The whole volleyball tournament I put together for the students was a lie. I already knew which team was going to get the prize before I even established the teams. I knew from the very beginning that every team that participated was going to “win”. The tourney was just a giant ruse I used as an excuse to pump some much needed athletic competition into this school. I didn’t tell them that though. I wanted them to play to win. And after it was all said and done, I’d say it was a big success. The rivalries ran rampant between the older classes during the days where we didn’t play.
I also knew from the very beginning that I wanted to do something special for these kids. Volunteer teachers come and go here, but I wanted to make sure that I stood out. I wanted to be that one teacher, the students would never forget. Previous volunteer teachers have given to the school itself: a new computer, painted walls, even a new classroom. I donated money to the school to help setup a Wi-Fi connection, but that’s something I fear the students won’t even get any use out of at all. It’s mainly for the teachers–and what they will do with that is beyond me. So instead of donating something else to the school, I wanted to do something directly for the students. These students who go to school six days out of the week and spend a good chunk of their time at home doing homework and village chores. I wanted them to be a kid for a moment. And I thought throwing them a giant party they would never forget would do the trick.
I told Zahra all about the idea to throw a giant picnic/feast/party for the kids and she thought it was a great idea and thankfully I had her to help me set this up. We went down to the city center of Pokhara and to the supermarket. I wasn’t sure what I was looking for exactly but I had an idea. I knew I was going to purchase a lot so I emptied both my big and small backpacks and brought it with me to fill up. There were exactly 50 students who “won” the prize and that’s a whole lot of mouths to feed. The party isn’t for a few days still so I couldn’t buy anything cold because refrigerators don’t exist in the village. It would all have to be dry food. This was going to be harder than I imagined.
After a couple hours in the supermarket, I wound up with six 2.5 liters of party size pepsi bottles, 10 loaves of white bread, 4 jars of peanut butter, 4 jars of jam, 60 paper cups, 3 giant bags of chips, 2 tins full of cookies, a giant sack full of assorted sweets, and three cans of chicken sausages. It was a lot of stuff, but I still needed more! I went upstairs to the toy department looking for something I can explode in the air. Low and behold, there were bottles of silly string, canisters of snow spray and tubes of confetti and rose petals that burst in the air when you twisted them. I bought it all! The kids would love it!
The hardest part was lugging everything back up to the village. My bags were filled and super heavy. We also had to be careful not to squish the bread and not to crush the chips. We spent the evening before the party making 50 peanut butter and jam sandwiches. We took that and the rest of the supplies up to the school the next morning.
I asked grades 7, 8, and 9 to come down the terrace fields near the school as soon as seventh period starts. I found the perfect spot for the picnic party, along the bottom of a series of terraces, overlooking this portion of the mountain and Fewa Lake down below. The scenery was great, the weather was warm, and the sky was cloudless. I don’t think I could have found a better spot nearby. During sixth period, Zarah and I took all of our supplies down to the terrace and started to setup. We found a large rock that had a flat top that we used as our table to pour all the drinks.
Soon, we saw the students starting to make their way down to us, carrying the large speaker box the school uses every morning for their national anthem. I asked the students to bring it down to play music.
We handed each student a cup of pepsi and a sandwich. We had plenty of pop to spare for seconds and even thirds. I handed out a bag of chips to each grade and tossed the cookies to the crowd, along with the chicken sausages. After eating, I gathered all the students in a large group around, played the music which was upbeat club music the kids here listened to, and twisted some of the party tubes I bought until confetti exploded in the air and danced all around them. They really loved that!
As the music played, I handed Zahra one of my many bottles of silly string and told her “Do with this as you want!” Or in other words, spray the living $h!% out of the kids! As some were still eating or drinking or dancing, Zahra and I ran around the students and sprayed them all over the place in which they screamed like giddy little kids. The good kind of screams. Many of them wanted to try and spray for themselves but I knew they would try and spray me if I did that.
I also had bottles that sprayed “snow” in the air. I lifted up two bottles, pointed them into the sky, and let em rip!
Out came streams and clumps of white stuff which looked like soap suds. The kids really loved this part. They’ve never seen anything like it before!
After several minutes when the suds began to disappear, I stood on a platform with a sack full of candy and gathered all the students around.
I reached into the sack and pulled out a handful of sweets, chocolates, gums, and fruit flavored candies much to the kids amazement. I threw it up into the air over the crowd of school uniforms. They rose their hands in the air as if they were going to catch some! None of them did.
The candy fell all around them and as it happened, the kids buckled down to the ground, pushing, shoving towards the sugary treats. As they did that, I threw more and more candies into the air, in different spots. The kids were scattered all over the place, scrambling and lunging over the grass. I’m not sure who got how many of what, but I do know that everyone got something. I had bought a whole lot of candy to ensure everyone got something.
After the candy fest, I filled up the kids with more pop and started smearing extra peanut butter on their faces. That quickly backfired when they would smear it back onto my face! I smelled like peanut butter for the rest of the day, but all in good fun. We turned up the music louder and now that everyone was sugared up and in party mode, more dancing began within the girls while the boys played makeshift soccer with the empty cookie tins.
Everything was gone. All the drinks, the food, the sprays, the sweets, the explosives, all gone which was meant there was nothing to carry back up! I managed to gather all the students out for a giant group photo. These guys are great!
Time flew by and before we knew it, we heard the cowbell ring. School has been dismissed but these kids wanted to continue dancing among the terrace. As they did, rows of tiny school children looked on from way above. I felt a little bad that the rest of the students couldn’t experience this, but this wasn’t cheap! I could only manage to handle the older classes that I knew the best. Mina looked on and waved us to comeback. I think she needed the speaker back to lock up in the office. We all climbed back up the terraces. Zarah and I had large bags of trash in our hands going up the whole way while a group of students lugged up the heavy speaker.
The students told me how much fun they had and thanked me for such a great time. They haven’t been able to do something like that before.
“You all deserved it,” I told them.