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Volunteering in Nepal

Rose Bartels, BA Design student, received funding to volunteer at a school in Kathmandu, Nepal.

For my placement I travelled to Kathmandu, Nepal, to stay at the Nawa Asha Griha (NAG) School. I found the placement because this school is twinned with a school in Switzerland where a family friend works. This friend had visited Nepal on several occasions and recommended my sister and myself to the headmistress as potential volunteers for the school.

The view from our accommodation

Both my sister and I studied art subjects at university; therefore, it was suggested we would volunteer in the art department while at NAG. The school has 400 pupils, half of which live onsite full time and range in age from around 4 up to 18 years old. Previously I had a little bit of experience working with children, such as helping to run art workshops, but I had not worked with children in this capacity or on this scale before. Working with the kids was the biggest highlight for me and has helped me realise this is something I would like to pursue as a career.

It sounds cliché to say a trip abroad has changed your life, but the experience I gained in Nepal has helped me to get more work, in tutoring and nannying. And this helped me decide I would like to gain a TEFL qualification in order to teach English as a second language abroad for the foreseeable future.

My favourite moment was painting a mural to go in the children’s playhouse. Everyone, staff and students, wanted to get involved and it was lovely to see the kids’ reactions to what they had helped create and how it sparked their imaginations for play.

Painting the mural



I found the laid-back Nepalese culture quite different from the more structured days I was used to in the UK, especially the pace of living in London. Of course, we had a schedule for class times, but the start of the day, the times we ate and the activities we would do outside the classroom were usually decided a few hours before they happened. Everything was flexible and nothing seemed regimented. For me this was an interesting approach to life in general, but especially within a school environment.

Typical NAG breakfast of momos (left) and dhal bhat (right)

The biggest challenge was probably only being at the school for 2 weeks. I felt limited with what I could achieve in this time, as well as getting to know the staff and students. However, this did solidify my desire to return to NAG for a longer period and build on the relationships I started to form in the summer.

I was also shocked by the commonness of earthquakes while staying in Kathmandu. We experienced 2 small earthquakes in the 2 weeks we were there. As someone who has lived in Europe my whole life, earthquakes have never been a threat, but in Nepal taking precautions and safety measures in case of earthquakes is part of everyday life.


My main tip for finding a placement abroad and securing funding from Goldsmiths is to be organised. Keep all your forms and correspondence in one place and apply early as the communication between you and the host organisation will take a long time. You should also research the kind of Visa you will need thoroughly, and make sure it’s sorted before you travel.