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Project Nepal

This is IICS’ first (currently only) community and service project that travels overseas. This project was awarded the ECIS Peter Ustinov Outreach Grant in 2012 and the TIECare International Community Service Award in 2013 to further the good work we are doing there.

Project Nepal





IICS students travel to Nepal in April to teach classes at Panchakanya Primary School, a poor school in the village of Jambu, Nepal, with approximately 60 students ages 3-10. Our IICS students who travel there must develop their own lesson plans and resources to teach English, math, art, music, sports, and science to the Panchakanya students. IICS students receive lessons in classroom management and lesson planning by IICS teachers.

Students are not required to travel if they are part of this project; they still participate in our awareness building and fund raising activities. 

From October through April the traveling and non-traveling Project Nepal students raise awareness and raise funds for a physical improvement project there each year.

While in Nepal we also do cultural tours and outdoor challenges like hiking, camping, rafting, rappelling, and canyoning.

The IICS PTA has been very generous in supporting our outreach with matching funds of $3000 in 2011. For the first 3 years the Booster Club has generously donated IICS tshirts for all the Nepali students, too!

In previous years we have made the following improvements for the Panchakanya school:

  • helped to fund the construction of a new school building (first floor has been completed);
  • installed three computers with internet and webcams;
  • donated three netbooks to expand the IT program for students;
  • did vision testing and distributed eyeglasses to the adults of the village;
  • brought them 90 pairs of children’s shoes;
  • brought school, sports, music, and art supplies;
  • and provided basic hygiene products to the students (toothbrushes, toothpaste, and soap).


We continue to help Panchakanya finish the second story of their school and provided teacher training to Panchakanya and other Jambu village schools to help them motivate students with inquiry-based teaching methods.  

Advisors:  Ms. Gokmen and  Ms. Holland

Project Background

This incredible project was sparked by inspirational visit by Peter Dalglish in May 2009.

• May 2009 Peter Dalglish, founder of Street Kids International, visits IICS to encourage students to volunteer in Nepal. 

• July 2009 IICS student Vidal Meric travels solo to Nepal for 8 weeks, teaching school to 88 students in a remote mountain village.


• August 2009 Vidal returns and shares his amazing experiences with the IICS community.
• November 2009 Peter returns to IICS, talks with students, gives Speaker Series presentation to the Istanbul expat community.
• Summer 2010 Vidal takes a gap year after graduating and returns to Nepal for 8 months, facilitating international school outreach projects.

• April 2011 IICS organizes its first student community service trip abroad to Nepal, facilitated by Himalayan Voluntourism and Vidal. Ten students, two parents, one IICS staff member. 

• October 2011 Project Nepal Coordinator Jennifer Gokmen returns to Nepal to check on the project and meet with the Jambu community.

• April 2012 IICS organizes its second student community service trip abroad to Nepal. Six students, one parent, one IICS staff member. 

• November 2012 IICS Project Nepal wins the ECIS Peter Ustinov Outreach Grant to further the good work we are doing

• April 2013 As a result of the ECIS Peter Ustinov Outreach Grant, Project Nepal Coordinators Jennifer Gokmen & Monique Sweep conduct a teacher training in Jambu, Nepal for 11 village schools and make a documentary of it.

• October 2013 IICS organizes its third student community service trip abroad to Nepal. Ten students, one parent, three IICS staff members.

• October 2014 Due to the success of our 2013 Teacher Training,IICS Nepali partners Himalayan Voluntourism wins an international grant to bring teachers from three villages to Istanbul for advanced teacher training in inquiry based methods. 

• February 2015 IICS organizes its fourth student community service trip abroad to Nepal. Six students and three IICS staff members.



2001-11 Trip
The 2011 trip was a team of 10 students, two parents, and one IICS staff member. We raised $6000 for the start of a new school building to allow the school to expand to 8th grade so that the stuents didn't have to leave school at 5th grade, as many of them did since their parents could not afford boarding school. The IICS PTA contributed half of the funds raised. The Booster Club provided approximately 70 tshirts for the Panchakanya students and we also brought 90 pair of (used) children's shoes following a student-led shoe drive. 



IICS students taught English, math, art, music, and sports. We also engaged in outdoor challenge (trekking and canyoning) as well as cultural touring. 

2011-12 Trip
The 2012 trip was a team of 6 students, one parent, and one IICS staff member. We raised $2000 for the purchase and installation of three computers, webcams, and an ADSL internet connection. The Booster Club provided approximately 70 tshirts for the Panchakanya students and we also brought 30 pair of eyeglasses for a vision clinic run by our parent chaperone. We provided basic hygiene products to the students (toothbrushes, toothpaste, and soap). We also had a pen pal activity between IICS grades 3 and 4 and the Panchakanya students. IICS students taught English, math, art, music, and sports. We also engaged in outdoor challenge (trekking and canyoning) as well as cultural touring. 


