On 27th September 2021, 11 British Army officers from across the Brigade of Gurkhas arrived in British Gurkhas Pokhara for the Survival Nepali Language and Culture (SNLC) course.
SNLC 21/02 was the first course to be delivered in Nepal since the disruption of COVID-19, and the students were eagerly looking forward to immersing themselves in the language and culture. The SNLC provides Platoon/ Troop Commanders with the language skills to converse in Nepali with their Gurkha colleagues and gives an introduction to Nepalese culture and traditions. Over the course of ten weeks the Brigade Culture and Language Team, led by Captain Dirgha KC, took the students from very basic level Nepali speaking to being able to communicate effectively and deliver a 15-minute presentation in Nepali.
There are a variety of activities throughout the course which give the opportunity to practice Nepali outside of the classroom and to learn more about Nepalese and Gurkha culture. The first of these was the Doko Run event, a best effort run uphill over 6km with a 15kg Doko. It was a close competition in rainy conditions, with only seconds separating the lead runners. Lieutenant Frederick Kingdon from The Second Battalion, The Royal Gurkha Rifles (2 RGR), ultimately took the victory and all the participants and spectators were rewarded with a delicious breakfast at the finish point. Another highlight of the course was a week’s attachment to an Area Welfare Centre (AWC), which gave students the chance to explore more of Nepal and to interact with some of the pensioners that the Gurkha Welfare Trust (GWT) supports. The team also undertook the Annapurna Base Camp trek in under three days. The short time frame made the ascent challenging, but the beautiful scenery of the Annapurna region made the effort more than worthwhile.
The course concluded with a dinner and the prize giving.
The students then deployed across Nepal on their two weeks designated duty trek, heading into the most remote areas of Nepal to conduct welfare checks on Gurkha Welfare Trust pensioners and test their newly learnt language skills.
By Lieutenant Siobhan Price – Queen’s Gurkha Engineers