Homestay in Haa by Matt Stretton

In the March-April 2014 issue of Druk Air’s Tashi Delek Magazine, BCF teacher Matt Stretton writes about his time spent in Haa Valley and celebrating Lomba with a local family…

“My interest in Haa was first stirred by my colleague and Dzongkha lopen, Thinley Pelden, himself a proud Haap (as people from Haa are known). Thinley told me in detail about the special Haap New Year, called Lomba, which is celebrated on the 29th day of the 10th month of the Bhutanese calendar. After hearing his impassioned descriptions of how his childhood New Years were spent making karma-altering offerings of dough effigies and eating voluminous quantities of hand-crafted buckwheat dumplings, I knew I had to go and experience this unique celebration for myself.”

Check out Matt’s previous article in Tashi Delek – Wrestling with Cultural Diffusion and his blog Bos Grunniens: Adventures In The Land of The Yak.

ILCS Vacancy Announcement

VACANCY ANNOUNCEMENT

The Institute of Language and Culture Studies (ILCS), a campus of the Royal University of Bhutan (RUB), is currently seeking a lecturer for its English Department. This opportunity is for a year-long contract beginning July 2014, with a possible option to renew.

Download full job description at ILCS Vacancy – April 2014.

Interested candidates – Please submit a cover letter and resume to Dawa Lhamo at dawalhamo.ilcs@rub.edu.bt

The Globe and Mail – Discover Bhutan

The Globe and Mail featured a travel article on Bhutan which you can read at – Discover a kingdom where happiness rules.

Photo Credit: Tim Johnson
Photo Credit: Tim Johnson – Globe and Mail

“Over the next days, we would visit many places that seemed either from the past or some sort of fantasy land. In Punakha, I visited an otherworldly dzong, a spectacular 17th-century fortress built between two rivers that now serves as a Buddhist temple and the seat of regional administrative power…”

House Hunters International – Let Me See Bhutan

BCF alumni teacher Andrea Chisholm and her family were recently featured in an episode of HGTV’s show House Hunters International: Off The Grid!

Photo Credit: Andrea Chisolm
Photo Credit: Andrea Chisholm
Photo Credit: Andrea Chisholm
Photo Credit: Andrea Chisholm

After reading about Bhutan, Andrea becomes sold on the idea of moving there. She just has to get her husband, Bob and their two small children on board. When she finds a teaching program that will give her a job and help find her family a home, they make the long journey together. But in Bhutan basic living is the norm and with her husband now taking the role as Mr. Mom, this family must choose a home that helps them to experience Bhutanese life off the grid, while still making it comfortable for their young sons.

If you didn’t catch it live stay tuned for the video which we’ll post on the blog, and in the meantime check out behind the scenes from Andrea’s blog in Action! Part #1 and Action! Part #2.

Destination Druk Yul 2: BCF Teacher Meet Up

Bajo is a newly planned town, located in Wangdiphodrang and serves as a meeting spot (and an urban setting) for our western-situated BCF teachers to connect, access internet, and purchase supplies and groceries.

DSC00415
Ian Swift, Mike Lenzen, Bret Parrish, Sam Blyth, Karma Tshering,
Arwen Seccombe, Jessica Sanchez-Carreon, Vicky Chartres, Jenna Reynolds.

Bajo is the urban town for the surrounding communities and schools of Dechentsemo, Bjibjokha, Samtengang, and Gaselo.

We had the pleasure of arranging a lunch and social visit with several of the teachers in the region and also the Chairman and Founder of The Bhutan Canada Foundation, Sam Blyth. This allowed for an informal and enjoyable time for our teachers and staff to connect, share stories, discuss the positives and difficulties of teaching in Bhutan, and to just relax and process the incredible opportunity to be welcomed to live and teach in Bhutan.

The remaining BCF teachers who live in communities too far away to attend were sorely missed!!