 We hosted a visit from our Nepali facilitator, Himalayan Voluntourism founder Prabin Gautam, and held an information session for other schools and organizations to encourage them to consider developing their own program in Nepal. 



2012-13 Trip

Due to unforseen circumstances, there wasn't a student trip to Nepal in 2013, so we went and conducted a teacher training instead.

Despite no trip in the 2012-2013 school year, the Project Nepal group students raised funds via their successful International Day booth games, a hilarious Pie Toss, and through donations from some very generous parents. We raised $2500 towards the physical improvement project this year, which is to help fund the ongoing construction on the new school building we helped begin in 2011. 

In April 2013 Project Nepal Coordinators visited Jambu to conduct the teacher training outlined by the ECIS Peter Ustinov Outreach Grant, in which 11 Jambu area village schools came to Panchakanya Primary School for a workshop on IB inquiry-based teaching strategies.

The Project Team is actively seeking to expand Project Nepal to make an annual teacher training event as well as a student trip, during different school breaks. 



2013-14 Trip

We had an incredible time on the October 2013 trip! Ten students, one parent, and three IICS staff members participated this year. For our physical improvement project we donated three netbooks to Panchakanya to expand their IT offerings. We have moved the trip earlier in the school year so that Project Nepal students start the year with a deep connection to the project. Having already visited and become part of the Jambu community has made their community service efforts through the year more meaningful for them already. They already personally know the community they are working to help. We expect this change to have a profound impact on the future of our project.

Already, Maria D. prepared a table at International Day. With the help of Daniela C. they sold beautiful photoblocks of Maria's photography from the trip, raising quite a bit of money.

Daniela has made an instructional video for making origami frogs. the video serves as both an art activity and an English lesson. It will be an excellent resource that we will load to youtube/vimeo and also load directly to Panchakanya's computers on the next visit.

Daniel A. is nearly finished with his documentary of the trip, which we will promote on multiple channels once released.

Students are now planning a HOLI FESTIVAL as a fundraiser. Details coming.

Grade 3 will soon begin their Nepali hat sale, which will raise funds to help support tuition for a Turkish school girl. The purchase of those hats from Kathmandu also supports Nepali village womens'  micro-entrepreneurial efforts. 





2014-15 Trip

We had another incredible trip in February 2015. Even though it was our fifth time traveling there as IICS, there were a number of firsts on this trip. It was the first time we had such young volunteers (Milli and Talulah, grades 3 and 5), primarily because it was the first time we had our Head of School on the trip (Ms. Thompson). In fact it was the first time we had a whole family join the trip, because Mr. Burns came, too! It was also the first time we had a student join the trip two years in a row (bravo, Jong Ho!). It was the first time we had student volunteers who had worked previously in poverty striken countries (Rehwandi). It was the first time we had language triangles, with Bilal speaking Urdu with Nawang and Nawang speaking Chinese with Ho. It was the first time we were invited to visit the house of Panchakanya’s principal, Ramesh Kaji, where we were treated like royalty. It was the first time we has a baby monkey hanging out with us (literally) at Panchakanya. His name was Nuri. And it was the first time we got to take the group to Nargakot as well.

Prior to our February trip, we also had a visit from our Nepali friends IN ISTANBUL! October 21-24 IICS hosted a group of Nepalese teachers and social outreach pioneers as an extension of its Project Nepal. Our Project Nepal began as a Secondary School outreach trip and its annual success has allowed the program to grow to include a Teacher Training Trip for faculty as well.During this visit to Istanbul, three teachers from different towns in rural Nepal (Jambu, Nargakot, and Bandipur) received inquiry-based teacher training and participated in classroom observations to help them learn creative techniques to infuse their own classrooms with the kind of energy IICS classrooms have.

This visit by our Nepalese partners was an opportunity not only to share techniques with other communities, it was also an opportunity for our students to benefit from meeting some impressive changemakers. The Director of the Jane Goodall Institute Nepal and the Director of Himalayan Voluntourism spoke to Grades 7, 8, 9, and 10 individually and had discussions about identifying and following your passion and what it means to lead an authentic life.  Meeting people not much older than themselves who have made the kinds of strides they have to improve the world helps our children understand that such things are within reach if that kind of global citizenry is the path they choose.



Culture & Outdoor Challenge
The emotional and mental challenge of teaching and volunteering is well balanced by the physical challenge of outdoor adventure and enriched by the cultural touring we do while in country. 






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