Nine expectant faces in a decidedly hot tutorial room. We introduced ourselves: what will we each bring as a strength to the discussion and what will we each need help with. Strengths were varied: love of physiology or pharmacology, drawing diagrams on the board, creating summaries or flow charts, good listening skills, asking good questions. On the flip side they would need help from each other with physiology, pharmacology, drawing on the board, speaking English. Commonalities were established and the beginnings of rapport were established.
They established ground rules for our group (pretty standard PBL behaviors) and we were into our first case. Their enthusiasm was wonderful. No shortage of discussion and definitely no lapses into silence.
An hour later I gave my first lecture. The classroom is hot and small and three students share small tables lined up in three tight rows. Fans are running constantly to move the hot air around but that means that we need to use a hand held microphone that is awkward for teaching and the acoutistics are marginal at best. Despite that the students seemed remarkably attentive and we took frequent “speaking Nepali” breaks where they could discuss in their own language what I had just taught them in English. Those islands of comprehension were vital as it gave them some time to test their understanding and to be more active in the learning process.
Meeting a new class for the first time is always a bit daunting; until you take each other’s pulse (figuratively) and get the temperature of the room; warm reception or cool, serious or relaxed. I feel that we are off to a good start. I’m grateful to be here.