Teacher Blog of the Week: The Road to Rukubji

Photo Credit: Dave Green

We’ve got so many teachers writing fantastic blogs this year (including a new one from Martin) that we’ve decided to highlight one great post per week!

This week’s post comes to us from the always adventurous Dave Green, who decided that he just had to experience the himalayas for himself before he could get down to the business of teaching in Pakshikha – so he rented a car!

Enjoy – The Road to Rukubji

Bhutan Photo of the Week: Butter Lamps

We are very grateful for the many beautiful photos we receive from our BCF teachers in Bhutan as well as from travellers and citizens alike. We want to take the time to showcase some of these unique and fascinating photos on our blog so we can all feel a little closer to Bhutan! If you have any pictures you would like to share with us, please send the photos with your information to info@bhutancanada.org.

Butter lamps are a common feature in Buddhist temples and monasteries throughout the Himalayas. A lighted butter lamp represents the illumination of wisdom and helps to focus the mind and aid meditation.

This photo was taken by two of our BCF teachers, Vicky Chartes and Ian Swift, as part of “Rimdro” – a school purfication ritual – at Rangjung HSS in Trashigang. (See their blog post here)

Upcoming International Seminar in Bhutan: Educating for GNH

Paro College of Education, Bhutan

The 32nd Annual International Seminar of the International Society of Teacher Education will be held at Paro College of Education, the Royal University of Bhutan, Paro, Bhutan. The focus of this year’s seminar is “Educating for Gross National Happiness: Role of Teacher.”

The principal focus of the Seminar is on the papers that are presented by those attending. Seminar participants work in small paper groups during the Seminar to discuss the content of papers and provide collegial feedback. This work is supplemented by inviting keynote addresses from prominent educators. A range of cultural and social activities provide an insight into the culture and educational context of the hosting nation and region. Partners and accompanying persons are especially invited to attend and a separate, parallel cultural and social program provided for accompanying persons.

For more information, please visit http://www.pce.edu.bt/isfte2012.html

Become a Billet Family

For the past two years, Bhutanese students Gaki and Yeshi have studied at Blyth Academy Yorkville, through a scholarship provided by Blyth Education and The Bhutan Canada Foundation. This April, Gaki & Yeshi will complete their studies and head back to Bhutan to pursue their dream of becoming doctors.

In September 2012, two new Bhutanese student scholars will arrive from Bhutan to complete two years of study at Blyth Academy.

The Student Scholar program is made possible in part through generosity of billet families who are willing to provide room and board for these students.

What’s it like to be a billet family? Peyton, the host sister to student scholars Gaki &Yeshi, told us a little bit about her experience.

How did you and your family learn about the billet program through BCF?

P: In March 2010, I went on a volunteer trip to Bhutan. While I was there, I was amazed by the kindness and generosity of the people. It is an incredible country, and when I came home from my two-week journey, I told my parents about my experiences. They wanted to get more involved with Bhutan, and when Sam Blyth told them about the billet program, they were immediately interested.

What has it been like having Gaki and Yeshi live with you?

P: It has been an amazing experience having Gaki and Yeshi living with me. After my brother left for university, I was an only child in my house, but having the girls there was like having two sisters. It has been great being able to show them around my hometown and just hang out with them.

Have you noticed a change in the girls since coming to Canada?

P: I think the girls have changed since coming to Canada. The Canadian and Bhutanese cultures are fairly different so I have noticed that the girls have blended the two cultures. They are more talkative and inquisitive, and enjoy making the most of opportunities.

What do you think living and attending school in Canada has taught them?

P: I think that Gaki and Yeshi have become more open to experiences and more outgoing. They have become more worldly and more open minded. They have also tried new subjects and expanded their interests. I think it has taught them to be more independent and self-confident.

How have you and your family benefitted from hosting Gaki and Yeshi?

P: My family and I have benefitted a lot from having the girls live with us. We have learned so much about Bhutanese culture – a culture full of respect, patience and understanding. It has been amazing discovering our own home city through their eyes and watching them grow into mature young women. We have learned to be more adventurous and grateful for all the opportunities we have.

