Teaching Traveling: Interested in traveling to Nepal? Curious about starting an education nonprofit? Do I have an interview for you!
Welcome to Theresa Cashman, a science teacher in the U.S. who has started an education program in Nepal. Theresa, tell us about your background.
Theresa: I’m a Connecticut native who has traveled quite a bit in my time as a teacher. I began in 2007 right after college and used every spring and summer break to explore a new place, typically outside the U.S.
In 2012, I traveled through South East Asia and Australia for about a year before settling in Sydney teaching 7th grade science. Now, I’ve moved back home and have begun a non-profit project in Nepal with SantiSchool.org to help improve the education of some amazing students I was blessed to have met!
TT: Tell us more about your Nepal travels.
T: I was lucky to join a study tour to Nepal with Seven Women on my way home from Australia. It was on this trip that I met Phurba Lama, a community activist, who shared an interest in improving education in rural Nepal. We’ve been working together ever since to spread the word and collect funds for our first project.
I found this country to be truly amazing! Kathmandu is a city of seven million people and zero stoplights. The culture there feels much more communal than in America, whether you’re in the city or our on a farm. I highly recommend visiting this amazing country, and if you’re interested in visiting our school, we’d be most honored to have you!
TT: How did you find this travel opportunity?
T: I discovered Seven Women through Melbourne’s Fair Trade Faire. Their goods (all handmade) were of very high quality and I was intrigued by the thought of getting to meet the women who had made them and hear some of their stories.
TT: How did you find the money to fund this travel?
T: My pattern seems to be: live like a pauper in order to save up for travel, then travel until I have to work again. I trust that I have marketable skills (even if that’s just being a native English speaker) and that I’ll find work when I need it.
TT: I love that strategy! And it seems to work well. Tell us one moment from your travels that was particularly powerful.
T: When I arrived at the school and was greeted with warm smiles and timid stares, I looked out at the truly awesome sight of the Himalayas from the doorway to the school, and I knew how special this place was.
I didn’t need to speak the language to see how hard these students worked to achieve an education, or how dedicated their teachers were to their success.
TT: How have your travels impacted you as a teacher, and in your current career?
T: Having come back to America, I can see now how desperately we need to change how teachers are viewed. Teachers do GOOD work in their profession, but often aren’t recognized, and are unfortunately often blamed for the failings of the education system as a whole.
I encourage everyone to keep fighting the good fight, and if you’re feeling burnt out, know that there are places you can go where you will be appreciated (you’ve just got to be brave enough to go there ;-)
TT: What advice do you have for teachers who are dreaming of travel, or travelers dreaming of teaching?
T: JUST DO IT. Pick a place, buy a flight, get a visa, and GO!
If you’re interested in visiting Nepal, our organization has a guest house set up for anyone who wants to visit to teach English, arts, or computer science, and get to know the Nepali culture. Please visit our website for more information on our first project!
TT: Thanks so much, Theresa! Readers, what questions or comments do you have?