RSIS Big Build - Nepal 2016 Blog

Update seven: 21st/22nd December

Departures

Students are now busy packing their bags in preparation for a busy day of departures. We wish everyone safe and pleasant journeys home, a very merry Christmas and a Happy New Year!

Student Blog Update: 20th December

"It was our final day on the work site, even though it felt like our first. Renee, being our day leader, woke everyone up at 7 O’clock for a busy day, starting with some fun warm-up games. There were a few more casualties in our human Cluedo, including a huge betrayal by Renee when she killed her own teammate, Kiva. Team CASSA now only has two members left standing.

After a delicious breakfast, which included purri, we got right to work at the site. Our duties included mixing cement, passing cement, passing bricks, and helping the builders lay the bricks. We made a great amount of progress today and felt very proud of our efforts. Everyone put in their all and did not forget to enjoy the moment with a few crazy moves to the Christmas music. The walls grew quickly and the building really took shape.

After a lovely lunch outside in the warm sun, we had a presentation from the ex-principal of the local school. He told us about the history of the town and school. He discussed the importance of our work and the impact it would have on the community.

We had one final push in the afternoon on the work site. With everyone in high spirits, we installed five of the six windows and completed two walls. We even had time to do a mannequin challenge, although the locals did not understand why we weren’t passing them “masala” (cement). In celebration of the completion of our project, we stayed a while to dance and take group photos.

We did a reflection on our trip before dinner, thinking about what we enjoyed, what we did not enjoy, and how this trip impacted us. After dinner, there was a special birthday celebration for Reyna, including a cake and a bonfire! At the bonfire, we all danced and sang to the music under the stars.

Our time here has been memorable and we are sorry to leave, but excited to arrive back in Kathmandu tomorrow for some shopping. We’ve met some incredible people from Nepal and hope that our contributions will be significant to them."

Written by Renee, Ethan, Gemma, Yannick, Micke, Amber, Bile, Kiva, and Nicole

Happy 16th Birthday Reyna!

The Team celebrated Reyna's 16th birthday with lots of much deserved cakes!

Happy 18th Birthday Gemma! (in advance)

Gemma's 18th birthday is on December 22nd, departures day.

"She will undoubtedly always remember this milestone with special memories." say Gemma's parents; "If it's not too late, I wonder if you could pass along a big Birthday Hello from her family at home in Toronto. She will be happy to know that we will have a white Christmas this year. We look forward to hearing all about her adventures in Nepal."

Update six: 19th December

Student Blog Update: Saturday 17th December

"We woke up at 7am; a lie-in compared to yesterday! After some tea we went on a small jog before playing sardines (backwards hide and seek) and a few other games. Breakfast was nutritious porridge, soft white bread, omelette and a variety of wonderful condiments.

Off to work we went, shovelling and finally seeing some development with the walls of the school. The day was named 'movement day', as sudden and vast visible progression took place. We broke for tea, sweet and hot, but also received some surprise popcorn which was a welcomed treat! After a little over an hour of work, the A team had prepared a fantastic traditional lunch – including sitting cross legged on the floor,being individually served, some incredible Nepalese prayer flag decorations and a Hindi grace. Lunch was bountiful and filling.

After lunch, energy levels were dropping on site. However, a small dance party broke out and immediately raised spirits. Having to work passed our usual hours, the afternoon was dragging on yet many pushed through and threw some intense shapes. Exhausted but happy, we returned to camp for dinner. Beautifully prepared chicken and rice with sauce was waiting for us, we gorged ourselves to contentment. After a quick debrief – and acknowledgments of our successes so far – we had some down time before an early night ready for yet another bright and early start.

Everyone sends love home and we all can’t wait to see what you got us for Christmas!

  • PS: Alexa says happy Hanukkah and hi to her dog.
  • Shout out to Dobber and Trace if you read this.
  • Amy2 says hi Mum/Mom! (Carruthers X Griggs = Amy2)
  • Nishika, Niharka di a very happy birthday - Kush
  • Dave, your daughter led her team well today – Ash."

Student Blog Update: Sunday 18th December

"This morning started a little differently with an early wake-up at 4:30am ready for our 5am departure for our culture experience and temple visit. Anushree had the fun job of making sure that everyone was awake on time ready to leave by 5am. While waiting for the bus, we remembered our adventures from yesterday when we met the little puppy named Hope. We found him lost on the street without his mother and tried to help him socialise with other puppies in the village. We were grateful for the experience which helped our group bond closer together. We left on two buses but the road was quite windy and a few people were feeling the effects of the bumps along the way.

