Saturday, July 7, 2012

Saturday, July 7th, 2012

What a day!  We ran a "TT" tournament today at the PAHS dorms.  "TT" is slang for table tennis or ping pong.  TT seems to be a popular sport here in Nepal as we've seen many outdoor tables on our bus rides around the city.  The idea of running a TT tourney came about early this week while we were talking with some 1st batchers about what types of hobbies/leisure they like to engage in during their spare time and TT was brought about numerous times by both males and females.  We found this very interesting because our own student lounge at UBC lies a thoroughly used ping pong table.  Perhaps there's something about TT and medical students that is shared across the world?? Back to the tournament, we had only 1 table to work with at the dorms so we decided to organize a double's tourney that hosted men's, women's and co-ed brackets.  Considering the size of the venue, participation was modest but worked out well.  We had 10 men's teams, 7 co-ed teams and 4 women's teams.  All games were well-played and accompanied by sincere sportsmanship!  We also had a small turnout of ping pong fans who provided big crowd support!!  With only 1 table, there was a lot of lag time between games so we also played some volleyball and badminton on the side.  5 hours later, champions rose from each division: *enter drum roll* from the women's bracket our gracious winners were Srijukta and Rosa; from the co-ed bracket, the dynamic duo of Purnima and Bijay; and last but not least from the men's bracket, through a hard-fought final Abishkar and Nepolean were crowned champions!

Our prizes were a modest new pair of TT rackets and a set of TT balls.  We also brought "North American" snacks that included Oreos and Pringles which are undoubtedly part of a med student's nutritious diet (kidding)! Needless to say, the snacks were popular.  Champion and group photos were taken.  Check in for a photo update shortly.


Monday, June 25, 2012

Monday June 25th

This week we had the opportunity to sit on the PAHS students PBL sessions.  Leading up to the session we were all very curious to see what PBL would be like here at PAHS and whether it would be at all similar to the sessions at UBC. 

Interestingly, the sessions were very similar to those we have at home with only a few notable changes. Much like our sessions the students all sit at a common table with a tutor guiding the discussion. There are also several chalk boards mounted on the walls of the room to write up differentials and the infamous PBL learning issues.

One difference we all noticed about the PBL at PAHS is the way the students break apart the case and generate a differential.  Unlike at UBC where we tend to use the board space to draw problems webs and diagrams to develop a differential in a haphazard sort of way, the students at PAHS mainly discuss the different possibilities and then neatly organize this information into lists sorted into a variety of different columns.

It was very impressive to watch the student discuss the case material and work together in unison to solve the week’s case.  It was particularly impressive to watch the student present their learning issues in flawless, meticulous detail!


Sunday, June 24, 2012

Sunday June 24th

We had a great day today at PAHS! 

We decided to run a fun, cultural-exchange workshop on Bhangra dance.  UBC Medical School has a Bhangra Dance Team, and we were lucky enough to have the team choreographer, Supreet, here with us in Nepal.  Bhangra is the type of dance seen in Bollywood movies, so the students at PAHS were excited to both see us perform and to learn the dance routine. 

We started by showing the students the routine, then Supreet took the whole group through the dance, step-by-step.  It was amazing how quickly the PAHS students learned it!  (20 minutes vs. the 3 months it took us UBC students!)  After that, the students taught us some Nepali dance, and showed us some of the routines they performed at events earlier in the year.  We had a great time teaching and learning from one another.  It was a great bonding experience, and the students were having such a good time that it was hard to turn off the music, even though they had started to lock up the building for the night!  


Supreet teaching the group Bhangra!

Tuesday, June 19, 2012

Tuesday June 19th

Already on week 2, can't believe how quickly time is passing by! Nepal is never boring that's for sure. it is constantly stimulating all your senses: sights, sounds, smells and tastes. Over the past few weeks we've become quite accomplished at learning to cross the street, a skill that should not be belittled here in nepal as the many "vehicles" never seem to slow down and swerve impossibly in and out of traffic. We've also become better at drowning out the constant cacophony of noises that seems to follow us everywhere in the city.  A simple walk to school has proven to be a bit of a game, as we hop from incomplete side-walks to dirt mounds trying to avoid everything from garbage, sleeping dogs and rusty nails (so far in the past 2 weeks, only one rusty nail has managed to get us, thank goodness for the tetanus vaccine!).

We had our second set of workshops this week on wellness and time management in medical school. We chose to do this workshop based on the feedback we got from the students regarding wanting to hear about time management in medical school. We decided to throw in a wellness and healthy lifestyle section into the workshop and handed out apples to the students for answering questions! In our workshop we also included an example of a healthy Nepalese diet, which entailed Kate having to pronounce a number of Nepalese dishes, which the students found to be hilarious!! Based on student feedback, our workshop was a big success. The major problem we encountered was that the attendance wasn't as high as we expected (about 15 students for each class). The students reported after that they knew that their friends would have come but they didn't know about it because it wasn't on the schedule, and emails aren't a great way of communicating. Despite trying our best to get the workshops on their schedule we were not given permission and had to rely on communication through class announcements and emails which proved not to be good enough. We are currently trying to remediate this problem before our third set of workshops this week. We also are planning on repeating the wellness and time management workshop again this week for the students who may have wanted to come but missed it. 

