Mountain Echoes Festival

Held annually in Bhutan, Mountain Echoes is a small festival that celebrates literature, art, music and culture. The three day festival will take place in Thimphu from May 22 to 24 and is an initiative of the India-Bhutan foundation in association with Siyahi, a leading literary agency in India.

Photo Credit: National Geographic - Literary Panorama
Photo Credit: National Geographic – Literary Panorama

Bringing together writers, scholars, photographers, poets, musicians, and artists (to name a few), this festival will include performances from Bhutanese bands, film shows and exhibitions on Bhutanese textiles, and contemporary Bhutanese art.

“In our busy world, Bhutan stands out. It believes in happiness over wealth, nature over industry. It moves forward without forgetting where it came from. The Bhutanese way of life has greatly influenced our festival. We too believe that the beautiful things in life deserve to be preserved and Mountain Echoes is our small step in that direction.” – Indiegogo, Mountain Echoes Festival 2014

For more information and to keep informed about the festival, visit Mountain Echoes facebook page!

Photo of the Week – Famous Class 5

BCF teacher, Sarah Diamond, in her second year at Tshangkha LSS, shares some love and the occasional frustration on the life of a teacher.

Diamond, Sarah - Class 5
Photo Credit: Sarah – The famous class 5s.

I love to laugh. I’m good at laughing. So, more often than not I have to maintain my role as a teacher, to struggle to keep these students on the mountain, focusing on the task at hand, as I use every ounce of my energy not to roll on the floor in complete giggles at their jokes. ~ Sarah Diamond, “Don’t mind the driver, he keeps sleeping, but I’ll keep him awake

Blog of the Week – Words Fail Me (or What It’s Like to Live in Bhutan)

“Putting this experience into words seems an impossible chore, and has from the moment I arrived. It’s just so different in so many amazing and powerful ways.”

It has been said that the best way to get to know a country is by experiencing it. BCF teacher Ashley Lenzen and husband Mike have done an amazing job sharing what life is like for them in Bhutan. Her most recent post  Words Fail Me (or What It’s Like to Live in Bhutan) proves that words have not at all failed her, though it is the experiences and people that have the most impact.

Photo Credit: Ashley Lenzen - Ashley and two of her Class 9 Students
Photo Credit: Ashley Lenzen – Ashley and two of her Class 9 Students
Photo Credit: Ashley Lenzen - Village of Nangkor
Photo Credit: Ashley Lenzen – Village of Nangkor

“I am so lucky to be here doing what I am doing. As promised, this post didn’t do Bhutan much justice… but, unless you came yourself, I don’t think you could ever truly understand. Maybe that’s why I can’t seem to explain it… it needs to be experienced.”  – Ashley

Read the whole entry as Ashley shares her experiences on Traveled Earth.

Happy International Day of Happiness!

What makes you happy? Today marks the second annual International Happiness Day! Recognizing the relevance of happiness and well-being as universal goals and aspirations in the lives of human beings around the world, the General Assembly of the United Nations proclaimed today the Day of Happiness.

Photo Credit: Ashley Lenzen - Smiling Students
Photo Credit: Ashley Lenzen – Smiling Students

See how Bhutan has played a role in creating this celebration with this article from the International Buisness Times – UN International Day of Happiness 2014: A Probe into How Bhutanese Concept of ‘Gross National Happiness’ Gave Birth to this Day

Tashi Delek from all of us at BCF!

Blog of the Week – Literary Clubs

Along with another full school year, comes opportunities for students to participate in an assortment of clubs! Our current group of BCF teachers are nothing short of amazing. Not only do they teach classes six days a week, but they also facilitate various clubs within their schools. BCF teacher Carmelita has been engaging her students in a Literary Club and Vicky in a Peer Support Learning Club.

Photo Credit: Vicky Chartres
Photo Credit: Vicky Chartres
Photo Credit: Vicky Chartres
Photo Credit: Vicky Chartres

“After some discussion about why they loved reading, how they select books to read, and what they thought would motivate students to read more and better, I distributed my few books and challenged them to decide what age the books were suited to and to read them and come up with activities and questions they could use with primary students, to match the book they had been given.” Vicky – Samtengang MSS Peer Support Learning Club

“So, how did the club go? I got every student to talk, move, and most importantly, laugh. I used to have a poster that I hung up in my classroom, it had a huge green smiling frog, and it said, “A day without laughter is a day wasted.” I’ve had a bunch of wasted days recently because I haven’t felt like my healthy, happy-go-lucky self, but I swear, just put me in a room with a bunch of open-minded kids, and I’m in my element.” Carmelita – Club Randomness

Follow along with Carmelita on her blog Two Small Feet and Vicky and Ian on their blog In the Shadow of the Mountains.

Punakha Drubchen and Tshechu

PunakhaTshechu

The five day Punakha Drubchen is followed by the three-day Punakha Tshechu from March 6th -13th. The Punakha Drubchen witnesses a dramatic recreation of the scene from the 17th century battle with the Tibetan army, and the Punakha Tshechu was introduced in order to better preserve Buddhist teachings and keep alive the noble deeds of Zhabdrung Rimpoche.

These two festivals not only play an important role in preserving Bhutan’s rich culture and traditions but also provide devout Buddhists with an opportunity for prayer and pilgrimage. They reflect the richness of the Bhutanese cultural heritage and are very special in the eyes and hearts of both Bhutanese and tourists who visit Bhutan. – Tourism Council of Bhutan

Our teachers often have the opportunity to visit several festivals a year, Julie Strasheim highlighted a bit of the colourful dance at the Domchoe (festival) at Trongsa Dzong.

Photo of the Week – Sharing Bhutan with Family

It can be quite hard to explain what it’s truly like to live and teach in Bhutan to those who haven’t experienced it – that’s why, among many other reasons, it is always a delight to have family and friends visit our teachers in Bhutan!

Diamond, Sarah - Sarah and Gabe, Tiger's Nest

Here are a few fun photos of Sarah Diamond, who is in her second year at Tshangkha LSS in Trongsa, and was joined for a visit by her father Harvey and brother Gabe.

Diamond, Sarah - Archer story telling.

Diamond, Sarah - Dinner with family

Diamond, Sarah - Sitting Buddha, Jumping Diamonds

All Photo Credits: The Diamond Family.

And check out Sarah’s new blog – Sarah Out and Abhut!

Blog of the Week – In the Beginning

Ever wonder what the first few days (and weeks) of teaching in Bhutan is like? As it turns out, there are many similarities to other schools across the world, and then of course, some uniquely Bhutanese items.

Swift, Ian - Samtengang PS students line up

Vicky and Ian seem to be settling in well at Samtengang MSS and PS respectively, and have shared a number of photos and a briefing of what they’ve been up to as school begins!

 I guess the start of the school year anywhere involves a lot of sorting, dividing, allocating, volunteering and being volunteered.

Samtengang Primary School is no different. ~ Read more of Vicky and Ian’s start to the school year at In the Beginning

Swift, Ian - Samtengang PS students & teacher

Photo Credit: Vicky and Ian.