The Words of the Adshead Family

Next Generation Academy (NGA) Reports From Nepal and Bangladesh

Jeff Adshed
April 16, 2008


I am in Thailand now and will report more about the ongoings here tomorrow - very exciting! Our teams are doing well. They are wrapping up their service work in their country and will return to Thailand on Friday the 18th. We are planning a wonderful workshop on the small island of KohWai - swimming, snorkeling, fishing and of course, reflection and presenting. I think everyone is doing well. Some minor stomach issues but overall, everyone is healthy and safe.

Here are my notes from the last few days. If you have not received previous reports, you can find them by logging into

April 11, 2008

In the Katmandu airport, waiting to go to Dhaka. Had a nice sendoff from the team and Lokji. Unfortunately, they took away the floral lay given me by the team. This is a really small airport. Security was very loose. Also, my flight is late. I think I'm going to miss the closing ceremony for the students at Dhaka University.

Today, we went to a Hindu temple with tons of monkeys around. It is on the river where they bring the dead to be burned. We watched several bodies cremated. The ashes and their remains are then put in the river. There were also children swimming in the same water. Many people selling things or begging of the tourists, of which there were plenty.

We then had a nice lunch with Robert Kittel along with the CARP leader for Nepal. We asked him to arrange some meetings with college students as a 'Friendship Meeting' to have some students to keep in touch with along with some home-stay experience. He picked up his phone and within a few minutes he said that it was all arranged: our team would be matched up with 3 students from 3 colleges for the 4 days they will be teaching next week and be able to stay in one of their homes as well.

In Bangladesh.
April 12

I am absolutely blown away by this team. They have done so much and are filled with confidence. They are confident teachers and presenters. It seems Manae gave a 3 and half hour presentation on True Love today. Much lauded by the teachers, students and her teammates. A long way from the challenge of 2-minute 'speech teach' of a few months ago. Unfortunately, I was late to attend the closing ceremony for their 8-day education with Dhaka University. By all accounts, it was a moving, tearful experience with deep connection between our team and the students.

This evening, we held a meeting for Ambassadors for Peace, including the Presidents of UPF, WFWP, IIFWP, representatives from media, University Professors and teachers, and leaders from various NGO's and organizations -- about 30 altogether. I spoke about UPF Character Education Initiative and NGA then introduced the team. They gave a slide show about the work they've done here so far. They were each confident, clear, concise and answered questions boldly without hesitation. Their training of others has clearly paid huge dividends in their own esteem and ability. I had to hold back tears often as I was so moved. They have some wonderful video of their presentations as well.

Tomorrow we go to a small village where IRFF built a school. We are doing a service project of painting the school along with some Character Ed.

April 13

Went to two IRFF schools. In the morning, the team did a couple of skits and songs for over 100 kids at a school built by IRFF over 20 years ago. At another school, built by RYS 11 years ago and upgraded last year by IRFF, Manae did an excellent presentation about gratitude and had the kids (about 40 age 12-15) made paper cranes. Everyone was so excited and marveled at how this simple paper through such complicated design could become a beautiful bird (in most cases). She was very animated in her instructions, which made it fun and created a real bond with some of the kids - Manae: Naseem!!!

We also sanded and painted the window grates and trim and doors on the new section built by IRFF last year (Kevin Wolfenberger was here!) Mr. Amano and Mr. Kabir have really been hard at work in this country. Through partnerships with IRFF, RYS, WFWP, UPF, and others, they have built the economy for several small communities. They are involved in sponsorships for school children, micro-financing, goats and cows donation program (one animal for every one donated is raised by them, but owned by IRFF and any offspring are then donated to other needy families), seeding programs and more. With our legacy fund, our team is looking to start a club on campus at Dhaka University and sponsoring a couple of students. Through this, we can have an ongoing presence here and give and take with the students on a professional level.

April 14

Today is Bengali New Year. We stayed in the village last night in a rustic home but with very warm hospitality. There was a spectacular thunderstorm last night! While all the power was knocked out, it made a wonderful show, and cooled the air considerably - there were even chunks of hail! We woke to a beautiful sunrise -- giant orange sun across the fields of rice and other vegetables. We walked through the fields and stopped in an outdoor walled area (described as the place to pray) for a prayer. Within about 5 minutes the onlookers were all around us. I guess we weren't there at the right time and our prayer wasn't conventional. Banglali's are very curious and not shy like Sri Lankans or Nepalis.

We did some more painting on the school and then Ana gave a wonderful presentation about respect to a group of about a dozen mothers and a dozen or so teens. There were a couple of mom's who had such deep and passionate looks on their faces and one expressed her sadness that we couldn't communicate better because of the language barrier.

We returned back to the bustling city of 10 million and headed out to attend the New Year Celebration at Dhaka University where, it seemed everyone in the city had congregated. It was a sea of people everywhere. They were just walking about, enjoying themselves. There was a lot of frivolity but nothing out of control -- no apparent 'party' behavior often associated with a street party in the US. None-the-less, there were still masses of people all trying to move and I was concerned that we might lose one of our team.

After about an hour of wading through this sea, I was starting to feel light-headed and ended up falling in a ditch. Only a flesh wound, but as Kabir put it, I was struck to avoid anything befalling our team. We met up with some of the Dhaka U students that our team taught and had a good talk with them. They are very conscientious and serving and have a global consciousness. I believe these will be the future leaders here and I think we will see greater interaction with them over the years. One of them is getting a masters in 'Peace and Conflict Resolution"

April 15

Tomorrow, the team is planning to hold a meeting with a number of the students who want to learn to teach the DRM material and to start an NGA club on campus. They have been so busy that I'm not sure they've had much time to reflect or realize the lessons learned. I hope they will be able to come away, with more than just a feeling of growth, but a real experience of transformation -- both through the project itself but also through the interaction as a team and their connection to their country.

I'm off to Thailand! Really looking forward to seeing the team there. I'll report more from Bangkok.


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