We were tired and jet-lagged when we arrived in McLeod Ganj after our journey from Southern Ireland, but awoke the next morning to the surprise of warm, bright sunshine, gleaming on the snow-covered peaks, as we opened the curtains to see our home for the next eight weeks. The forested landscape is reminiscent of Italy, or Greece…pastel coloured houses of various shapes and sizes nestling into precarious looking nooks and crannies on the hillsides…solar energy is in evidence and prayer flags stretch between trees and houses, like ancient laundry, long forgotten.
We have been interested to see how the Tibetan and Indian cultures seem to complement each other in the most practical ways: where there is a day to day need which could provide employment, someone has set about doing it, and tiny businesses seem to thrive.
Lha has made us very welcome, making sure we were happy with our accommodation, taking us to places of cultural interest, advising us, and making helpful suggestions. Our job is to teach English to the beginner’s class. We were both teachers back home in Ireland, but this would be very different so we decided to pair-teach our class as it not only gave us confidence, but also gave us double the brain power – always good for both ideas and preparation! This works well in the classroom as there is always one of us free to help, one to one, while the other is directing the topic.
Our students vary daily, but are all highly motivated, bright and cheerful, and very responsive. Their reading and writing skills are very good, so we try to capitalise on every opportunity for spoken English, which is their main need and goal. We work on everyday topics, using all their skills whilst engaging them in conversations and discussions which can get very animated. Some students are fairly confident and a few are quite shy, but a lively, fun atmosphere seems to bring enjoyment and learning to our new friends…and to both of us also.
After just a week’s teaching we have been deeply touched by the plight of the Tibetan people, by the way they have formed a happy and successful community here, in spite of their continued awareness of the sad situation they have left behind, by the warmth and welcome of their friendliness, and their never-ending appreciation.
This wonderful experience will remain with us for the rest of our lives, as will those beautiful smiling faces which greet us each morning in class and on the streets as we browse this hustle and bustle that has become our home.
By Eddie Quinn and Annie Wood