, to rid ourselves of the chills from the cold air. Dinner is perhaps the liveliest time of the day after ‘The Circle’, since a jamming session on the guitar accompanied by off-tune singing would always follow everyone has finished eating. By 11pm, everyone would be tucked back into their sleeping bags, sleeping like a worm in its cocoon.
2nd Year Mathematics