Having reached the Buddhist Temple, including visiting the monk’s school, we enjoyed a nice tour given by Kunsang (whose brother had been taught at the school and had done some volunteer work there herself). The Temple was really colourful with beautiful Mandala paintings, engravings and materials of gods presenting the seven different beliefs of Buddhism. We were able to learn a little about the paintings by walking around the temple (clockwise) and hearing a speech by a monk about their beliefs. There were prayer flags all around the temple which we got to see when looking at the beautiful views all around.

On the bus trip back some of us were lucky enough to learn about Tollywood movies by viewing one in Hindi. It was very interesting and amusing (and a little hard to understand at times) but there were also wonderful views outside the bus coming down the mountain. We stopped for a quick break for tea and snacks, and arrived back at camp by about 11:30am.

For a change of scenery we set the tables up outside for lunch in a circle to represent the Round Square logo. Our lunch was delicious and the hot Nepalese sun was kissing our skin – a wonderful experience for all! After dishes we went off to the worksite where we encountered the lively atmosphere with people dancing with shovels in their hand. The classrooms are coming along in leaps and bounds, and today there were doors and floors being put into place. Many of us were helping with mixing and passing concrete, floor levelling, moving bricks and cutting rods. We have been very pleased with the progress we are making. A big thank-you to Round Square Member School, Chandbagh School for sending 50 students to help out on the worksite this morning while we were visiting the Namo Buddha Temple. The amount of work done today wouldn’t have been the same without them.

After amazing dinner and hot showers, we had our review on the day and talked about what would be happening for the next couple of days. This is our last chance to write the blog as a team for the trip so we would just like to say:

  • Claude would like to wish his sister best of luck in her exams, say hi to his little brother Carl and wish lots of love to Mum and Dad
  • Anoushree says happy birthday to Neel
  • Bhuvan wishes Kate the happiest birthday
  • And everyone is looking forward to seeing all their loved ones very soon"

Written by: John, Claude, Mira, Maggie, Aurelio, Milo, Bhuvan, Aziz, Anushree and Vicki

Student blog update: Monday 19th December

"As the sun rose over the mountains, the warm and comforting voice of our day’s leader, Felix, drifted over our tents allowing the team to awake to a peaceful morning, a rare commodity. After another stint of morning games and warm breakfast of porridge, eggs and pancakes, the team headed off to another morning of work.

Now the second to last day of work, our team has shoveled, bricked, cemented and dug our way to the competition of the school building. Today, we really started to see progress. The brick walls that seemed so detached started to form into a classroom before our eyes while the dirt floors were bricked in a mosaic and covered in concrete (a stage of completion the team had only dreamed of at the start).

After a delicious, carb-filled lunch, Team Tara skipped merrily off to the shops of the village, while the other teams went back down the hill to the work site. Our members raided the shops, desperate for the taste of sweets and chocolate, and even brought back a 2L bottle of Coke for our dear leader Felix who had stayed back at the worksite. It took the group a while to complete this seemingly simple task as we were repeatedly distracted by the abundance of puppies in the village.

Upon return to the campsite, Team Tara was blessed with some much needed down time. Basking under the sun, we read our books, completed some washing and relaxed. When the rest of the group walked back up the hill we all enjoyed a lovely supper.

From all of us here in Nepal- sending love back home.

Special mentions:

  • Happy Birthday Owetu from John.
  • Happy 18th Birthday to Josh from Amy."

Written by Reyna, James, Isabelle, Niki, Felix, Kunsang, Wamaitha, Deen and Scotty

Update five: 16th December

"Our arrival at Nagarkot brought a biting chill which sent us back to the buses to play cards as we awaited the sunrise. The hike commenced at 5:50 and with the beautiful views in mind we headed up to the viewpoint to admire for the first time the snowy tips of the Himalayas in the distance. As the sun rose we experienced yet another group bonding moment while the whole huddled together and took plenty of photos to commemorate the moment.

Upon arrival back at camp we took advantage of our rest day to relax catch up on lost sleep. Post lunch we spent plenty of time to clearing out our tents, swapping tent partners and washing our built up piles of dirty clothes.

The free afternoon gave us the perfect opportunity to gather up our bountiful gifts for the local children, families and workers. We were delighted to provide these donations and even more so after seeing the smiling faces of the excited kids. It was wonderful to see the impact that all of our fundraising at home to purchase these donations had on the community.

After another evening filled with games with the locals the smell of pizza for dinner was truly welcomed by all.

This well-deserved rest day provided us with a much needed break to revitalise us for our last four days of hard work on site."

