Leadership and Coaching in Nepal – Deborah Koehler (part 9)

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Hospitality Training

For the next 12 school days I will be working in a Hospitality College that teaches 19 and 20 year olds for 3 years, before they do a 1 year international internship that helps them learn how to work in a 5 star hotel.

During my 6 weeks in Nepal, the first 3 were devoted to Corporate Training. Now the last 3 will be devoted to College training.

Most of the students from Kathmandu Valley have had foreign teachers for English at one time or another in their school lives, but students from the villages have not.  There are at least 10 village students in my class who have never had an email address or a computer, although most do have a mobile phone.  They do their homework on their phone or use the computer lab at the college.

As I will only teach them for 12 days –1 hour a day, 5 days a week – my objectives must be clear.  I want them to learn about punctuality, team work, their character, self presentation, email writing, and active learning.  Each of my assignments contains at least two of these elements.

My first assignment was to divide the classroom into 3 teams and have each team clean 1/3 of the classroom.  This meant one team had the floor, the bottom of the desks, and the dust boards; another, the top of the desks, the walls, and the backs of chairs; the third, the windows, curtains, ceiling, fans, and air conditioners.  Each group had to self organize, obtain the needed cleaning supplies, and figure out how to work as a team.

This may seem like a very simple task, but most children, especially city boys in Nepal never clean anything. There is staff in their homes to do all the cleaning. Students from the village know about cleaning, but not the ones from the more wealthy homes in the city. Mistakes were made: spraying an ink-removing chemical on the windows leaves an oily film that takes an hour to remove; a single knife is not enough to remove all the chewing gum that had accumulated under the desks and chairs; wrong things got used to remove the scribbles from permanent markers on the white boards. They worked solidly for an hour. However I told them that the job was not finished until all equipment was put away, all rags washed, and all garbage disposed off.  Also no one could leave the room until all work was done. They each had to know their own tasks and to help each other.

At first, it was chaotic, but they soon settled into their roles and started to work together. This was their first time to be a team, and they did not know each other well. By the end, however, they did – and they appreciated the support they all got from others.

With this activity, they started to form social bonds that they will need to enrich and extend in their other classes. They started to take pride in their class and classroom. They started to take pride in the job they were doing. I asked them how, if they do not see the dirt in their own room and clean it, how will they keep clean the hotel properties in which they will work in the future. I wanted to open their eyes and build their sense of accountability. They had to learn to care for that which they are given. That was not a lesson they had learned at home.

Their homework was always to observe, to describe, and to draw the relevant lessons. They are used to passive learning where the teacher tells them what they need to know. They needed to practice, again and again, what it means to be an active learner, to grab for themselves the learning opportunities that are all around them every day. I think we made some progress. Part 10