BCF hits the road this summer in search of teachers!!

The Bhutan Canada Foundation (BCF) will be holding interviews across Canada this summer as we search for 100 new teachers to teach in Bhutan!

In April 2010, BCF and the Ministry of Education in Bhutan signed an MoU (memorandum of understanding) which empowers BCF to recruit 100 new teachers every year to teach in the country. The MoU is intended to help Bhutan combat its teacher shortage, which is currently estimated to be 1000.

The recruitment process kicked off earlier this year, and interest is building as teachers across North America apply to teach in the Bhutan.

Teacher interviews are scheduled to take place in the following locations:
Calgary- July 23rd
Toronto- July 27th, 28th, 29th and August 3rd
Vancouver- August 5th and 6th

So, what are you waiting for!? Apply now for the experience of a lifetime!

Teach a world away. Make a world of difference. Teach in Bhutan.

Image by justpedalhard

Guru Rimpoche Day!

Today Bhutan celebrates the birth of Guru Rimpoche, also known as Guru Padmasambhava, an Indian sage who travelled to Bhutan in the 8th century to establish Tantric Buddhism. He is regarded as the 2nd incarnation of Buddha.

According to legend, Guru Rimpoche flew to the Taktsang Senge Samdup cave on the back of Yeshe Tsogyal, a semi-mythical female deity or figure of enlightenment in Tibetan Buddhism, whom he transformed into a flying tigress for the journey. Once at the cave Guru Rimpoche is said to have meditated in a spot around which the famous Tiger’s Nest monastery was built.
At the Kurje Lhakhang temple in Bumthang district an imprint of Guru Rimpoche’s body can be found in the wall of a cave.

READ more about Guru Rimpoche and his importance to Bhutan HERE

Introducing….Ann Berman; BCF Teacher, blogger, and adventurer!

Over the next few weeks we’ll be introducing you to our BCF teachers currently in the field. They are an inspiring bunch of people. We hope you’ll enjoy getting to know them!

Name: Ann Berman

School and Location: Mongar Lower Secondary School (which means PP to Class 8); Mongar, eastern Bhutan

Subjects: Class 6 English (42 students), 10 periods per week; Special Education “pull-out classes” (as they call them), 29 periods per week, 75 students. The English classes were upon my request, because I wanted an idea of what a “regular” class was like.

Ages You Teach: ages 6 to 19 (yes there is a 19 year old boy in class 8)

Why did you choose to teach in Bhutan?I’ve wanted to teach in a Himalayan Buddhist culture for many, many years, in fact ever since I travelled through Nepal in the early 1970’s. The forming of the BCF coincided with my retirement, finally making it possible to fulfill a lifelong dream.

What is it like to teach in Bhutan? How is it different than teaching in Canada?Where do I start? For more details you can read my blog (http://www.annsadventures-ann.blogspot.com/) , but I’ll try to touch on a few things:

It is very demanding, both in terms of time, and lack of resources. The new English curriculum is wonderful, and the teacher’s guides clearly outline excellent lessons, using a variety of methods which will be familiar to any Canadian teacher. This is all very new for most Bhutanese teachers, and like all of us, they tend to fall back on what is familiar to them: rote learning and lots of repetition. The teachers in my school are eager to learn, and consequently, I do a staff workshop about twice a month, and I’m often asked to demonstrate “new” methods in classes.

The students are amazing. Although English is at least their third language (after their local language and dzongka), they are surprisingly adept. Their vocabulary, spelling and use of writing conventions are better than students of a similar grade in Ontario. Grammar and pronunciation are not as strong, but they are learning quickly.

More than that, the students are so respectful, so appreciative and so sweet. I love them!

What is the one piece of advice you can offer teachers considering teaching in Bhutan?
I would like to quote fellow BCF teacher, Keira Loukes: “Be prepared for anything, but expect nothing.” Things just kind of happen here. Or not.

What is the most important thing you have learned so far from your experience in Bhutan?To live in the moment, enjoying the simple pleasures each day.

What has been the most difficult adjustment to life in Bhutan?Missing friends and family at home.

What is the best part about teaching in Bhutan?
I have a great feeling of satisfaction about the work I am doing here. I love learning about Bhutan through the eyes of my students.

What are the essential qualities of teachers who will be successful in Bhutan?

  • Resourcefulness, to cope at school and at home.
  • Patience. Baby steps, baby steps.
  • Independence, because once you are at your placement, there is probably no one to look after you but you.
  • Adaptability, to deal with everything new: altititude, cold/heat extremes, limited food options, simple accommodation, power, internet and water outages, superstition, complacency, 6 day work weeks.
  • A very positive attitude.

Make a difference; support schools in Bhutan by providing supplies

Across the country Canadians are making a difference in the lives of Bhutanese school children.

