Welcome to Thimphu!

Our teachers have been in Thimphu for one whole week, getting comfortable with the country and culture, and we thought to share a bit of their experience with you!

Thimphu is the capital and largest city of Bhutan, situated in western Bhutan and home to 80,000 people. Prior to 1960, Thimphu was a small village which was then developed by the third King Jigme Dorji Wangchuck to replace the ancient capital in Punakha. Today the city sprawls across the western slopes of the Wang Chu river valley, with several important government offices located around Tashichho Dzong.

Interested in learning about current local events and activities happening in Thimphu? Try out the site Thimphu Live which hi-lights restaurants, night life, and cultural events throughout the city.

We’re happy to share a wonderful map of the capital, created by Canadian and BCF friend, Andrea Williams. The map showcases main points of interest in Thimphu and is a great help to explore all the city has to offer!

Tourist Map of Thimphu

You can read more about the process of creating the map HERE.

Orientation: Shopping for Kira/Gho!

Introduced during the 17th century by Shabdrung Ngawang Namgyal, traditional dress is an important part of Bhutanese identity and culture and is one of the most distinctive and visible aspects of the country.

Each year during orientation, BCF teachers have the chance to shop and order their gho or kira, often with the help of very friendly locals who are flattered when seeing our teachers embrace the unique clothing, and it’s especially welcome as putting on a gho or kira, is not an easy process.

Arwen in her styling kira! Photo Credit: Andrea Chisholm.

Women wear a floor-length dress called a kira. It is a large piece of rectangular cloth in bright colours that is fastened at the shoulders with elaborate hooks called koma and a cloth belt (kera). A silk-jacket called a toego may be worn over the top. Traditional kira can be quite difficult to tie, so most of teachers opt to wear a half-kira which fastens much easier than being tied. Very helpful in the early-mornings!

Andrea’s husband, Bob, getting fitted for his gho. Photo Credit: Andrea Chisholm.

Men wear a gho, a full-length robe, hoisted to knee-length and held in place with a cloth belt called a kera. The gho is folded specifically to allow a pocket to form in the front, where a surprisingly large amount of items can be stored.

Getting fitted for national dress is always a fun experience for our teachers to share together. Check out the previous years: BCF Class of 2011 and BCF Class of 2012.

BCF Teachers 2013 – All Smiles!

Orientation seems to be going splendidly in Thimphu with our newly arrived 16 teachers, joined by BCF Thimphu staff, and one-returning teacher, Andrea now in her fourth year! Our other four-returning teachers will be arriving shortly and altogether will drive across the country to each of their new schools.
Class of 2013, outside the BCF Thimphu office!

We’d love to see your photos of Bhutan! 
Send your best snaps and photo credit information to info@bhutancanada.org

Class of 2013 arrives in Bhutan!

All of our teachers are safe and sound in Bhutan!

A very long travel time for most, some with delays and changes, but our group of 16 new BCF teachers have arrived to Paro Airport and travelled the short distance to Thimphu. They have begun a two-week orientation to introduce them to the country and culture, as well as each another, and to prepare them for the classroom and curriculum.

Photo Credit: Thubten Senge.

Over the next few weeks, we’ll share some of their adventures and experiences as they begin to adapt and move to their individual communities and schools.

Photo Credit: Sarah Diamond.

Some of our teachers had the chance to go to dinner with the Chair of The Bhutan Canada Foundation, Sam Blyth, as he is currently in the country. They also hiked to Taktshang (Tiger’s Nest) Monastery, a memorable though daunting climb, located atop a 3,000 feet cliff in Paro Valley.

Stay tuned for more! And remember, recruitment for the class of 2014 will begin in May.

Class of 2013 Profile: Sarah Diamond

Last but certainly not least, we are incredibly proud to introduce our final new BCF Teacher of the Class of 2013, Canadian Sarah Diamond. Sarah will be teaching English to grades 4 through 6 at Tshangkha LSS in Trongsa Dzongkhag.

Sarah Diamond

Sarah was born and raised in Toronto and escaped the big city to pursue a combined B.Sc in Geography and B.Ed. in primary education at Queen’s University, Kingston.

Her passion for teaching began early on in rural South Africa, where she shared her love of nature through an environmental program.

Her curiosity for Canada’s diverse natural environments has since inspired short-term teaching placements in the high Arctic and northern British Columbia.

Sarah returned to Toronto where she volunteer taught and worked part-time on an organic farm. Sarah was first introduced to Bhutan through a discussion of gross national happiness a few years ago. Hungry for adventure and curious to explore the “last Shangri-La” Sarah  looks forward to beginning her teaching career at Tshangkha LSS!