Are you interested in billeting Bhutanese students studying in Toronto? Click here to find out more.

BCF Remembers Shirley-Dale Easley

Shirley-Dale Easley, esteemed educator and long-time friend of Bhutan, passed away February 7th.

Shirley – Dale was a supporter of Bhutan for almost twenty years and worked on a number of projects involving Bhutan throughout her career as an educator. One such project, based out of Zhemgang, saw four or five Bhutanese teachers come to Canada each winter to work with Canadian colleagues. This program helped Bhutanese teachers develop skills and empowered them to share these skills with their colleagues back home. Shirley – Dale also served as an adviser on the development of the new Bhutanese English curriculum, which was developed with CIDA.

As Nancy Strickland, BCF Executive Director and dear friend to Shirley – Dale remembers, “[s]he loved Bhutan and went above and beyond the call of duty on a regular basis, delivering Bhutanese students to the airport at all hours of the day and night or receiving them with warm jackets and snow boots in hand. She was truly a mentor and she kept up personal communication with most of the teachers and educators when they returned to Bhutan and sent them teaching ideas or an interesting book or two…”

Near the end of 2011, Shirley – Dale donated 1,000 books to BCF, which were then sent of Bhutan to be distributed to needy school libraries. Shirley – Dale had spent a great deal of time collecting and organizing these books – each box was carefully labeled with its contents and the name of the school that she asked it be delivered to. The last of the books donated by Shirley – Dale arrived in Phuntsholing, Bhutan just three days ago.

Shirley – Dale will be greatly missed. Her spirit will live on in all those who knew her.

Shirley – Dale’s obituary.

Bhutan Video Vault: The Art of Weaving

Today we’d like to spotlight a traditional component of Bhutanese culture – the art of weaving.

Weaving is held in high esteem in all of Bhutan and carries special social significance. Taking root in a rural and rustic setting, a uniquely rich tradition of weaving has evolved over time. In Bhutan, weaving is considered a special skill identified in women and is handed down from generation to generation, mother to daughter, from family to family.

Weaving in Bhutan is today an art form that is representative of the very heart and soul of the country. Fabrics fashioned in the looms, a veritable feast of magical colors and intricate designs and patterns, are symbolic of the Bhutanese society. As seamlessly as the act of weaving itself is accomplished, the textiles that are created constitute an integral mesh in the tapestry of Bhutanese life.

Apart from the family’s clothing needs, handwoven fabrics are also tasteful gifts on special occasions such as marriages and job promotions. The best of these are also traded in the same way as gold and land. Families pass down exquisite pieces to successive generations as heirlooms and keepsakes that can be traded in times of economic hardship or preserved as investment. Once an economic force, the gift of woven fabrics has today become an important custom. A proud tradition that is prevalent across Bhutan and carries on through the fingers of generations of women.


A New Year, Six New Blogs

BCF Class of 2012 in National Dress
Photo Credit: David Green

Over the past few years, we’ve been lucky that several of our BCF teachers in the field have kept blogs, offering all of us a window into their adeventure in Bhutan. This year is no different. In the Class of 2012 we have six new teacher bloggers and, fortunately for us, Vicky & Ian from the Class of 2011 continue will continue to share their experience on their blog, In the Shadow of the Mountains, as well.

Here’s the new list (also post on the right hand column of this blog.)

The Bhutanical Adventures of Dave Green – by David Green
Huffmon in the Himalayas – by Ashley Huffmon
Tiger in a Trance – by Tim Grossman
Year of the Dragon – by Delaine Keenum
Sarah’s Travels & Adventures – by Sarah Carlin
Himalayan View – by Aurelia Smith

Happy Reading!

Teacher Orientation: Road Trip

Last Friday, BCF teachers set out on what is surely the most exhilarating road trip of their lives! Together they traversed across Bhutan, up steep, rugged mountains, down lush, tropical valleys, along the most harrowing highway in the world. One by one BCF teachers were dropped off at their new communities.

Below is an interactive Google map, which gives you a sneak peak into  the communities where our teachers are placed. Have a look!

View BCF Map of Bhutan in a larger map