We are a bunch of friends from different countries who've known each other for a decade now. Paragliding is what attracted us and brought us together, but the sheer beauty of the surroundings and the simplicity of the lives of the local mountain people here, is what made us stay. Nestled on the Dhauladhar Range in the Kangra Valley, our place is situated at 2250mts ASL with incredible views of the Himalayas. We are registered as a not-for-profit organization and intend to do several small projects with the locals here.
In the coming year, we are planning to work with an existing government school in a village called Jhatingdi in Himachal Pradesh. Although they do learn English at school, most kids don't land up speaking with confidence due to several factors. We have collaborated with the school to provide extra classes for spoken English. Gradually do various creative workshops. We start with kids from class 6 onward. The volunteer is expected to conduct classes on their own. They have to study the school syllabus and apply creative learning techniques which will help the students to speak with confidence.
Since it is a government school, it is free for all students. They even provide a mid-day meal for all staff and kids under a special scheme. However, the government does collect a small fee from each student as a formality.
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The immediate mission is to teach kids from class 6 onwards. Although we intend to start with the basics of spoken English, we soon want to expand to other subjects and run specialized practical workshops that give them exposure.
Trained English teachers with some experience in dealing with kids is our first preference. However, we're also open to hosting people who can teach other subjects to high school students - arts, music, science, math, etc.
The school is a 40 minute walk from the house, through a deodar and rhododendron forest. We also have a motorbike and bicycles, if you can ride up and down a dirt track. We have a local project lead who will help align with the school staff and kids. She will also plan the schedule and monitor the progress. Due to the nature of the task, we prefer volunteers who are willing to stay for longer periods. This way, the kids can develop some familiarity and comfort and hence progress.
Our place is a beautiful private house, situated on top of a mountain. Made with a lot of love by a bunch of us, it is made for community style living, comfortable enough to accommodate 10 people. We wake up to some incredible scenery of the Himalayas every day. It is situated right on top of a mountain ridge at 2250mts, with spectacular 360 degree views. During the paragliding season (Mar/Apr and Oct/Nov), we have many friends from many countries visiting us. Other times, its more peaceful. The house is powered with solar-panels and is off the grid. The winter can be harsh (we have snow for a couple of weeks every year), and its nice to load up on firewood and coffee at this time.
The house is a strange shaped structure, that is completely unplanned and still evolving. It's what Robin calls anarchitecture. We have a large common space, a breakfast/music room, the kitchen, the workshop, the bath/toilet complex, a couple of private rooms and a small terrace. The main common space in the house has 2 beds downstairs and a loft where 6-8 people can sleep comfortably. This is the area where the volunteers will live.
We have an amazing kitchen at our place, loaded with a gas burner, a tandoor and an oven. We cook simple Indian food on a daily basis. We do love experimenting from time to time and are very flexible with food. The volunteers are welcome to use the kitchen as they please. The school also provides a meal at mid-day.
There are many interesting things to do in this region. It depends on the season you are visiting.
- Sight-seeing: Some famous places close by (2-4 hours) are Bir, Dharamshala and Manali. There are many places to see and things to do around here.
- Paragliding: You get to do a cross-country tandem flight with one of us during the flying season. What better place to fly over mountains than the Himalayas. A must do!
- Trekking: There are many mountain paths leading to different villages. The entire area is so beautiful and the villagers, simple and welcoming.
- Fishing: The valley behind us has a river full of trout fish. You can trek down the mountain and come back up with fish for dinner.
- Music: We have a bunch of live music instruments, complete with amplifiers and all. However, our band sucks! So, musicians are always welcome.
- Besides this, we have WIFI, a ping-pong table, a mini library and some board games at home.
Limited internet access
We have pets
We are smokers
More than two
It is difficult to define the kind of learning one takes back from here. We are a motley crew, from different parts of the world... and this intermingling with the local people and landscape, is creating an interesting new paradigm, from which, we are all learning and benefiting. In fact, we're looking forward to your feedback on this! :)
Maximum 5 hours a day, 5 days a week
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