Written by Olivia, Lauren, Aditiya, Tilly, Jessica, Sam, Bernie, Gonste, Sara, Iulia

Update four: 15th December

"The project is going amazingly. We have such wonderful students who have joined us as a true team. They are working so hard on this project; I've never seen so much cement mixed, bricks moved and earth turned." Emma Rhodes, Round Square  Conference and Projects Manager.

Student Blog Update: 13th December

"What a wonderful day we had today! It was very chilly this morning, but nothing that a nice cup of tea didn’t fix when we got up. Some of us even got them delivered to our tents!

We are all taking turns to help out and be leaders for the day. Today was our turn, and part of our role was to help prepare and serve lunch and dinner, keep the campsite clean and organised, do the dishes at the end of the meals, etc. When doing the dishes this evening we got some delicious ginger and honey tea which was a lovely treat (although some of our hands smell like ginger and garlic now!)

We had a great afternoon when we got back from the worksite, and the kids of the village came out to say hi and play with all of us. We started off with a little bit of badminton and cricket and ended off with a bit of Duck, Duck, Goose and hackey sack.

Nicole’s group went to visit the timber mill and the local high school. While everyone else was working hard with digging up the floor of the new school to make it level. We all used stakes, axes and shovels, which at times was tedious but we are proud of all the work we have done. There was heaps of digging and making masala chains (concrete chains) to pass things around quickly.

After a hard day working we created a massage chain where everyone got a back rub! Some of us washed our clothes using tubs and the day was topped by John who did a wonderful job at serving meals by claiming that we are running the “Only 5 star restaurant in the village”.

Happy 1st wedding Anniversary Mum and Brad from Milo."

Written by Maggie, Mira, Milo, Anushree, Aurelio, Aziz, John, Claude and Bhuvan

Student Blog Update: 14th December

"Today Team Tara (meaning 'Stars' in Nepali) had their time to shine. The chill of the morning was met with the daily warm up routine. The team took the group on a work-out including stretching, skipping and running. This was followed by the usual (very weird) games provided by the leaders, most of which we won. Go team Tara!!

After the morning chill had past we headed to breakfast where we quickly realized staples such as peanut butter and ketchup were running dangerously low. Finishing up breakfast, the team trooped off down the dusty road to the worksite for the day. After a quick briefing we got to work: mixing cement, scooping dirt and leveling the soon-to-be classroom floors (all well practiced trades for our squad by now). Jamming to the stereo, the work was pleasantly interrupted by our awfully executed flash mob to Walk Like an Egyptian (#James).

While the other groups headed back to the worksite after a lovely lunch, we headed to the high school for the pleasure of spending time with the village teenagers. Our crew blended into the friendship groups of various classrooms- chatting, gossiping and laughing. Some of us even attempted poorly to learn the complex (at least for us) language of the Nepali people.

Upon return to our camp, Team Tara re-joined the others just in time for the soccer match of the century. In a hotly anticipated affair, the Nepalese hosted Round Square. Both teams traded shots at either end, resulting in a victorious win for Round Square and a score line of two- nil.

The day was concluded with mo-mos for dinner, a fan favourite, and then an entertaining dance performance by some of the unexpectedly talented members of our group, organized by the Nepali people. After their performance we got to get in and, however awkwardly, express ourselves in our own improvised dance moves (if you can call it dancing).

Now the moon is high overhead, we will head off into our tents for the night and rest well knowing we did a job well done. Wishing all back home a relaxing night."

Written by Reyna, James, Isabelle, Niki, Felix, Kunsang, Wamaitha, Deen and Scotty

Student Blog Update: 15th December

"Our fearless student leader today was Yannick, who took us on a different scenic route. On the way to our destination we passed several cows and a religious ceremony performed by the local people. We got to a secluded field where we did our regular morning stretches. We then continued single-file along a narrow path, back past the ceremony and cows, accompanied by a local dog back to our camp site.

The morning games were the worst ever (just kidding) but no really, the first game was terrible, it was a crab walk race that left us dusty but grateful that Team CASSA finished first. The games slowly started to improve as we learned a lot about our team mates with a categories game, followed by a feisty and highly energetic game of tag.

Pancakes! It was a great breakfast, and the peanut butter was refilled, bonus! During breakfast Adult Deputy Project Leader Vicki introduced the team to an exciting game of Human Cluedo. Everyone drew a team member, a location, and a “murder” weapon out of a hat. The goal, to 'off ' the teammate and avoid being killed yourself. For example, Micke was close to her third kill when Ethan (who we all trusted) tricked Micke into thinking she had a duty to perform and killed her when she touched “a bracelet” while “standing near Paul”. After dinner tonight there were 12 'dead' and 35 still standing.

