Children in Catterick are enjoying a taste of Nepalese culture and language with regular meet-ups in the garrison.
Neil Brimer, Community Development Worker (CDW), and Radha Gurung, Gurkha Support Worker (GSW), have been delivering a Nepalese culture club since 2011. The club isn’t just for children with Nepali parents but for any young person who wants to learn more about the culture and language.
The initial idea was born out of conversations between Radha, Laxmi Sharma (GSW York) and the community.
They talked to Nepalese families and the Gurkha chain of command and identified how to expand it to the Catterick community.
They found that many of the Nepali children born and educated in the UK struggled to connect to their culture and language. They had travelled to Nepal with their parents to visit family, but found it difficult to follow conversations and communicate with their grandparents.
Techniques include teaching young people the consonants and vowel equivalents and using these to create simple words, and learning about Nepali numbers by doing maths problems.
Neil says: “I don’t come from a language teaching background but the techniques and skills shared with children and young people from the age of six means they quickly pick it up.
“The programme is well designed and implemented – it’s a project that’s welcomed me in so that I can play an important part in supporting those children and young people, even though I’m a non-Nepali speaker.”
Feedback from Nepali families is very positive and it’s given many of the families fond memories of living in Catterick.
One young member, Swani, says: “I like seeing my friends from other schools and learning something new.”
One of the parents, Mrs Gurung, adds: “Both my children remind me when it’s culture club. Each week they are excited to tell me what they have learnt that session.”
Recently the focus has been on having fun by playing snakes and ladders, bingo and story time. The children have also been taught to write their name in Nepali.
The project also looks at cultural history and festivals, which helps young people to understand the meaning behind them and the different religious beliefs, in particular Hinduism and Buddhism.
Even during lockdown attendance remained good, with sessions moving online. While the format changed, parents played an important role in supporting their children’s learning.
If you’re in Catterick, you can find out more by emailing RC-AWS-E-Catterick-CSMailbox@mod.gov.uk and if you’d like to set up something similar in your area, speak to your local Community Development Worker.