The Bridge Project aims to use storytelling and writing as a way to give under-served primary school children the tools they need to build their identities, their voice, fan their curiosity, and garner creative problem-solving skills that are necessary to empower them in an incredibly diversified educational system. The Nepalese education system follows the traditional three-tier sixteen year education system. The hallmarks often comprise of traditional methods such as rote learning (knowledge in the east customs was passed down orally), adhering to a very strict and somewhat narrow syllabi where the approaches towards problem-solving and writing are pre-defined in a dated structure.
For example even writing assignments follow the makeup of - introduction, three paragraphs for body, and conclusion – skipping out on original thought especially detrimental to cognitive development. The problem lay in drawing out their creativity in learning situations and their engagement - which was strongly embedded in their inner worlds - as children who are used to being placed within a box choosing to stay within it even when offered the absence of rules and structures.
The series of creative writing workshops conducted in Modern Indian School, Kathmandu look at using language and more importantly storytelling as a way to get the 7-12 age group engaged in the outside world by building a path through their inner worlds. Most of these students are under-represented social backgrounds, communities, families, and most were victims of the Nepal Earthqake loosing homes, parents, siblings and more. Developing their voices was a way of taking back control of their own narrative thus building their individual identities and potential. Language skills are some of the strongest tools that we have for integration, inspiration, and innovation it is also the way we can build real bridges between cultures and communities. Stories create the paths through which we can connect we can step into one another's world and perhaps along the way start to build compassion and kindness in an increasingly polarised world.
We all want to make a difference, to bring change, and sometimes this change starts at a grassroots level in small but steady ways, our job is to try!