At the work site, we finished the foundations and began work on the columns. We spent most of the day moving rocks, mixing cement, and passing bricks, broken up by groovy dancing. Some of the highlights were the community coming out to help us on the work site and getting to jam to Ice Ice Baby. We stuck it out on the site for an extra 30 minutes this afternoon in order to finish the cement.

The A-Team went to visit the local school. They spent 40 minutes playing with students in their classrooms, teaching a computer science lesson, and chatting with the local kids.

Students from the local school and area visited again this evening to share traditional Nepali music and dancing. There was an opportunity for them to teach us some of their dance moves and we had lots of fun.

We ended the evening with a delicious meal of pasta, samosas, mushroom soup, and bell peppers (aka capsicum). It’s an early bedtime, as we leave at 4AM to go up the mountain in time to see the sun rise over the Himalayas."

Written by Team CASSA: Ethan, Renee, Bile, Amber, Gemma, Yannick, Kiva, Micke, and Nicole

Update three: 13th December

Student Blog Update: 10th December

"Namaste! Greetings and welcome from Nepal.

“Hey, where are you from? What is your name? Are you Australian?”

The ice broke really easily with all the students. We didn’t have a proper ice breaker session because we were all arriving at different times, and moving into different rooms, but we found each other. We gathered on the roof in the beautiful sunshine, with a beautiful view of Thamel, and lots of new friends to make. Some of us had one to one interviews with our team leaders, and some of us are still to go. Depending on when we arrived, we had some lunch and dinner, had a little look around town, and made plenty of new friends from all places around the world.

Everyone loved 'momos'! Our first dinner with nearly everyone involved delicious momos which many of us know as dumplings or gyozas. There was lots of chatter and getting to know everyone, and although tired, there were many interesting conversations to be had. Saturday morning we went through different safety and expectation information, including risk assessments, spotting lemons, and confirming our own rules under the traffic light system. We made up some funny rules about high fives, singing on the worksite and what happens if we all forget something.

The steps – 365 going on 500! That’s right – our visit to the Monkey Temple was a good work out for our legs. It felt like a lot more. But boy, was the view worth it. Each one was a step towards a wonderful experience. Full of monkeys running around like a zoo. Colourful prayer flags, souvenir shops, mandala paintings. We learnt about the Buddhist way of life, and about the years of art training it takes to be a master in Nepalese art.

The Chandbagh School principal (Round Square Member School in Nepal) spoke to us about the 2015 earthquake – 138 people from his school were affected and are still affected. We saw photos and learned about all the work that members of the public have been doing to help the people of Nepal. We saw photos of how our village where we will be building will be affected. It was very powerful and many of us could barely speak because we were so touched by the presentation.

It was Felix’s birthday today, celebrated by dancing, clapping, a delicious dinner, cake and ice cream.

Our words to describe the first two days are: amazing, g’day mate, different, happiness and diversity, together, I don’t really know – undefined, exhilarating, experience.

Just the beginning of the experience, more to come. We hope that it continues of this. There are 50 thousand more memories like this to come. 'Dhanyebad' (Thank-you) for reading!"

Student Blog Update: 11th December

"Eager for the big day ahead, today began with breakfast at a local restaurant and our preparation for departure for the village. We loaded our bags onto the buses and headed off on a two-hour bumpy bus ride filled with scenic views of rice paddies and brick-making workshops. We definitely gained an understanding of the nature of Nepalese traffic when our vivacious driver performed a three point turn in the middle of a highway.

Upon arrival at the village we were welcomed by a crowd of local students, staff and officials who adorned us with flower chains and applied tikkas to our foreheads. We absorbed our beautiful surroundings and after a briefing were given the opportunity to see the temporary classrooms provided by US aid and Oxfam that we will be working to replace. The passion and willingness to learn exhibited by the students was heartening and we were thrilled to find that despite their lack of supplies they were studying English and maths, even simultaneous equations.

After our busy morning, a lunch consisting of roti, wedges and salad was greatly appreciated by all students and staff and provided us with a glimpse of the delicious food to come in the days ahead. Shortly after, we were given the building instruction on brick-laying that would quite literally lay the foundations for the construction ahead.

Our afternoon was filled with playing football locals and playing games and chatting together; we are really beginning to see the wonderful bonds that we will form on this project.

