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Updates

Updates on our projects and work in Nepal

We're looking for scholarship sponsors

Michelle Welsch

Learning House's Barista Training program is well underway, with our 4th batch now completing classes! Since our scholarship program is in high demand, we are actively looking for sponsors for students. Remember, your donation is tax deductible. 

CLICK HERE to support a deserving student from a low-income background. 

And follow us on Facebook for more community updates!

barista scholarship program

Pre-departure orientation program

Michelle Welsch

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Empower yourselves with a good education, then get out there and use that education to build a country worthy of your boundless promise.
— Michelle Obama
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Bobby is off to Canada....a civil engineer in the making! Sheetal is heading to Texas....an artist ready to take on the world!

They are getting on planes for the first time, and we did our best to prepare them for their journeys. 

We are so proud of these two leaders. 

Congratulations, Baristas!

Michelle Welsch

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Learning House's Barista Training Program is off to a great start! Classes combine theory and practice to give students knowledge of espresso drinks, the history of coffee, serving skills, and recipes for hot and cold beverages. We are so proud of the progress of our teachers and participants, and student reviews have been excellent.

Congrats, Sheetal!

Michelle Welsch

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Miss Sheetal is a local arts teacher and Learning House student who has actively participated in our leadership and education programs. She has recently been accepted to an American university and will be pursuing her bachelors degree in studio arts this fall. We couldn't be more proud of her efforts. Congrats, Sheetal Ji! 

Congrats to our new Coffee Baristas!

Michelle Welsch

Our first Coffee Baristas completed their training...

...and have started teaching other students! 

It's been fun watching our Baristas practice latte art and debate over the perfect espresso shot. And we love watching students gain confidence, too. We are so proud of their hard work!

To support the Barista Training program at Learning House, click here

Education Day

Michelle Welsch

On May 27, 2017, over 350 attendees participated in Pokhara's first Education Day. The Learning House did a fantastic job producing the event and with sponsorship from the U.S. Embassy and support from LevelNext, English language practice and advising sessions were offered to local students. Nepali band Lakshya performed midday, and attendees had the opportunity to speak with guests from Kathmandu, Canada, the United States and more. For event photos, click here.  

New training program at Learning House

Michelle Welsch

We at Learning House have been looking for more ways to support the students we serve.

The coffee scene is erupting in Nepal, and students are paying good money to participate in barista training. What if we could offer something similar, for less, for better? Our students are looking for part-time work and ways to save. What if we could prepare them with employable skills? What if they could start saving for college now?

Barisa training! Along with basic coffee and barista skills, we can teach business and entrepreneurship and hospitality. Students will gain confidence that will carry over to more than just a coffee shop. We found a local dealer who can provide a machine and all of its add-ons, service and warranty, and training for our staff. Our staff will then teach students for a fraction of the cost of other training programs. These classes and our small cafe will add to the income of Learning House and help keep student fees low.

We have launched a fundraiser to get this program started. Share, contribute, or send positive notes of encouragement. And with our 501c3 status, we qualify for matching donations from employers. Thanks for your support!

Thanks, FC Boulder!

Michelle Welsch

Thanks to FC Boulder for shipping donated soccer jerseys and clothes to the boys at Matepani! We think they look pretty sharp. 

We're building a new library!

Michelle Welsch

Construction is underway for the new library and computer resource center for Learning House. The room will offer study space, several computers, books and other materials for students to practice English and conduct research for education and employment opportunities. We can't wait to show you the finished product!  

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2016: Learning House by the numbers

Michelle Welsch

While we know numbers don't tell the full story --- the student who gained admission into college, the young woman who built confidence to learn English, the advisee who applied and was accepted for his first job, the job holder who scored high on his language proficiency test, the visitor whose life was changed --- we hope these figures can give you a glimpse into our work at Learning House. We are so proud of our team, students and volunteers for all of the time and energy they put forth on a daily basis. And of course, a very special thank you to our supporters near and far. We couldn't do this without you. 

Fun for little ones

Michelle Welsch

A first bus ride, a first trip, pizza, a movie ---- when you imagine life from a child's eye, the world comes alive. We were honored to take these youngsters to the tourist part of town and spoil them with pizza and a movie. Thanks to Ngawang, Sangpo, Sonam, Amrit, Bipin, and the staff of Movie Garden Nepal for helping bring big smiles to these precious faces! 

Bridging cultures through communication and travel

Michelle Welsch

Learning House has been welcoming guests for seminars and conversational English practice. Visitors are given the opportunity to better understand students and learn more about their backgrounds; students gain confidence conversing with native English speakers and are able to ask questions about specific areas of expertise. Email learninghousenepal@gmail.com if you're interested in encouraging students in Pokhara, Nepal. 

Big news

Michelle Welsch

We're filing paperwork and registering as a formal nonprofit! This is a big step for us and will allow us to receive larger donations from corporations and entities interested in tax credit. Many grant-awarding foundations look for 501c3 registration when considering worthy applications, so this will open up more opportunities for us. More grants and more funds means more ways to help students in Nepal. 