Kuzuzangpola Sarah and the entire Class of 2013!

Video – Druk Air soars

Flying Druk Air into Paro airport is always an amazing experience as it is situated in a deep valley over 7000feet above sea level. On a clear day, Druk Air offers an unrivalled view of some of the highest mountains on earth as you soar through the serene Himalayan mountain ranges.

Our teachers always find this a wonderful introduction to Bhutan and they’re currently experiencing this right now as they fly from Bangkok, Kathmandu, and Singapore this week to begin their new adventure!

Watch a Video on Druk Air at Singapore-Bhutan air traffic soars

“Visiting the mountain kingdom of Bhutan, home to centuries-old temple fortresses and holy Buddhist shrines, has never been more convenient for Singaporeans. A new direct flight which opened this September has proven popular enough that Bhutan’s national airline, Druk Air, will be increasing its flights to the Lion City. Jeremy Lim was in both countries to bring you this video report.”

Class of 2013 Profile: Arwen Seccombe

So many introductions of so many amazing and passionate teachers! One of these adventurous educators is Arwen Seccombe, who will be teaching English in grades 6, 7 and 8 at Bjishong MSS in Gasa District.

Arwen Seccombe

Arwen was born in Vienna, Austria and grew up in various places before settling in Australia.

She knew she wanted to a teacher after working as an education officer, teaching people about reptiles. She has loved working as a primary school teacher in Sydney though she does sometimes miss the zoo!

In her spare time, Arwen likes to sail anything from dinghies to square-rigged ships, sing anything from Bach to Queen, and visit the local observatory for everything from meteor showers to eclipses.

Arwen is very much looking forward to teaching in Bhutan, getting involved in the community, and is hoping to see some of the local wildlife!

Welcome Arwen!

Class of 2013 Profile: Kyle McGee

Today, we’re delighted to introduce another fantastic teacher joining BCF to teach in Bhutan. Kyle McGee will be teaching English in grades 4 through 6 at Trongsa Primary School.

Kyle McGee

Originally from a small residential neighbourhood known for horses and wildlife in Loomis, CA, Kyle made a decision early in life to explore the world.

He has a first degree in Liberal Arts and various qualifications in teaching including a CELTA. He completed his Masters in English Language Teaching at Nottingham University in 2009.

He started out teaching as a volunteer in a Tibetan refugee community in Northern India. He continued his teaching and traveling in various countries including Pakistan, Nepal, Thailand, Malaysia, Singapore, Indonesia, Morocco, Algeria, Tunisia, Zanzibar, and Oman.

Before English Teaching, Kyle was a support manager and technical writer for a popular musical instrument manufacturer in the US. He encourages fun, games, and interaction in his classes. He often employs pair and group work to keep his students interested and vocal.

He looks forward to embracing the interesting and traditional culture of Bhutan.

Kuzuzangpola Kyle!

Photo of the Week – Photographer Adam Monk visits Bhutan

We’re happy to introduce Adam Monk, an Australian landscape and nature photographer, who recently travelled to Bhutan leading a tour group of photographers with plans to continue visiting and photographing Bhutan.

He is happy to share his mesmerising shots and promote the uniqueness and beauty of Bhutan. So today, we’re showcasing Rivers and Rice fields of Bhutan.

Rice field landscape.
Wild river in Trongsa Province, Bhutan.
Traditional Bhutanese architecture.
Wild river in the Chumey Valley.

We’d love to see your photos of Bhutan! 

Send your best snaps and photo credit information to info@bhutancanada.org

Class of 2013 Profile: Martin Gattuso

In only one week’s time, BCF’s new group of teachers will be flying Drukair into Paro to begin their new life in rural postings spread out across the Kingdom. Today, we are happy to introduce another addition to this class – Martin Gattuso, from the UK, is an educator and a recently ordained monk who goes by the name of Thubten Senge. He will be teaching English to grades 4 through 6 at Kabesa MSS in Punakha.

Martin Gattuso

Thubten Senge (Martin Gattuso) is a recently ordained monk. Previous to travelling to Nepal to receive ordination and Buddhist teachings, he spent a year in India; and before that he spent many years teaching English language, and English literature in Japan to students of various ages and abilities.

Thubten Senge brings an unorthodox yet richly diverse background to the young learners of Bhutan, and looks forward to the days of sharing and growth that lie ahead.
Welcome Thubten Senge!