Photo of the Week – Cars and Cows

A cow decides to take a break and parks itself between two cars in this week’s Photo of the Week!

I can’t back out because there’s a cow in my way!

BCF teacher Brick Root has captured this amusing moment and says that it is quite normal to see in Bhutan!

“The acceptance of all living critters is prevalent here. The sight of the cow parallel parked in perfect position between two cars provided me with a long and wonderful laugh. It is hard to capture in a snapshot but I still chuckle when it crosses my mind. Cows are a constant form of speed control on the roads, they have right of way and do indeed seem to be oblivious to anything so trivial as traffic.”

“If there is a possibility of the cows wandering into nearby vegetable gardens a stake is driven into the ground to keep them securely tied. Often they will be simply tied to a bush and it is not unusual to see a cow wandering around with an uprooted bush at the other end of their rope.” (Brick Root, Dogs and……)

Blog of the Week – Class Picnic Time!

What happens when your students ask for a class picnic? You say yes, of course! BCF Teacher Heather Robertson took her 9B students of Chukha HSS for a good ol’ class picnic! Everyone was ready and willing to help out: one student collected cash, everyone brought a small bag of rice, and Heather herself went grocery shopping with some of her students. They had to make two trips to Heather’s home in order to deposit all the copious food!

“One student had a tent, so a few boys put it up the night before. Then 2 of them slept in it to claim our area of the the school picnic grounds.”

It was an early wake-up for all on the day of the picnic!

“I rang my alarm for 5 am as they had informed me that was when they would start arriving to pick up the food and wood and pots from my place. They actually arrived at 6 am and it was a bit chaotic, no fire, fire, no wood, more wood.”

As the day progressed everyone enjoyed themselves preparing the delicious food, eating the delicious food, and getting in some good workouts from playing some games,

“The morning hours from about 7 to 11 were spent preparing food and having a second cup of tea with biscuits.  We played frisbee and the boys also played football. (soccer)  A bunch of them got bamboo for targets and made spears for a throwing game they play.  Darts (khuru), archery and throwing stones are the popular games. Although they really enjoyed frisbee, the plastic discs seemed a bit incongruous.”

The food alone looked incredible!  Heather even wrote a separate blog on the food preparation! Check it out!

Sam Blyth and Nancy Strickland receive Bhutan National Order of Merit

National Order of Merit: His Majesty The King, yesterday, awarded the National Order of Merit, Gold, to Sam Blyth and Nancy Strickland, in recognition of their personal commitment to promote relations between Bhutan and Canada, and their contributions in the field of education for over 25 years.

Kuensel, National Order of Merit - Sam&Nancy

Sam Blyth is the Chair of the Bhutan Canada Foundation and the Honorary Consul of Bhutan in Toronto, Canada. Nancy Strickland is the Executive Director of the Bhutan Canada Foundation.

The award also honours the numerous hard working and dedicated teachers recruited through Bhutan Canada Foundation, many of whom continue to teach in schools in rural Bhutan, for their valuable contributions to the development of education in the country.

Over 50 teachers have been recruited to teach English, Math and Science in schools in rural Bhutan since the establishment of Bhutan Canada Foundation in February 2009.

Bhutan Canada Foundation carries on the long association between Bhutan and Canada in the education sector that started 50 years ago when Father Mackey came to Bhutan in 1963.

Republished from Kuensel Online, National Order of Merit.

Balloons of Bhutan

In 2007, artist Jonathan Harris travelled to Bhutan to explore the Gross National Happiness paradigm. Balloons of Bhutan documents his effort to capture “a portrait of happiness in the last Himalayan kingdom” through breathtaking and inspiring photos and videos, catalogued on an interactive multimedia website.

Balloons of Bhutan - Harris

Harris asked 117 people of various ages and backgrounds, five questions pertaining to happiness: what makes them happy, what is their happiest memory, what is their favourite joke, what is their level of happiness between 1 and 10, and, if they could make one wish, what would it be. He then inflated a number of balloons based on their level of happiness and wrote each person’s wish on the balloon of their favourite colour. On the final night of his journey, he strung up the inflated balloons at Dochula Pass, bobbing amidst Buddhist prayer flags.

Explore the whole stunning project at Balloons of Bhutan.

Photo of the Week – Arts and Crafts

This week’s photo comes from Andrea’s blog! Andrea thought it would be a great—not to mention fun!—learning experience for her students if she incorporated some arts and crafts into her teachings! Andrea teaches them new English vocabularies through ‘her how-to-make’ instructions all the while building up their confidence in their art skills!

Students become little Princesses!
Students become little Princesses!
…and little Princes!

“It has sparked a ‘crafting’ revolution here – the children found a series of art and craft ideas books and they have been hot property for library borrowing the last couple of months. I love that they make little projects and bring them in for me.”

Check out some more creative art works at Andrea’s blog!

Bhutan’s Hoop Dreams

Photo credit: Kuni Takahashi for The New York Times
Photo credit: Kuni Takahashi for The New York Times

Never known as a sporting powerhouse, Bhutan is looking to change its luck by training a national basketball team. As reported this week in the article “In Bhutan, a Bid to Turn Basketball From a Royal Sport to a National One” in the New York Times, the country is hoping that a national basketball team may give them the best shot to win their first ever international sporting match.

Read the rest of the article. 


Blog of the Week – First Young Authors Conference at YGLSS

The inspirational teacher – it’s often about trying something different and letting the students take over. Matt Stretton, currently teaching English at Yangchen Gatshel Lower Secondary School, recently had his students develop pieces of written work for the inaugural English Language Young Author’s Conference. Read the planning process leading up to the successful day here -> Welcome to the First Young Author’s Conference at YGLSS!

Photo Credit: Matt Stretton – Sangay and Dawa with their poems

The intention behind the conference is to give students an authentic audience for their work other than a teacher with a red pen, so that they really get to see and experience the benefits of writing as a valuable and unique form of expression. Students were allowed to choose their own genre of writing and in my classes students decided to write poems, comic books, folk tales, narrative essays, persuasive essays, songs and short stories.

We began the process with a planning questionnaire to help the students think more deeply about their writing…Students were also encouraged to set a goal for at least one aspect of their writing that they wanted to improve upon during the project. 

Photo Credit: Matt Stretton – Sital reading her story, The Blind Girl, to Class VI and VII students

The last step in the process was for the students to write their third and final draft and publish their work by presenting it at the Young Author’s Conference. The conference itself involved setting up the students’ classrooms as exhibition galleries by arranging the tables into a nice, inviting circular shape, removing the chairs and having students stand behind their work proudly displayed on the tables in front of them. Teachers were invited to bring their classes, school leaders were invited to come and help with the marking of students’ presentation and in the case of my classes, my visiting parents and mother in law were also invited as ‘special guests’. 

As for the young authors, these students got a huge buzz out of having so many people, especially their peers and some special guests, read and comment on their work. As they had been allowed to choose their own topic and level of difficulty, and had been given lots of structured support to correct and improve their work, all students were able to present something that they felt confident about and that they knew they had worked hard to perfect.

To read more about Matt’s experiences in Bhutan, visit his blog: Bos Grunniens: Adventures In The Land of The Yak.

Photo of the Week – Chillies in Bhutan

Chillies are a staple of the Bhutanese diet. This time of year in Bhutan, chillies are left out to dry in the sun. They can be seen on rooftops, on the ground, and hanging in all sorts of various ways! Check out some of the ways in which these spicy staples are left to dry below, courtesy of BCF teacher Heather Robertson.

Photo Credit: Heather Robertson - Chilis drying on a roof
Photo Credit: Heather Robertson – On a rooftop all of the bright red spots
Photo Credit: Heather Robertson - Chilis drying in a window
Photo Credit: Heather Robertson – Threaded and hanging around a window.

Looking for a little more spice? We can’t seem to get enough! Learn more at Can you pass the chilli test?, What The World Eats, Prepare your tastebuds!, Bhutan’s tears of joy over chillies, and Bhutan Fun Facts: Chillies of Bhutan.

Have photos of Bhutan you’d like to share? Send your snaps with photo credit information to

BCF Teacher Featured in Australian Women’s Weekly

BCF teacher Andrea Chisholm has made the news in her home country of Australia! Andrea, who is a primary teacher at Chumey MSS, has been living in the rural area of Bumthang, Bhutan with her family for the 2013 school year. The Chisholm family are featured in The Australian Women’s Weekly, “I earn just $100 a week and I’ve never been happier” (By Zoe Arnold).

Photo Credit: Australian Women's Weekly - Andrea, her husband Bob, and sons Xavier and Remy
Photo Credit: Australian Women’s Weekly – Andrea, her husband Bob, and sons Xavier and Remy

“Most of my days here are spent with a class of six- and-seven-year-old children, who are eagerly learning English under my watch,” Andrea says.“I feel very proud of them: at the beginning of the year they had no English between them, and now they understand a lot.”

“Life here is like going back a hundred years in time, there’s no commercialisation, no advertising, just clean, fresh mountain air and a much simpler way of life.”

Read the full interview at “I earn just $100 a week and I’ve never been happier“!

To read more about Andrea’s journey in Bhutan, visit her blog From Down Under to the Top of the World.