We can't get over how keen and hardworking the students are and how much of an interest they show in our lives. Despite the students being close to exams, and us being a bit weary of planning too many activities for them because of this, we've had an overwhelming enthusiasm for our two events this week: Bhangra dancing and soccer at the local park!

All in all, we have been settling into life in Nepal quite nicely. Daily routines have become quite a comfort. Highlights include daily shopping at the local veggie market for fresh produce, yoga at a nearby studio and group workouts in our lovely courtyard. On our days off we've bargained our butts off at the Thamel market, breathed in the fresh mountain air of Nagarkot and fell in love with our sweet tour guide "Gopal from Nepal" in Chitwan. 


Sunday, June 17, 2012

Sunday June 17th

Time flies when you are living with six energetic medical students in a busy city with so many sites, sounds and smells you can feel the synapses in your brain firing frantically.
 I can’t believe it’s been one whole week since we arrived in Nepal. The six of us girls have settled in at our guest house and are enjoying interacting with the students at PAHS. There are 4 of us that just finished our first year of medical school at UBC: Stephanie, Heather, Lindsay and Skye, and two who are heading into third year in the Fall: Supreet and Kate.  Besides getting used to the heat and sounds of the busy city, we are also getting accustomed to the friendly and welcoming nature of everyone we have met so far here at PAHS.
We spent our first week here in Patan getting to know the students and faculty at PAHS, sitting in on some interesting lectures, scheduling our activities for the weeks to come and taking in the sites of Kathmandu. Feels like we fumbled our way through the first week and have started to scratch the surface on life in Nepal and what school is like for medical students here at PAHS.
Today Lindsay and I did our first workshop: Finding Reliable Resources Online. This is something that we have found challenging at times especially when looking for PBL learning issues.  Based on some preliminary surveying of the students, it seemed they too were hoping to learn more about this topic. After overcoming a few challenges in the scheduling department, the workshop ended up a success (based on feedback) as well as a good learning experience for our next workshops to come. Beyond the content, the students also told us they enjoyed the example we used with a famous Bollywood actor as well as the pictures of UBC, killer whales and sea otters to show them a little bit of “Vancouver.”
We have planned a number of workshops and activities for the weeks to come and I look forward to learning more about Nepal and getting to know the PAHS students! We will update again very soon.

Sunday, May 20, 2012

Sunday May 20th

Today is last day at the school before we go on a trek -- the past three weeks have flown by! It is also the most serious bandh yet. There is not a single car on the road, and on the way here we passed a burnt motorcycle. It's still not violent, just more severe restrictions. In the morning we were busy getting ready to leave, but in the afternoon we joined the students for lecture and did a presentation on study skills. Unfortunately the lecturer wasn't able to make it to class -- an example of how the bandhs are beginning to affect PAHS. Before the presentation the students were telling us how useful the last one on time management was, so hopefully this one was as helpful! It seemed like many of the students don't use any study strategies like pneumonics or flash cards. Something we have also noticed is that many of the students will just copy exactly from the textbook. During our presentation we really emphasized writing in your own words, or any way in which you can make the material your own. When we return from the trek we can see if the skills we presented worked for the students! 

Saturday May 19th

Today was the students day off so we decided to go to an orphanage called Sonrisa that Dr. Courneya has been involved in. It was us and 5 PAHS students that ended up making the trek over. The bandh that was scheduled for today luckily fizzled out, so we were able to take a microbus to the orphanage. We were welcomed by Bishnu, who helped start the orphanage. He runs a trekking company, but is involved in many other projects helping in communities in Nepal such as starting medical clinics in rural regions, in addition to the orphanage. He explained it to us that whenever he has the time he thinks of these kind of projects -- a really inspiring person to talk too. The orphanage ended up being one of our favorite places we have visited in Nepal. It seemed like it was giving as much as it could to the kids, from the students being able to go to dance or music before school, or having tutors to help with their homework after school. Since there were only 15 children ranging from 5-15, it had a really homey feel, something that seems like it might not be found in other orphanages that can have as many as 250 kids.

It also had a huge garden they have converted from the trash pile that was there when they moved in, which they can use to grow food for the orphanage or to sell to make money. When we first got there all the students introduced themselves, and then we did a presentation how, when, and why you should wash your hands and brush your teeth. 

After wards the students showed us their abundant talents in dancing and playing their instruments! Following the talent show we worked for 30 minutes in the garden by pulling weeds around the corn.

 Bishnu was very thankful, but it was the least we could do for letting us in their home and treating us as family. It was a great experience at the orphanage and by the time we left everyone wanted to somehow become involved there!