Friday, July 2, 2010

Monkey Bites and Crocodiles, a letter exchange

This is skipping ahead of the story a bit...

You may remember that I was presented to an assembly of students at the mountain school that had 400 students and no library.  Searching for something to say in my impromptu speech, I made a promise of a letter exchange between my son's school in Shaker Heights, Ohio, USA and their school, Shree Nava Vijayee Mahendra Secondary School in Nepal. This is without having any real plan in place or any advance discussion with the teachers in the US.

When I returned to the states from Nepal, in March 2010, I was surprised to learn that the writing teachers in my son's school were asking parents to come in and talk about their passions.  It was perfect timing!  Two weeks after I returned, I gave a Power Point presentation about education in Nepal called 'Monkey Bites and Crocodiles.' I asked my 6th grade audience to write a letter about a day in their life and mailed the letters to the students in Nepal.

Yes, I did tell stories about monkey bites and crocodiles with photos.  I'll show you these in later posts.

The return letters were slow in coming because, once again, political problems closed the school for weeks.  Also, the English teacher in Nepal had to wait until he had the time to take a 5 hour bus ride to Kathmandu to mail the return letters.  But they are here!

Archana Neupane gave me her permission to publish her letter.  It is very well written and also very typical of most of the letters we received.

You should be able to read this if you click on it.

My son's English teacher will continue the letter exchange in the Fall.

Why the exchange?  Our kids in the US need the awareness of other cultures as much as the kids in Nepal.    Most of the students in our neighborhood have a very limited understanding of poverty in developing nations.  The Shaker Heights sixth graders' thinking was so stimulated by the presentation that I had to limit their questions in the end.

If you would like me to come talk to your school or community group, let me know.  If I'm traveling close to you, I'll come with the Power Point and a pile of Nepali art objects.


  1. What a great idea. American kids who haven't traveled internationally are often unaware of the cultural differences in foreign countries. What a terrific way to raise awareness!

  2. It's truly wonderful. Your compassion and involvement is an example to follow. I really enjoyed this Jeri.
    xo lori

  3. What a beautiful child. I'm sitting here at my desk munching on an apple on a morning break. And I'll have lunch in a couple of hours. This dear child will not eat until late in the evening. How do they survive?

    Her handwriting is so clean and well done. I hope for her and her classmates more opportunitis to learn and a chance for good health.

    Thanks for making us more aware.

  4. Hi there..I just finished showing my husband a bunch of your mountain photos- (he loves the mountains (truth be told-he loves noisy dirt bike riding). Anyway, this little girls letter was so well done
    ( Still write all over the page and begin diagonally) lol.. but it indeed tells a story. How does she make it all day without a meal? Does she have something to nibble on? I think this is your son is actually in Ohio schooling? Interesting. Well, thanks for this update. I'm chewing on it..have a wonderful weekend, Regina-

  5. This is such a wonderful idea, to share, to communicate across continents, to understand how each is unique and similar. Nothing better!

  6. That's a great idea and so worthwhile. I hope it turns out the success you hope it will be. I'm sure that it will. So, you are back in the States now? I must have missed that significant fact. Welcome back!
    Blessings, Star

  7. What a dear soul you are. Such important work - on both sides of the world. Bravo!!!

  8. The girl's letter was so sweet. She has such a different life, and yet in many ways, the same as other children.

    This work restores your soul. Thanks for sharing.

  9. This is a wonderful idea. I think the American children can benefit even more than the ones in Nepal, for all the reasons you mentioned. It broke my heart that she doesn't get lunch. it must be hard for a little girl to go that long without eating - especially at school. We are so fortunate, in so many ways, most of which we take for granted. Great post. Thank you.

  10. Oh my, Archana tells it as it is for her. Nothing could be truer. I look in between her lines to find her life. It quiets me.

    You do a good good thing. You have hushed even me, recognizing the luxury of my day.