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Crystal Mountain School-Trimonthly report

This report includes the information about the different curricular and non-curricular activities that the teachers have been conducting for the past 3 months and are currently involved in.

 

Senior Department (Classes 5, 6 and 7)

This department was jointly handled by Dilraj, Meeraj and Binamra. They are class teachers of 7, 6 and 5 respectively (Now except Meeraj who left the school). Class teachers would take 4 lectures in their class and 1 lecture in other classes. So, each teacher had 5 lectures per day. Class teachers taught most of the subjects to their respective class leaving 1 subject for the other teachers.

Currently, the vacant lectures of Meeraj arebeing filled by Subash and Sahana. Dixit will fill this vacancy when he arrives this coming week.

The target curriculum of these classes has been met in accordance with the division of the academic year. They have been trying to meet the following objectives through the teaching process:

  • Improving the rudiments of the students in the grammar of language.
  • Making sure that the students have actually understood the topics and can try to explain their understanding.
  • Engaging the students in frequent group and individual discussions to enhance their communicative and interpretative skills.
  • Conducting frequent oral and written tests and assignments to evaluate on their understanding.

Junior Department (Classes1, 2, 3 and 4)

This department was handled by Subash, Bipan and Sahana with the government teachers. Since there was a frequent flux in the government teachers, routine had to be frequently amended. Currently, we have two local teachers (2 Phurwas, who had finished +2) guide the super juniors with Karma Wangmo. Nyima Dhargye teaches for Class 1. All other teachers guide classes 2, 3 and 4. In average, the teachers here take 5 classes a day. Government teachers mostly focus on Nepali and Social studies. Sahana focuses on English and Math. Bipan teaches creative studies. Subash guides the students in Science, Computer and Math from time to time. Here, the teachers mainly focus on improving the students’ basic knowledge in Language, Science, and Math. Creative methods have been used while teaching for utmost interaction among students. Use of games and art is also being done to achieve a fun-learning environment in the class. Our Tibetan teacher takes regular classes alternately.

Extra-Curricular Activities

All the teachers get involved in this faculty. They take the classes of their respective faculty in the alternate days of a week.

Music Class: This class is conducted by Binamra, Dilraj and Subash. Since the numbers of students wanting to learn music is high, three teachers divide the class and take the theory classes independently. The plan to undertake instrument classes is likewise. Students till now have learned basic music theory and general musical terminologies. In upcoming classes, they will be implementing the theories in the instruments.

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Art Class: Subash, Sahana and Bipan conduct the art class. They take the class simultaneously where each one focuses on a particular technique or art form. They guide the students with techniques of shading, origami and freestyle practice of art.

Dance class: This class is conducted by Sahana. It started before the cultural program in the village when students had performed on behalf of the school. During that program, Karma Wangmo and Nyima Dharkya were actively involved in preparing the students for the Tibetan culture dance. Sahana guided the students in Western and Nepali cultural dance. Currently, this class is being postponed till the exam is finished. Our half yearly exam is under way.

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Other activities

Dilraj conducts football training for both male and female students.  Their training is conducted in an alternate basis. This training focuses on developing the students’ physical flexibility and helps to create an environment of working in a team.

Recently, mentorship program has been organized for the seniors. A teacher gets 5 or 6 students so that all the students can get their individual time. This approach is designed to guide the students with their communicative, interpretative and expressive skills in language as well as other academic and extra-curricular areas. These sessions are conducted for 1 hour alongside the tutoring sessions.

Also, we have started tutoring sessions for the hostel students. This session is conducted alongside the mentorship session that happens every day from 5:30-8:00 pm. In this session, we guide the students in their academic queries and look for a different way to solve their problem.

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CMS Dolpo students in Ladakh

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On January 21, 2018, a team of seven (three teachers/staff and four students) from Crystal Mountain School left for Ladakh.  After a night in Delhi on January 22, we got at Students Educational and Cultural Movement of Ladakh (SECMOL) campus, where we spent the next two weeks learning and exchanging many skills and knowledges with students from Ladakh.

SECMOL is known for its alternative approach to education in Ladakh and for initiating key reforms in the education system in Ladakh, notably through the formation of village education committees (VECs) who were given the ownership of planning and developing programs, as well as through their teacher training program that has benefited over 700 teachers from the region so far. New textbooks which depict Ladakhi culture and environment were developed in simple English language for primary classes. They have also developed bilingual Ladakhi/English educational materials in the forms of story books and charts. Their results were very promising: the number of students who passed in the state matriculation exams increased to 50% from a time when 95% of students failed in the same examination.

SECMOL campus, an eco village where students, teachers, staff and volunteers live, work and learn together, was established in 1998. It is not a conventional school but a place to pursue practical, environmental, social and traditional knowledges, values and skills. There, students learn Ladakhi local knowledge and history, songs and dance alongside modern academic knowledge and the students manage, run and maintain the campus by themselves like a mini government which is indeed very inspiring.

There were three different groups of students. The foundation students are the ones who have finished class ten or some of them who are failed in government exam and are taught and guided for a year at SECMOL. The college students go to college in the Leh, capital of Ladakh, and participate in SECMOL life in the evening. The third groups who were right in their internship outside Ladakh when we were there are those who pursue two-year passive solar building course.

The buildings are all solar powered with excellent insulation. Shockingly, most of the buildings have a temperature of 15 degree Celsius when the outside temperature is -15 degree Celsius. The buildings are built with earth which act as a thermal heat bank and keep warm in winter whereas act as a natural cooler in the summer. The toilets are all compost toilets similar to the traditional toilets in Dolpo or Ladakh which do not require water. There are two chambers along with a pair of manure chambers at the base of each toilet.  The chambers are used alternated each year which helps to compost the manure easily. It is then used for fertilizing fields and green houses. They have many greenhouses (most are semi-underground) which provide them a plenty of vegetables including in the winter. Some types of leafy green vegetables can even be grown in their greenhouse with a special insulation from the floor. The bathrooms and washing areas are so well managed under the greenhouse with the water supply drained three feet under the ground from the underground well and stored in the tank without freezing throughout the winter. The waste water from the kitchen and bathing block known as greywater runs to canals supplying water to willow, apricot and apples trees below the campus.

Along with these things we enjoyed learning a little bit of skating and ice-hockey every morning. We are planning to start ice-hockey at Crystal Mountain School in Dolpo through collaboration with and technical support from SECMOL.

In the afternoon and evening, CMS students participated in all aspect of SECMOL life such as one-on-one conversation classes where our students shared about Dolpo and learned many things about Ladakh and other parts of world in the fields of education, culture, lifestyle and environment and of course hear from the student; how they are enjoying and how blessed they are being in SECMOL campus. We also interacted in Dolpo and Ladakhi language and perfectly understood each others language. More than an educational exchange, this became a platform to meet and build a network between two young generations of the same culture but who are now living in two separate countries.

Outside SECMOL Campus, apart from visiting some famous monasteries and historical sites in Leh and Shey, we visited the ‘Ice Stupa’ and ice storage site which is a true game changer for Ladakh. The beauty of this Ice stupa is that during winter when no one needs water, water is brought to lower place using an underground pipe. Due to gravity, the water in the pipe rises in the lower altitude and is sprayed into -20 degree Celsius thus forming a small ice cone and ultimately a big ice block, similar to stupa shape which solves the problem of water scarcity in Ladakh for irrigation and drinking during the dry spring months. This year there are four ice stupa and grounded ice storage. Ultimately this initiative will help to green the vast desert of Ladakh.

After two weeks of an eye opening, very enlightening and a life changing experiences in SECMOL, we came back to Nepal with a big hope to replicate these wonderful ideas in Dolpo and share with other Himalayan communities so that we all can fight back the common challenges faced by the mountain people in the areas of education, cultural and environmental preservation, livelihood and politics, together.