We were also introduced to the program of duties that each group would perform on assigned days. These duties include scheduling, dinner preparation, washing up, toilet cleaning and writing the daily blog. Although these may seem somewhat arduous at the time, it’s great to help out the cooking team and a wonderful opportunity to bond with your fellow group members.

Our day concluded with a warming dinner of tomato soup, rice, dahl and vegetable and chicken curry followed by some free-time for showers and chats before we headed off to our tents for bed. After this initial glimpse of our life while on the project site, we are all excited for the days ahead."

Student Blog Update: 12th December

"We woke up at 7am this morning, had a cup of tea in the chilly air, and then did our morning warm up. This involved 500 team squats, team activities, stretches and games. We had breakfast of eggs, toast, porridge and then started getting ready for the day.

We checked in with our leaders and each team had decided on a leader for the day, who would help the main leader of the whole group with all of the activities. We gathered with our equipment to head to the sight.

Immediately, we realized we had a lot of work to do. While the other groups started on their tasks, our group went about setting up the toilet to use at the build sight. Other groups worked on mixing cement, laying bricks, and filling in the sides of the trenches with dirt. After a productive hour and a half, we stopped for a morning tea break. Biscuits and tea were provided and they were delicious! We then rotated roles and continued to work hard as the sun rose and shone brightly on us. No worries- no one forgot sunscreen or a hat.

We broke for lunch at 12:30, which allowed us to go back up to the camp site, and enjoy a scrumptious meal of potatoes, bread, salami, cheese, and potato masala. At lunch, we were happy but when we stood up we found that we were sore from all the manual labour- first day aches. All in all, we were fatigued but satisfied.

One group was in charge of washing dishes after lunch, another group went to the temporary school, and the rest of the groups went back to the project site. After another two hours of hard work, we came back to the camp site at quarter past three, just in time to see a culturally enriching presentation of singing and dancing, performed by young members of the school, -special mention to team member James Le Mottee, for wowing us all with a beautiful and cultural Australian dance. The soiree was rounded off with an excellent display of unity by the Round Square members, with their rousing rendition of John Legend’s “All of Me”.

After that, we had some free time when we washed up and got ready for our amazing dinner, which consisted of pasta, curry, green beans, and samosas. Special Round Square 50 years anniversary badges were given at the end of dinner to one outstanding member of each group for exemplary spirit, leadership, and work on the job site. One of the groups headed off to wash the dishes, and an entertaining evening of many different card games was enjoyed by the rest. The day was brought to a close by an early bedtime."

Update two: 10th December

Arrivals Day, Friday 9th December

Students were welcomed to Nepal throughout the day by our friendly team of Adult Leaders; including Ash from Scotch College, Iulia from Transylvania College, Scott and Vicki from St Philip's College, Nicole from Providence Day School and Emma from the Round Square Worldwide Management Team.

Everyone is now spending the day resting after long flights and getting to know each other.

Our first ever Big Build team consists of students from schools across the Round Square network including: Aiglon, Appleby College, Bayview Glen, Bridge House School, Brookhouse School, Bunbury Cathedral Grammar School, Chittagong Grammar School, Glenlyon Norfolk School, Gordonstoun School, Indian School al Ghubra, Ivanhoe Grammar School, Lakefield College School, Mayo College, Roedean School, Schule Schloss Salem, Scotch College, St. Clement's School, St. Cyprian's School, St George's Diocesan School, Stiftung Louisenlund, The Armidale School, Transylvania College, Vivek High School, Wellington College, Westminster School and Woodleigh School.

Happy Birthday Felix

Round Square and the entire RSIS Big Build Team would like to wish Felix a very happy birthday. The team spent the evening enjoying a special birthday meal and getting to know each other. Nothing brings a groups together like busting some dance moves and eating cake!

Saturday 10th December

The team have been enjoying their first taste of Nepal.

The Headteacher from local Round Round Square Member School, Chandbagh, visited the team as part of their induction. He gave a wonderful presentation and students asked lots of questions about the area they will be working in.

Update one: September

Welcome

Welcome, to the RSIS Big Build Nepal 2016 team blog. We will keep you up to date with the team’s progress as they undertake this amazing life experience. We will email you periodically throughout the project with updates and links to the blog.

Mobile/cell phones

Just a reminder that students are not permitted to use their mobile/cell phones while on the trip.

In case of emergency

Round Square operates a 24-hour on call service. In the unlikely case of an emergency the project team will notify the on-call team immediately who will then notify parents with full details.

Feeling inspired?

If this blog has inspired you why not register for our next Round Square International Service Project? Visit our website to find out more about our upcoming projects and get involved: