What The World Eats

Namgay Family. Photo Credit: Peter Menzel and Faith D’Aluisio.
Namgay Family. Photo Credit: Peter Menzel and Faith D’Aluisio.

In 2005, photojournalists Peter Menzel and Faith D’Aluisio published Hungry Planet: What the World Eats, a book documenting the weeklong diets of 30 families across the globe, from Bhutan and Bosnia to Mexico and Mongolia. Menzel and D’Aluisio followed each family through the whole process, showing where they got their food and how they got it, what they liked to eat, and how much it cost.


While in Bhutan, they visited the Namgay family of Shingkhey Village in Wangdue Phodrang. During that week, the family grocery bill was 224.93 ngultrum or $5.03USD (in 2005).

Their family recipe? Mushroom, cheese, and pork. …and of course, plenty of chillies!

Interested in how this Bhutanese family’s diet compares to others? See the rest at Time Photos – What the World Eats, Part I.

Elections are happening in Bhutan!

Bhutanese man showing his voter card as he waits  to cast his vote (Source: Daily Maverick)
Bhutanese man showing his voter card as he waits
to cast his vote (Source: Daily Maverick)

Elections are happening in Bhutan! The Himalayan Kingdom has now begun to vote as of Tuesday, for the lower house National council, for only the second time marking Bhutan’s progression from an absolute monarchy to a parliamentary democracy beginning in 2008. Following the 2008 parliamentary election, Bhutan is one of the world’s youngest democracies, demonstrating the switch to the economic system of Gross National Happiness.

Gross National Happiness was inspired through the fourth monarch, and proposes the need for Bhutan government to advance achievements of happiness through a government policy that exercises both a holistic approach towards governance and an effective measure to achieve economic prosperity (Source: International Business Times). This balanced approach to both economic and spiritual prosperity was recently highlighted by the UN general assembly on March 20th, celebrated as the International Day of Happiness.

In the following weeks, the nation will decide which of the five parties will best embody this concept and represent the next government as members of the second ever Bhutanese National Assembly. With elections in 2008 giving Bhutanese people two options to cast their vote for, this election will see five parties in the campaign race. The parties include the Druk Phuensum Tshogpa Party (DPT) (currently in power), the People’s Democratic Party, the Druk Chirwang Tshogpa, the Bhutan Kuen-Nyam Party, and the Druk Nyamrup Tshogpa. Following this vote, Bhutan will also vote for the National Assembly, another body of the Parliament of Bhutan, starting in June.

Bhutanese nationals wait their turn to vote in  the capital of Thimphu (Source: Daily Maverick)
Bhutanese nationals wait their turn to vote in
the capital of Thimphu (Source: Daily Maverick)

For more information on this special event, feel free to read up on our past blog post, Bhutan begins to prepare to head for the polls, and some great news articles from International Business Times and Associated Free Press. For beautiful pictures of Bhutan and the Elections, visit the Daily Maverick!

Spotlight on District Series – Gasa Dzongkhag

Snowman's Trek. Photo Credit: Peter McBride
Snowman’s Trek. Photo Credit: Peter McBride

The next district in our Spotlight Series is Gasa Dzongkhag! Located at the extreme far north of Bhutan, Gasa spans the middle and high Himalayas with pristine forests and exceptionally scenic views. Previously a sub-district of Punakha, Gasa is known for its tshachus (natural hot springs), Jigme Dorji National Park (including many rare species such as snow leopards, red pandas, and blue sheep), and beautiful hiking trails such as the Snowman’s trek, one of the most difficult but best hikes in the world (feeling adventurous?)!

Due to the heavy snowfall in the upper regions during winter, the area is known for having cold winters and short pleasant summers. With the majority of the area of Gasa covered in forest, the only way to get to the district is by foot. Gasa is most famous for its Layap people that live in the bey-yul (‘hidden lands’) of Gasa, who have their own distinct language, customs, and clothing, including conical bamboo hats.

Arwen talks about the views in the district along with accommodations in her blog: The positives of the walk were firstly the views. Breathtaking views. Views that would make a person write symphonies and sonnets. After a long, windy, unsealed and absolutely stunning drive we reached the Gasa and the Bjishong school. It is so amazingly gorgeous up there! And my quarters are much bigger and more luxurious than I was expecting. – From Arwen in Gasa

Accommodation in Gasa. Photo credit: Sarah Carlin
Accommodation in Gasa. Photo credit: Sarah Carlin

Our teachers teach at Bjishong Middle Secondary School, located by Damji village, two hours south of the Dzong and two hours north of the Punakha District. The school is primarily a boarding school, containing approximately 400 students in total ranging from PP (kindergarten) to class 10. It is one of only four schools in the district and the only school that goes past grade 6.

Past teachers in the field include Sarah Carlin, a teacher from our 2012 season. Sarah had this to say about her experience in Bhutan at Bjishong MSS: Much of life in Bhutan is spent, at least for me, “in the moment”…there are so many cultural things to learn, neighbours to befriend and get to know, students to teach, papers to grade, and of course the never-ending chores to do that I spent most of my time focused on the ‘here and now’.

I do not mind the remote environment, I am in no way bothered by cold weather, and although I miss my friends and family, I am not homesick. Coming here was the right decision for me. The challenges that first come to mind are the kinds that my western friends say – the physical ones. But after being at my placement for over a month, those are negligible if non-existent now. I am used to the day-to-day life here. – From Sarah’s Travels and Adventures

National Day. Photo credit: Sarah Carlin.
National Day. Photo credit: Sarah Carlin.

Gasa is just one of the districts our teachers are placed in so stay tuned for more District Spotlights! Read more about the district and schools at the above teacher blogs and be sure to keep your eyes on our live application date, opening May 1st!

Application opens May 1st, 2013! Learn more and apply online at www.TeachInBhutan.org

Questions? Contact us at info@bhutancanada.org


Photo of the Week – Celebrating Earth Day

In honour of Earth Day today, April 22nd, we’re happy to present these beautiful shots from BCF teacher Colin, based in Yadhi HSS, Mongar – After the Rain.
Photo Credit: Colin

This year, our school development projects, initiated by our BCF teachers, will all have an environmental-focus. Our teachers are currently submitting their proposals so stay tuned over the following weeks to learn about their plans to incorporate sustainability, water source protection, and conservation issues into their schools with the amazing help and partnership of their students, administration, colleagues, and communities!
To learn more about Earth Day and see how you can take action, check out the Earth Day Network and Earth Day Canada!
We’d love to see your photos of Bhutan!
Send your best snaps and photo credit information to info@bhutancanada.org

Blog of the Week – Bhutan Through a Lens

Today’s blog of the week comes from Colin Johnston from Yadhi Higher Secondary School in Mongar Dzongkhag. Colin’s blogs have beautiful photos and interesting stories of his time in Bhutan, including an interesting anecdote from this past weekend about swimming in Bhutan with students from Yadhi HSS! 

Swimming with Students, Photo Credit: Colin 

They were all excited to see me and asked what I was doing, I told them I was trying to find somewhere to swim. This being Bhutan, they all immediately stopped work and offered to not only show me where to swim but also go swimming with me. We walked through a few more dry paddy fields through a small wooded area over some rocks to a part of the river that had formed a natural pool. On the far side of this natural swimming pool was a sheer cliff a few hundred meters high, up and down river the water cascaded over boulders. The boys all immediately jumped in and I followed, although not hot, the water was surprisingly warm. They found is hilarious when I floated on my back and, despite trying, they could not copy me. –From Swimming 

Lunch with Bhutanese grandparents, Photo Credit: Colin 

Colin’s encounter also featured a meet and greet with some of the students’ grandparents, in which he shared lunch with the family:  It was a real honour to be sitting with the family sharing a small part of their lives. Their lives were clearly hard work; you could see it in the wrinkles of the grandparents faces and the cuts on their arms. But they were happy and they were content. They had found their own little bit of paradise. And I was lucky enough to glimpse it. -From Swimming Part 2 (now with snakes)

For more stories from Colin’s blog, visit Bhutan through a lens, a British science teacher living in Bhutan. 

Apply to Teach in Bhutan ~ Only Two Weeks Away!

It’s that time of year again! Recruitment for the 2014 Bhutanese school year begins in two weeks – on May 1st, 2013.
Are you interested in a once-in-a–lifetime opportunity that will…

  • give you full-time paid international teaching experience?
  • expand your career horizons as you teach a fully immersive national curriculum, taught in English?
  • allow you to explore a new and unique culture, in one of the most remote and untouched nations in the world?
  • make a true difference in the lives of rural Bhutanese students and the communities in which they live?
Requirements! You are a… 

  • Qualified teacher with either:
1.     A  post-secondary degree in education;
2.     Three years of full-time relevant classroom teaching experience;
3.     Teacher certification (provincial, state, or equivalent)
  • Native English speaker
  • Primary/junior educator, or intermediate/secondary English, math, science, or special education specialist
  • Adaptable and enthusiastic adventurer who is looking to make a difference
Then we’d love to hear from you!

Application opens May 1st, 2013. Learn more and apply online at www.TeachInBhutan.org
Questions? Contact us at info@bhutancanada.org


Check out BCF’s New Booklet!

Our new organizational booklet is now available. Thanks to Jan Perrier for the beautiful design and Cameron Brown, Jeff Belinger, Raewyn Robbins and Aurelia Darveau – Smith for the incredible pictures!


Photo of the Week – Bhutanese Flag

Today, we’re proud to present one of the national symbols of Bhutan.
The National Flag is divided diagonally into two equal halves. The upper yellow half signifies the secular power and authority of the King while the lower saffron-orange symbolizes the practice of religion and the power of Buddhism, manifested in the tradition of Drukpa Kagyu. The dragon signifies the name and the purity of the country while the jewels in its jewelled claws stand for the wealth and perfection of the country.


Interested in the history of the Bhutanese flag? Learn more at The Origin and Description of The National Flag and National Anthem of The Kingdom of Bhutan by The Centre for Bhutan Studies (2002, Dorji Penjore and Sonam Kinga).
We’d love to see your photos of Bhutan! Send your best snaps and photo credit information to info@bhutancanada.org

Vacancy Announcement: Royal Thimphu College

The Royal Thimphu College announces the requirement of faculty in various subjects for the Fall Semester starting 29th July 2013 as indicated below. We invite interested and highly motivated professionals (both Bhutanese and foreign nationals) to submit applications for  faculty positions in the following departments on full-time or part-time basis:

  • Demography
  • Commerce/business/management
  • Mathematics/statistics
  • Sociology
  • English
  • Political science
  • Economics
  • Environmental studies
  • Computer science
Interested applicants should submit their letter of interest, along with all the relevant documents mentioned below to:
The Director, Royal Thimphu College, Ngabiphu, Post Box 1122, Thimphu or Room # 56 at Chang Lam Plaza Building, Post Box 1122, Thimphu or Fax to # 351806 or 336051 or e-mail to hr@rtc.bt or academics@rtc.bt
The application should include the following:
  1. A covering letter clearly indicating why you wish to apply to RTC,
  2. A Curriculum Vita / Resume that contains contact details (such as address, e-mail, fax, phone/mobile numbers), education qualification, employment history, research and publication, and other relevant information,
  3. Photocopies of Class X, XII, undergraduate and postgraduate degree certificates and mark sheets,
  4. Copy of Identity card/citizenship card/ passport,
  5. Two reference letters including at least one from your former employer or academic mentor.  In case these are not available, the names and contact details of at least two referees who can be contacted should be provided,
  6. If currently employed, a No Objection Certificate from the employer (if selected without NoC, recruitment will be provisional till this document is received),
  7. Medical fitness certificate (to be submitted only if selected).
Terms and Conditions:
    1. The College has categorization of faculty (ranging from Associate Lecturer to Professor) depending on qualification and teaching experience.
    2. The salary package will range from Nu 25,000 to 51, 700 per month (lump sum), commensurate with qualification and experience.  The College will also provide a framework for faculty to carry out consulting work and conduct research.
    3. Limited numbers of houses are available on campus. Housing preference will be given to the expatriates.
    4. All other terms and conditions will all be as per the RTC Service Manual and the contract agreement that will be signed after the selection.
For more information, please CLICK HERE or call the Human Resource Manager at 351801(EXT 118).
Interested in teaching in Bhutan for 2014?
Application officially opens on May 1st!
Learn more at www.teachinbhutan.org

Spotlight on District Series – Trashigang Dzongkhag

Today is the first installment of our “Spotlight on Districts” series, in which we will be delving into the unique and special qualities of Bhutan’s Dzongkhags. With recruitment nearing for 2014 teacher placements, we thought it would be informative to give our future teachers a look into possible areas they could be teaching, highlighting features of specific districts along with stories from past teachers in that area.

Trashigang is known for its breath-taking views; seen here is Rangjung Woesel Choeling Monastery. Photo Credit: Vicky & Ian.
This week’s district is the Trashigang Dzongkhag in the heart of Eastern Bhutan. This remote region is at the foot of steep wooded valleys and is one of the largest Dzongkhag in the country, having the densest population in Bhutan. The main market of Trashigang is home to a handsome collection of shops, bars, hotels and small restaurants. The climate is warm and equitable, and the area is rich in tropical crops and fruits in which locals are dependent on these agricultural activities for their livelihood. Trashigang is home of the protected Sakteng Wildlife Sanctuary, which was created to protect the Migoi, or more commonly the Bhutanese Yeti.
Vicky & Ian in Rangjung

In Trashigang, Rangjung, a fairly new planned town and one of the warmest places in the district, is home to two schools, Rangjung LSS, a separate school for pre-primary to grade 8 students, and Rangjung HSS, a boarding school for students from grades 9 to 12. Ian Swift and Vicky Chartres, two of our 2011- 2012 teachers taught at these schools. Ian and Vicky discuss on their blog their most favourite things about their district and schools, noting their passion for teaching and experiences with the Bhutanese educational system. The students, according to Ian and Vicky, were a wonderful blend of innocence, motivated curiosity and diligence in which they both became very fond of their home classes.

Vicky and Ian had this to say about the sights in Trashigang: The scenery and spectacular rituals, festivals, and ceremonies are burned in our memories. For the past month we have been savouring long last looks at the everyday sights that have punctuated our days, whilst simultaneously making the effort to return to favourite local spots. I can no longer imagine a landscape without towering prayer flags, giant prayer wheels, ancient chortens, majestic monasteries, or forbidding Dzongs. Tashi Delek from In the Shadow of the Mountains

Other schools in the district include Kanglung Primary School, in which Ashley Huffmon began teaching in 2012 and is currently living and teaching for the 2013 year in the heart of Kanglung in the central village. Ashley reflects on how “living” has changed her life forever, in which she lives in a small apartment in the Upper Market of Kanglung in Trashigang. Read more from Ashley at her blog Huffmon in the Himalayas.

Students from the Trashigang District

Another teacher in Trashigang, Nick Morris, who taught at Khaling HSS, says the essential qualities of successful teachers in Bhutan depend on one’s flexibility: 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. You must keep in the mindset of “going with the flow”.

Trashigang is just one of the districts our teachers are placed in so stay tuned for more District Spotlights! Read more about the district and schools at the above teacher blogs and be sure to keep your eyes on our live application date, opening May 1st!