We would really like to extend our deepest gratitude to Sonam Wanchuk leh, who kindly invited us for the visit and funded part of the trip. Despite his busy schedule, we got an opportunity to share with him for hours about Dolpo, and learn from his vast knowledge and expertise on education and livelihood in the high Himalaya. We are equally thankful to Becky leh, and Norgay leh, and the whole SECMOL family for the kind hospitality and everything else. We already miss SECMOL, the morning skating, the foods, the Ladakhi zhunglu and everything. We really wish to come again in the coming years, and hope someday some of you will make it to Dolpo!

Juley!

 

 

 

 

Reflections by Fellows and Volunteers

Home Away from Home: Volunteering at Crystal Mountain School

Students during the morning assembly, Crystal Mountain School

A post on call for volunteers at Crystal Mountain School that’s all it took for me to decide to pack my bag and take 2 flights, and walk 4 days by myself to get to the place where I had never been before and where I knew no one. As I stepped on the school ground students started greeting me, small kids did it multiple times actually. They were all so excited to have me and so was I. The warm welcome and hospitality was so selfless and generous it made me forget everything else and just be in the moment with the wonderful people. I taught English subject to the students. I enjoyed teaching them. After school I went to Taakshi village for a visit with a teacher from our school. We went to a hotel there, the owner and many villagers had recently returned from China after their trade of Yarchagumba, clothes and other goods. I realized that Chinese market is nearer and easier to access for them than the markets at lower places of Nepal. We had Chinese tea and Uwa Satu there.

Me with my students, CMS

After school a student requested me to go to her house and I went with her and had a great time. We went to a nearby river and I climbed on a cliff with them. We collected different flowers and made a bouquet out of them. We went to Dho and many people encouraged me for what I was doing, they said they had never seen a young girl volunteering as a teacher for children in such a remote place. Every morning I joined my students for prayers for half an hour. I enjoyed the sound produced and got lost within for a while.

As a festival of Maane was approaching I taught dance to students. After the last class, they had some tea and immediately they came to me to learn dance. I could see that they were very excited to learn. I also helped students with their assignments. I joined them for prayer in the evening.

Me dancing with the villagers during ‘Waang’, Dho village

Finally, the day of Waang; final day of Maane came and our school was closed. Like every other woman in the village I got dressed in Tibetan dress and ornaments and I also recited Maane(Om Maane Peme Ho). There were so many people from different villages praying together entire day and slept in tents at night. I was very fascinated by the unity among villagers.
The blowing of big drums and instruments and praying on the background made me feel lost somewhere. I performed Tibetan dance ‘Shyarbo’ with villagers, few men played traditional instrument called Dhyamgin and other men and many women danced in a circle joining hands.

Inauguration of a monastery near Taakshi village

On Saturday I went for a hike around the cliffs. I got lost in the solitude and serenity of the mountains. I couldn’t stop myself from sleeping on the grass and enjoy the sunshine. Only sound I could hear was my heartbeat. I enjoyed the freshness of air. I met few people going to transfer their Raman; place away and at higher altitude from the village. I went down to village and had some ‘Polo’ tea which is herbal tea. I went to Panighatta with my two students and saw ‘Champa’ being made from ‘Uwa’. I talked to villagers about the struggle they face and the work they do every day. After all it’s not the same to cook food by burning cattle dung and by using electric heater, it’s not the same to have market in a few minutes drive and after 2 days horse ride which could be accessed only once a year.

