One of our favorite teachers over the years, Tony Santilli, had such a memorable experience in Nepal that we asked him to share his story with us.

Tony interned with Trek to Teach in the summer of 2014. What set his experience apart from most is that he taught in both Kathmandu and in the village of Ghandruk during his 10 weeks in Nepal. Tony was set to teach in the Himalayan village of Ghandruk for his entire time, but its school was unexpectedly closed down for a month and Tony shared time at one of the largest public schools in the capital city of Kathmandu. Without text books, Tony relied on the materials he brought. He taught “Friday fun-days” which included an autobiography project where they taped their final project to the wall. Also they would often learn with physical activities outdoors such as the game of Red Light, Green Light. One of Tony’s favorite experiences teaching in Kathmandu was being treated like family. The headmaster at school called him, “Tony Kanchha sir.” “Kanchha” means youngest male member in a family. When Tony wasn’t teaching, the Trek to Teach staff accommodated him very well and taught him Nepali.

Tony Santilli in the classroom

When Tony arrived in Ghandruk, his supplies were limited: one notebook, crayons, markers, flashcards and duct tape. He had used most of his supplies in Kathmandu. During his trek to the school with Trek to Teach VP Narayan, Tony learned many phrases in Nepali, which he relied upon while in the classroom.  The two became good friends and still talk regularly.

Tony and Narayan

Every day, Tony wrote the days of the week in sentences in English and Nepali on the board. For example, he wrote, “Today is Tuesday, Yesterday was Monday, Tomorrow will be Wednesday,” to identify the names of the days and the use of present, past or future tense. The students in Ghandruk were limited in their English skills compared to the students in Kathmandu. When he wasn’t teaching, Tony ventured out to other villages, spent time with his host family or updated his journal. Through his patience, learning the culture and language, Tony taught his estimated 800+ students and learned from them in return.

The nature, culture, people and food are what he misses most. Tony has traveled in North America, South America, Europe and Asia, but explains his favorite place in the world is Nepal. Currently, Tony is enrolled in a Master’s program for Psychology Counseling in Berkeley, California. He has remained involved with Trek to Teach following his internship because Trek to Teach has been a life-learning and exciting part of Tony’s life. Tony plans to trek to the Mount Everest Base Camp with Narayan dhai (older brother) after he graduates and visit his “pariwaar” “family” in Nepal.

Tony’s experiences through Trek to Teach have transformed him into a more insightful man and have broadened his horizons. He now feels more prepared to interact with others in intercultural and international capacities.

Tony at his farewell ceremony

Feel free to email Tony any questions or concerns you have about Trek to Teach and Nepal.

santilli_t {at}