We're so excited for what the future holds. Thank you for supporting our work.

Join our Learning House family

Michelle Welsch

WE'RE GROWING!

Thanks to our volunteers, Learning House is thriving. Energetic and warm, these caring individuals are eager to help students do their best and succeed. Not only do our guests help students practice English, they assist our team with events and marketing efforts. We've found that each volunteer has a secret weapon, and we love seeing what they add to Learning House while they are visiting. 

Teacher Ngawang instructs conversational Nepali language and teaches cultural nuances. We want our volunteers to have skills and knowledge that enhance their time in Pokhara. And instead of spending money at a large hotel, we introduce our Nepali Amma (mother) who welcomes you into her home with open arms. 

If you'd like to experience a "different" side of Nepal, send us your resume and desired dates of travel. We'll get back to you with more information. Namaste and dhannyabad!

Matepani solar still going strong!

Michelle Welsch

Remember when we fundraised to bring light to Matepani? It still works!

We stopped by on April 2, 2016 for a visit. The monks continue to express deep gratitude for this incredible act of generosity. A hearty thank you to all those who supported this project! 

How do you find the right organization to volunteer with in Nepal?

Michelle Welsch

Travel and volunteer.

Explore the world, give back to a community, build relationships with locals and feel awesome doing it. 

Except there’s one problem. Scams! Certain volunteer programs charge hefty fees, and your hard-earned dollars don’t necessarily go to people who need it most. 

Since not every travel company has your best interests in mind, it’s worthwhile to ask a few questions before signing up for a volunteer vacation. 

Are certain skills or training required? 

Quality volunteer programs will ask for your resume or CV. Thoughtful organizations will want to use your talents and place you in a position that puts your expertise to use. Be weary of travel organizers who happily take your cash without asking you about YOU – your capabilities, experiences, preferences and expectations.

Is an orientation or language class offered?

Your volunteer-travel operator should give you basic cultural tips and language classes so you can be effective and respectful to the community you’re entering. Learning basics such as “Hello,” “Thank you” and “My name is…” can go a long way when you’re serving in another country.

What is the minimum time commitment?

If volunteer sessions are “open,” meaning you can come and go as you please, you might not have the same experience as with an organization that requires you to be on-site for a specified length of time. Also consider the work you’re wanting to do: Help teachers? Build homes? Paint fences? The two-week schedule your at-home boss has approved might sync perfectly with monsoon season or a community festival. Check local calendars for holidays and political events before booking airfare.

If something goes wrong, who should I contact?

If you’re stricken with an ailment or suddenly have to rush home, you need to know who to call. Is there a team leader or manager who can make necessary arrangements for you to get home? Will you be staying with a host family who can speak English? Do you have access to a 24/7 phone number? Even though you’re traveling to help, you want to make sure your needs are taken care of. Prepare for the worst, expect the best.

Where does my money go?

Although money can be an uncomfortable topic, don’t be afraid to ask! Dishing out cash without a clear understanding of a company’s framework may not contribute to the kind of sustainable development you had in mind when you imagined traveling overseas to volunteer. Reputable organizations won’t get their feathers ruffled if you ask about organization and hierarchy, and most non-profits make their annual numbers public.

Finally, if you don’t know, don’t be afraid to ask. Is important to understand the place you’re going and the work you’ll be doing. Research the company’s history or contact former volunteers to make sure you’re choosing the best option for you.

Bon voyage! 

A local's guide to Pokhara

Michelle Welsch

 Pokhara is what screensavers are made of: snowcapped peaks, glistening lakes, prayer flags kissing blue skies.

Pokhara is what screensavers are made of: snowcapped peaks, glistening lakes, prayer flags kissing blue skies.

 Morning view of Maccapuchhre (Fishtail) Mountain from Matepani Gumba

Morning view of Maccapuchhre (Fishtail) Mountain from Matepani Gumba

 Morning puja, Matepani Gumba

Morning puja, Matepani Gumba

 Fewa Tal, Lakeside

Fewa Tal, Lakeside

 Popular tourist attractions include Devi’s Falls and the “White Gumba,” a glistening pagoda perched on a hill overlooking Fewa Lake. 

Popular tourist attractions include Devi’s Falls and the “White Gumba,” a glistening pagoda perched on a hill overlooking Fewa Lake. 

 Pokhara's airport makes it easy for travelers to skip long bus rides and arrive from Kathmandu in less than thirty minutes.

Pokhara's airport makes it easy for travelers to skip long bus rides and arrive from Kathmandu in less than thirty minutes.

 Don't worry, your sweet tooth won't be ignored in Pokhara. Several bakeries serve cakes and freshly baked goods. Try The Cake Shop or Crossroads Cafe on New Road.  

Don't worry, your sweet tooth won't be ignored in Pokhara. Several bakeries serve cakes and freshly baked goods. Try The Cake Shop or Crossroads Cafe on New Road.  