An Alberta based travel company, Unique Journeys, sent over 4,000 books to Bhutan in February. The books were contributed by schools across the province and then shipped to Bhutan by Agility Logistics, which donated the cost of shipping. Shipping boxes and storage for the books were also donated.

Linda Sawyer, owner of Unique Journeys, was motivated to spearhead the collection effort after a recent trip to Bhutan. “It was just a dream when I returned from Bhutan,” she said.

Like Linda, The Bhutan Canada Foundation is hard at work providing supplies to schools across Bhutan. After our teachers in the field sent a “wish list” of supplies and resources, including math manipulatives, puppets, fingerpaints, and dictionaries, BCF, along with some supportive friends, organized for a shipment to be sent to Bhutan. These resources will support education in Mongar, Bhutan.

Friends of Bhutan can help to provide more children with the support and resources they need by donating supplies, making a financial contribution, or donating services like shipping.

For more information, or to pledge your support email kristen@bhutancanada.com.

Four harmonious friends; BCF launches new giving levels

In Bhutan, the parable of the four friends is very well known, and depictions (like the one below) are seen almost everywhere. According to a Bhutanese scholar, Dasho Lam Sanga, “It symbolizes interdependence despite the difference in size and strength of the animals. It is an epitome of friendship, cooperation, good relation without considering hierarchy, strength, power or even size. It depicts the virtues of Buddhist morals. None of the animals were primarily concerned with themselves. Each of the animals was concerned with trying to help the others rather than being dominated by selfish concern.”

The Bhutan Canada Foundation is working to supply 100 qualified teachers trained in student-centered, community-based teaching methods to support the transformative role that teachers and schools play in remote rural communities across Bhutan.

We have recently adopted the four friends parable to symbolize the generosity of our wide family of friends and supporters. Please join us by becoming a Friend of Bhutan as we strive to reach our goal of sending 100 teachers to Bhutan.

Founding Friend of Bhutan $10,000
Peacock Friend $5,000
Rabbit Friend $1,000
Monkey Friend $500
Elephant Friend $50

Please consider becoming a monthly giving friend of Bhutan.

The “Four Friends” Thanka or scroll painting can also be compared to the four pillars of Gross National Happiness. While conventional development models stress economic growth as the ultimate objective, the concept of GNH is based on the premise that true development of human society takes place when material and spiritual development occur side by side to complement and reinforce each other.

The four pillars of GNH are:
• the promotion of equitable and sustainable socio-economic development,
• preservation and promotion of cultural values,
• conservation of the natural environment, and
• establishment of good governance.

According to a former Dzongkha lopon, wherever a picture of the four friends is displayed, the ten virtues will increase and the minds of all will become harmonious.
By displaying the four friends thanka to all our friends and supporters, we at BCF are wishing you virtuous hearts and harmonious minds.

Nancy Strickland receives honorary degree for her work in Bhutan

When it comes to education in Bhutan there have been few greater champions of the cause than Nancy Strickland. Having begun her career as an educator in Zimbabwe, Nancy then taught for three years in Eastern Bhutan, followed by one year in the High Arctic.

Nancy’s love for Bhutan eventually motivated her to return as coordinator of the Canadian Cooperation Office in Thimphu, where she supported a number of CIDA-funded education projects. With over 25 years experience in Bhutan, Nancy was a natural choice to assume the role of Executive Director of the newly formed Bhutan Canada Foundation (BCF) in 2009. The mission of the organization is to encourage the thoughtful transformation of education in Bhutan, through the provision of teachers, scholarships and supplies.

In her freshman year as Executive Director of The Bhutan Canada Foundation Nancy welcomed the first group of BCF teachers to Bhutan and escorted each and every one of them to their posts, largely in Eastern Bhutan. These teachers are having an incredible impact on students and communities across Bhutan; Nancy and her team in Thimphu have been there to support and guide them along the way.

Nancy’s impact reaches far beyond the BCF teachers working in the field. During her time in Bhutan she has built strong relationships with members of government, business leaders and the Royal Family, serving as the face of Canada in Bhutan and fostering continued goodwill and cooperation between the two nations. Nancy has also been involved in the development of a number of textbooks and curriculum and even wrote a children’s book about rural Bhutan entitled Going Home in the Rain.

Today Nancy is receiving an Honorary Degree from Trent University for her work overseas, notably in the Kingdom of Bhutan. Over the past few days accolades from friends and colleagues have been pouring in to the BCF office, congratulating Nancy on this impressive accomplishment. “She’s certainly very deserving of this honor and should be very proud of all that she has accomplished in and for Bhutan,” says one email.

Indeed, there is no one I can think of who is more deserving of this honor than Nancy. The Bhutan Canada Foundation congratulates her and looks forward to a long and productive future together.

Sam Blyth, Chair
The Bhutan Canada Foundation