BCF’s Fave Films

It’s getting colder outside which can mean only one thing; it’s time to start preparing to hibernate for the winter. And what better way to do that than by stocking up on videos of a mysterious, far away land? Wile the dark, chilly nights away with a few of BCFs favorite films!

Follows two men who embark on separate journeys, across the wilds of Bhutan. Travelers and Magicians is a story of love, loss and the pursuit of of the dream of a better and different life.
Watch the trailer HERE
This PBS special explores the extraordinary landscape and environment of Bhutan, truly one of the world’s “living Edens”.
An Emmy award winning documentary, Bhutan: Taking the Middle Road to Happiness explores Bhutan’s policy of Gross National Happiness.
Watch the trailer HERE

Leader of Bhutan honored at Penn State

Prime Minister of Bhutan and Penn State graduate, Jigmi Thinley, was honoured by his alma mater last week.

When describing his time at Penn, Thinley remarked, “[i]f I were to look back at my academic growth and development and preparation for life, the most worthwhile experience has been the period that I spent here at Penn State.”

Read more HERE 
 Photo credit: Bhutan News Service

Introducing…Nick Morris!

Name: Nick Morris

University: Dalhousie University; Canisius College
Subjects: English, Philosophy
Ages You Teach: 13 to 23 year olds

Where do you teach?
Jigme Sherubling Higher Secondary School: Khaling, Trashigang

What do you teach?Grade 9 and 11 English, Creative Writing

Why did you choose to teach in Bhutan?
Why not? I was looking for a job at home to no avail when I saw an advertisement for this opportunity. I fell in love with Asia and Buddhist culture several years ago while backpacking through Thailand and Laos and I was looking for an opportunity to return to the Far East. When I learned more about Bhutan it became clearer and clearer that this was something I needed to do. Just being able to travel to a country that so few people have the opportunity to visit in their lifetime seemed like reason enough to come here. To actually be able to live and work here and be a part of such a unique culture was impossible to resist.

What is teaching in Bhutan like? How is it different than teaching in Canada?
It was definitely difficult at first. I think it took a little more than a month for me to feel comfortable with my classes, and probably even longer than that for my classes to feel comfortable with me. Getting students to actually participate in class is an ongoing battle to this very day. A lack of resources continues to frustrate me at times. Photocopying handouts is virtually impossible and some of my students still don’t have textbooks only two months before the final exams.

What is the one piece of advice you can offer teachers considering teaching in Bhutan?
Do it. It’s a difficult decision to make, but if you can’t stop thinking about whether or not to do it, or get the thought of Bhutan out of your head, then it’s probably something you should do. Just be prepared for a challenge, both in teaching your students and in your day-to-day life. No one warned me beforehand about how tiring life would be here. Simple chores like laundry and bathing are both time consuming and exhausting. Try to consider not just the romanticized version of the experience, but the reality as well. If it is still something you’re interested in doing than this experience is probably for you.

What is the most important thing you have learned so far from your experience in Bhutan?
I have learned how to eat rice and curry comprised almost entirely of chilies with my bare hands. I have learned how to throw a Bhutanese dart at a target 40 metres away and come nowhere close to hitting it. I’ve learned an entirely new version of English that I never before knew existed. I’ve learned how to take a deep breath when things make no sense, and to tell myself that they do make sense, just not to me. I’ve learned that I can live anywhere and be happy.

What has been the most difficult adjustment to life in Bhutan?
Firstly, the food. I was a fairly avid carnivore back in Canada. So when I arrived in Khaling and discovered that there was only one restaurant that had meat and that almost all my meals were going to be vegetarian I was a little worried. I actually adjusted to a vegetarian diet quite quickly, but I’d be lying if I said I didn’t crave a good animal-based meal from time to time.

Secondly, the timetable. Teachers should be prepared for a busy and tiring life here. We work six days a week and if you happen to be placed at a boarding school like I am, duties can extend from 7:30 a.m. to 8:30 p.m.. The weekends (Sundays) almost always feel too short and are usually consumed by numerous chores, as this is the only time to attend to any personal needs.

What is the best part about teaching in Bhutan?
The people. I have made the most amazing friends here. Some of my friends back at home were shocked to hear me describe some of the people here as my best friends, but they are honestly people I would be close to if I had met them back in Canada. The faculty and staff at my school are amazing. Everyone gets along so well and there is no one I don’t like and have at least a bit of a personal relationship with. Lastly and most importantly, my students are really making my whole experience here worthwhile. Joking around with them, having fun in class, and watching them grow as critical, mature thinkers makes me feel like I am really contributing something to their lives. Many of them have written about how I am unlike any teacher they have ever had (for better or worse, I’m not sure), and the truth is that I have probably learned as much from them as they have from me.

What are the essential qualities of teachers who will be successful in Bhutan?
Be flexible. Flexibility is absolutely imperative in this culture. Schedules can change entirely with absolutely no notice. Living conditions can vary depending on your location and luck. Adjusting to a new education system can be extremely frustrating at times. If you are not someone who is capable of “going with the flow” you’ll probably have a really tough time adapting to life here.