 If you get sick of dal bhat, local pizzerias fire dough in wood-fueled ovens. I recommend the old Godfather's Pizzeria (there are two).

If you get sick of dal bhat, local pizzerias fire dough in wood-fueled ovens. I recommend the old Godfather's Pizzeria (there are two).

 Rainy day? Hunker down in one of the many cafes with a coffee or plate of Mo:Mo. Shown here: Cafe Aroma in Mahendrapool.

Rainy day? Hunker down in one of the many cafes with a coffee or plate of Mo:Mo. Shown here: Cafe Aroma in Mahendrapool.

 Feeling adventurous? Rent a motorbike and explore surrounding rice fields.

Feeling adventurous? Rent a motorbike and explore surrounding rice fields.

 Another fun activity: rent a bicycle and pedal to Pame. 

Another fun activity: rent a bicycle and pedal to Pame. 

 On the beaten track: International Mountain Museum. Off the beaten track: Bull riding.

On the beaten track: International Mountain Museum. Off the beaten track: Bull riding.

Morning in Pokhara.

Early risers climb the hill leading to Matepani Gumba where monks begin their first chants of the day. Across the valley in Lakeside, vacationers sleep off last night’s revelry, and trekkers slowly rouse before starting off on various treks throughout the Annapurna region. Others, with cameras strapped around their necks, file into taxis hoping to catch the famous golden rays of Sarankot's sunrise.

I’m sprinting up New Road.

Shopkeepers begin to roll open shutters, and the smell of freshly baked goods lures me and sweat-drenched Zumba enthusiasts away from morning exercise. I’ve made a game of overtaking groups of camouflaged-clad army trainees. They’re one-two-one-twoing in single file lines, and I’m flying past them. It’s Eye of the Tiger, except the tiger is carved out of snow on Machhapuchhre (Fishtail Mountain). And, let’s face it, these Laures-in-training are closer to Rocky than I’ll ever be.

Pokhara has it all.

The city earned its name from the many lakes dotting the area. Besides Begnas and Fewa, the Seti River cuts through town, a ribbon tying a gift made specifically for paragliders.

It’s no wonder so many families retire in Pokhara after working overseas. The hub city of Kaski and third largest urban area in Nepal, families migrate from hill communities to capitalize on the area’s economic opportunity.

The richest district in Nepal, Kaski is home to clusters of large homes and teenagers speeding down relatively clean streets on bikes. Locals often ask tourists which city they prefer – Kathmandu or Pokhara – and the answers are unanimous.

Like Kathmandu, Pokhara offers promise of opportunity in commerce, business and tourism.

But price of rent and market items can be a deterrent for many. Mirroring most areas in Nepal, the gap between rich and poor is evident. A few beggars have made Mahandrapool Bridge their home, blocks away from privately built mansion houses.

My friend Bimla runs a souvenir shop on the main road in Lakeside (across from Boomerang, if you want to find her).  She remembers early days of selling knickknacks to visitors. What was once a dappling of merchants has exploded into a line of restaurants, travel agencies, and shopkeepers bargaining with tourists hoping for a sale.

Ease of travel has helped create a jigsaw of hippies, vacationing Nepalis and hardworking locals.

Tourist buses run daily, some offering wifi and air conditioning for the more discerning travelers. Daring adventurers can hop into local microbuses to shave time and money off the overall journey from Kathmandu. And if you don’t want to spend hours inside a bus, the priciest option, air, can land you at Pokhara Airport in less than thirty minutes.

Because of this accessibility, Pokhara has become a holiday hot spot. Events such as Tihar, New Year, even Valentine’s Day are packed with Nepali and foreign visitors. Around these festivities, hotel prices rocket and streets fill with locals showing off fashion trends while wide-eyed tourists stumble beside them in trekking boots.

Mela, outdoor concerts, and events abound.

Every night of the week, live music drips as freely as alcohol from bars lining Fewa Tal. Many restaurants feature traditional dance shows, and if you have a favorite Kathmandu restaurant, chances are its twin is waiting for you in Pokhara (Trisara, Phat Kath, Himalayan Java). Busy Bee is a local staple; Nepalis and bideshi drink and smoke hookah while listening to cover songs from live rock bands. New friends stagger arm in arm to late night haunt Ozone and shimmy the night away. If you “overdo it,” don’t worry --- massage rooms and spas can rub away your tired feet (and hangover) the next day.

Those wanting a surge of adrenaline can find it.

Bungee jump, paraglide, skydive or stand-up paddleboard for added adventure. Families wobble in boats and paddle into the lake’s center to visit the Hindu Temple Tal Barahi. Buddhist monasteries house Nepali and Tibetan practitioners. Listen carefully and you’ll hear Gurung spoken or stumble upon a group of men in traditional dress heading for an archery tournament.

Visit Pokhara, but don’t spend all your time in Lakeside. 

Even if it’s only for a morning jog through the city, make your way to Chippledunga.

I’ll see you on New Road.