Yaks carrying food and goods from China, CMS

Chirping sounds of birds woke me up. The grass cutting had started in the villages. I went to assist villagers in cutting grass. The fields were beautiful in a riverbank between two small villages Dhoro and Sepche. Most of us cut grass, a girl collected the grass and her father tied it up beautifully. On the way back to school I could see villagers working in their fields, helping each other. Lights glowed at midnight and when everyone else would be dreaming, Dolpopas were busy cutting the ‘Uwa’ as grains would fall apart during the daytime. I wanted to experience that myself that’s why I went with one of my students. We ate daal, bhaat, potato curry for dinner. We were seven of us sharing a tent in the fields. We started cutting ‘Uwa’ at midnight, the fields were by riverside. The light pattern in the background kept changing, with people starting and stopping at different times. We collected the fallen grains from last night the next day. Afterward, I rested on the field looking at the sky and working villagers.

Attending festivities with Sangmo ma’am

Then, I used to wake up to the sound of the flowing river and see a river on the lap of a big hill from my room and sleep to the same sound which was my new companion. The barren hills with last rays of the sun and horses grazing on fields after the crops were harvested were some of the mesmerizing views on the way to the village. I tasted the milk of female yak for the first time today and it was delicious. I enjoyed walking in that lovely place with music of nature which gave the feeling of being on the lap of nature.

My beloved students, CMS

I went to Kalang village with few students after school. On the way there we ran, sang, talked to each other, saw blue sheep, and did fun things. We stopped for tea in the first house we saw after dusk and continued our journey in the moonlight. We made momo stuffed with smashed potatoes and spices. Early morning we went for a hike around the village. I must say it was very different Dashain this year; I went for kora- a religious hike around the mountains with my two students. All the villagers were busy harvesting the ‘Uwa’. On our hike, we saw shapes on rocks resembling a head, foot of a person, yak and other animals which are worshiped by Buddhist people with great respect. Each of us piled up small stones to make small houses which are believed to be the place for us after the death according to the local belief. I played with snow for the first time, I took snow on my hands, threw it high and enjoyed the snowfall. We reached the peak and ate ‘Lagoor- bread made from buckwheat’, with yogurt. Finally, the day came when I had to say goodbye to the place and the people with whom I had got so attached to in very short time.

Me being colored in the colors of Dolpo

Oh, what a remarkable experience it was! I miss all of my students and coworkers, villagers of Dho, Taakshi, Kalaang, Raamjo, the Dolpopas I met along the way and the beautiful Dolpa. My love and Taashi Delek to you all! I cannot wait to come back someday! Thank you Pawan Dhakal dai for the information about this opportunity.

Are you ready to have the best experience ever by volunteering at CMS?

Feel free to reach out to me with any questions!
Email: gathaadhikari@gmail.com

 

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New Passive Solar building construction in CMS

1With the help of grant received from the Dolpo Buddha Rural Municipality and District Education office, we are adding another passive solar building with four quite big rooms and two small store rooms. The construction work is in full swing and will finish within next week.

Unlike the previous two passive buildings, this one is built with better energy efficiency methods. All the inner walls are rammed earth which will act as a thermal heat bank and will maintain high temperature in winter during days and nights. As 30% of heat is said to be lost through roof in conventional buildings, we are putting heavy insulation on the roof. Since its quite complex to make double walls, we have built enough buffer rooms to serve as insulation for PSH rooms. Most importantly with the south facing orientation, we will add glasses (in a sloped down for better design)  to collect as much as solar radiation in the day and with double glazing the windows which will prevent 25% of heat loss though the windows.

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With these four rooms for classrooms, and two other PSH buildings for boarding students which we plan to build in a couple of years, we will gradually upgrade our school to higher secondary level and can run classes in winter more comfortably.

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Note: We acknowledge and thank Nistha Je who helped us with fine design.  

