Today’s story from the field comes from Ashley Huffmon, a BCF teacher in Bhutan who is currently in her second year at Kanglung Primary School in Trashigang. Ashley’s story gives us insight about her time as the English Literary in charge of the Kanglung Primary Observer newspaper. For more stories from Ashley, visit her blog Huffmon in the Himalayas
|Photo Credit: Ashley Huffmon
“The Kanglung Primary School newspaper was established in 2011, by a former BCF volunteer teacher, Miss Lisa Phu. It was a huge success in my school and immediately recognized by other schools and Bhutan’s national newspaper. So when I was asked if I wanted to continue the school magazine as the English Literary in charge, I instantly accepted the offer.
I began with a literary club of 22 students in which the students chosen had very little or no knowledge of what a reporter does or the purpose of a newspaper. It began with confusion from both sides; how was I supposed to lead 22 English Language Learner students in making a newspaper when we both were bewildered? I began my research by looking at previous newspapers, asking advice from other teachers, and reading over 25 tutorials on how to start an elementary school newspaper.
I began with telling the students that this was their newspaper. I wanted them to realize this was not just for teachers to read, but also for the student body. I wanted to them to know they were contributing articles and ideas to the newspaper. Next, it was job placement. I specifically choose some students for certain jobs through already knowing their talents and capabilities in writing and photography. In a few short periods of explanations and tutorials, we had begun our first newspaper.
Our first newspaper was ready for publication after 2 months of diligent work by both the students and teachers. I also involved some of the Sherubtse students from the local college to help situate a new design and layout for the newspaper. The students from the media society at Sherubtse College were eager to help my students understand the importance of a newspaper and how media affects their lives. In addition to just producing the newspaper, I incorporated a field trip to the local Kuensel Newspaper where I believe my students achieved a better understanding of just how much work goes into producing a newspaper.
We are currently working on our 3rd and 4th editions that will wrap up the year of the Kanglung Primary Observer. In my opinion it has been a huge success. The students know much more about the newspaper and we have both enjoyed our time learning and understanding the importance of media. I believe that it has not only helped to improve their English, but has also opened their eyes to the capabilities they have as children. Our newspaper was sent all over the Trashigang Dzongkhag and many teachers from other schools have complimented us on our efforts in producing a school newspaper. It has been one of the most gratifying experiences that I have had here in Bhutan. All the hard work and late nights have definitely paid off. Now the students have something to keep and look back on years from now, in knowing they made a contribution to their school newspaper.”