At 6:30am we arrived at the University for my first lecture to the counselling students of the University of Kathmandu. Their study day is from 6:30 to 9:30 as they all rush to work afterwards which left me with a strong feeling of how much we take for granted over here. Having been away to the mountains, it was nice to see their faces again and they felt strangely familiar, as if I had known them for a long time.
I lectured on working with special needs children and teenagers and they all seemed eager to learn what I was going to share. I had a sense they had some knowledge of the theme but welcomed the input I had which I had tried to contextualise to the Nepali reality. At the end they wrote their feedback which made me thing that something more experiential and specific case discussions would have been even more welcomed and more helpful. I will keep this in mind for the next time I go. It was a surprise to me to realise that I was already thinking when to go back. When I first arrived, I was sure it would-be one-off visit!
On the second day when I lectured on states of mind in adolescence a theme that I had again tried to contextualize to their reality, I felt they engaged with the learning more fully. The students are very young in general and I did wonder whether they might be still going through the process of fully becoming adults themselves. They gave a strong impression that they related personally with much of what I was saying.We had some reflective time on their own adolescence and what it was like to be in that place. It was reassuring to realise that the adolescent state of mind is very similar across cultures.
It was a bit disappointing for them that it was not possible to come back the next day for another lecture as we had to attend to other commitments but we finished with the promise of going back and perhaps to offer some online lecturers they could access. This is a plan that we are discussing with the IT volunteers at Unity in Health. I do hope this will be possible.
As we were leaving the lecture room we could see a small cupboard with books. The lack of necessary therapeutic resources lead me to leave the books I took to Nepal and prompted in me a wish to campaign to get more books on counselling and doing therapy with children and adolescents to ship to Nepal. I definitely feel we planted a seed to have specific training on child and adolescent counselling. We have had many discussions on how and what to include. One day these students who are now willing pioneers in the field will be the first clinical supervisors in the country. A very exciting idea!
At the end Professor Subba gave us a goodbye blue scarf and a sculpture of one of the Buddhist temples. The gesture felt really nice. Afterwards the students want to take a group picture with us which you can see below. I do hope this connection will not remain only as a photographic memory but a reminder there is much more to do in the months ahead.