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Crystal Mountain School 2018 Curriculum

Planned by CMS 2018 Fellows in collaboration with Vision Dolpo staff

We plan to integrate ECA activities with the curriculum. The teaching method will be completely radical; however, theory parts and the curriculum of Nepal government will be covered holistically. We plan to provide the student with psychosomatic experience of learning. We will also be focusing on building interpersonal communication skills (English and Nepali) among the students. And to achieve our objectives we will be involving the students in :

  • Designing and conducting various DIY projects
  • Music Classes
  • Theatrical Performances
  • Experimenting with non musical instruments in creating music
  • Ensemble Classes
  • Science experiments
  • Using E-paath designed by OLE Nepal for learning and teaching
  • Using Raspberry Pi

ECA Curriculum for Academic Year 2018 (2075 B.S.)

MUSIC

Crystal Mountain Big Band

  • Rhythm Section
  1. Bass
  2. Drums (Madal, Cajon)
  3. Sound FX percussions( Murchunga, Shaker, Tambourine)
  4. Keyboard
  5. Guitar Accompaniment
  • Melody Instruments and Soloists
  1. Guitar
  2. Sitar
  3. Flute
  4. Sarod
  5. Keyboard
  • School Choir and Solo Vocalist

 Repertoire and Musical Elements

  • Drums
  1. Basic Western Rhythmic styles and foundations of Western drumming
  2. Gandharva Madal repertoire
  • Sound Fx Percussions
  1. Beat oriented accompaniment
  2. Ambient sound and effects
  • Keyboard
  1. Basic sight reading and sight singing
  2. Classical Western Tunes
  3. Nepali folk and local tunes
  • Guitar
  1. Sight reading and sight singing
  2. Fingerstyle/Classical and Jazz studies
  3. Blues and Rock music
  • Sarod
  1. Eastern Classical Music
  2. Local Nepali repertoire
  • Sitar
  1. Eastern Classical Music
  2. Local Nepali repertoire

ART AND CRAFTS

Colour Painting

  1. Introducing seven basic colours
  2. Basic ideas of colour gradients and the art of combining colours
  3. Mural Art

Sketch

  1. Introducing basic geometrical shapes. (Circle, Triangle, Rectangle, Cuboid, Cylinder, Cone, Pyramid)
  2. Imitating real life objects.
  3. Light-Shadow concept

Miscellaneous

  1. Origami

PHYSICAL TRAINING, SPORTS AND YOGA

  • Football
  • Yoga
  • Basic meditation
  • Physical Training
  • Fun Sports

Construction and DIY activities

  • Management of dry compost toilets
  • Water supply and plumbing
  • Greenhouse management
  • Carpenting works
  • Construction of new school building
  • Renovation of school playground
  • Music room insulation
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Crystal Mountain School 2018 Fellows

Our flagship fellowship program is off to a great start. Five enthusiastic teacher-musicians embarked today (April 10) on their 5 day journey to Crystal Mountain School with school and Vision Dolpo staff.

The fellows will be leading  a lot of exciting new activities at the school, including a comprehensive music program for our young students and a truly innovative science program designed to empower students to use local resources, plastic and other waste, and electronic and other hardware equipments to build DIY vacuum cleaners, toy cars and drones, and so much more!

Meet our first ever cohort of Crystal Mountain School Fellows

 

Here’s what the fellows have to say!

We plan to integrate ECA activities with the curriculum. The teaching method will be completely radical; however, theory parts and the curriculum of Nepal government will be covered holistically. We plan to provide the student with psychosomatic experience of learning. We will also be focusing on building interpersonal communication skills (English and Nepali) among the students. And to achieve our objectives we will be involving the students in :

  • Designing and conducting various DIY projects
  • Music Classes
  • Theatrical Performances
  • Experimenting with non musical instruments in creating music
  • Ensemble Classes
  • Science experiments
  • Using E-paath and E-pustakalaya designed by OLE Nepal for learning and teaching
  • Using Raspberry Pi  for graphical and musical programming

Click here for a quick overview of the curriculum designed by our fellows.

If you would also like to volunteer or apply for a fellowship and be a part of our team comprising of amazing local staff, fellows and teachers, you are still welcome to apply! Applications are open throughout the year and decisions are made on a rolling basis.