Interested in Bajo? Check out Bajo and Bananas from BCF Alumni, Iman Mefleh.

http://imaninbhutan.blogspot.com/2012/03/bajo-and-bananas.html

Destination Druk Yul 2: Thimphu Town

DSC00226

Here, at 7,874ft, is where you’ll encounter the hustle and bustle of Bhutan’s largest city, the capital Thimphu, with a population of nearly 100,000 and growing rapidly. In the past ten years alone, Thimphu has seen fast-paced development and a population boom, resulting in the beginning of traffic congestion and an influx of tourists. Thimphu works diligently to ensure that it’s growth is in-line with the concept of Gross National Happiness and sustainable development as it remains without any major commercial brand stores or fast food chains and continues the aura of an incredibly friendly and welcoming city, easy to get around, and with plenty to see and enjoy.

Our BCF teachers always begin their adventure in Thimphu as they attend a two-week orientation to acclimatise to the culture and environment and to set up their lives for the year ahead. Popular sites to note:

DSC00203

Memorial Chorten is located on Doeboom Lam (the BCF Thimphu office is just up the hill!). The chorten was built in 1974 to honour the 3rd King of Bhutan, His Majesety Jigme Dorji Wangchuck and was commissioned by the King’s mother, Her Majesty Ashi Phuntsho Choden Wangchuck.

DSC00219

Bhutan Textile Museum (at the end of Norzin Lam) promotes Bhutan’s achievements in the field of textile arts and encourages the continued tradition of weaving and traditional textile patterns. Textiles from the 1600s onwards abound with a rich display of ornate kiras and ghos.

DSC00234

Buddha Dordenma Statue measures in at a height of 51.5 meters, making it one of the largest statues of Buddha in the world. The statue is made of bronze and is gilded in gold. 125,000 smaller Buddha statues have been placed within and is located atop a hill in Kuenselphodrang Nature Park, overlooking the Southern entrance to Thimphu Valley.

DSC00199

Norzin Lam is the city’s main thoroughfare – in terms of activities and businesses and is always hopping (by Bhutanese standards). Along this road, you will find tourist souvenir shops, hotels, and the icon of Thimphu City – the traffic police managing vehicular movements at the busy intersection! (No traffic lights in Bhutan!).

Seasons

Seasons Pizzeria – one of the most popular food spots in Thimphu (with good reason!) specialising in creative and unique pizzas but also delicious baked goods. BCF Executive Director Nancy is such a fan that a pizza is even named after her!

ambient-cafe-from-outside

Ambient Café is another incredibly popular place for our BCF teachers and a regular hangout whenever they are in Thimphu. Not only for the free WiFi, strong coffee, and tasty snacks but for the incredible hospitality of the owners, husband and wife, Letho and Junu.

Interested in learning more about the fascinating and welcoming city of Thimphu? Check out the links below!
BCF Spotlight on Thimphu
Andrea Chisholm – First Impressions
Andrea Williams – Thimphu Map
Randall Krantz – Chilip’s Guide to Thimphu

Destination Druk Yul 2: Flying to Bhutan

The BCF Toronto office has arrived to Bhutan!

ParoAirport
Paro Airport.

Getting to Bhutan is not an easy task – especially coming from North America. Our teachers often have a transit time of between 25 and 50 hours (and 3 or 4 flights) but once they arrive to Paro, they already know it’s worth it.

DSC00193
A view of Thimphu’s main drag.

From North America, there are three main ports to choose from to meet up with Drukair. These are Delhi, Bangkok, and Kathmandu. All three are markedly different from Bhutan and offer a huge contrast in terms of population, urbanisation, and pollution. Whatever port you choose, it is an exciting transit as it introduces a multitude of unique and spectacular cultures.

DSC00130
Kathmandu, Nepal.

The flight path from Kathmandu to Paro offers breathtaking views of the mighty Himalayas, including passing Mount Everest at nearly eye-level. It’s truly a wonderful way to begin a trip to Bhutan!

MtEverestDrukAir
The view of Mount Everest from Drukair’s flight Kathmandu to Paro.

Now here in Thimphu, our Destination Druk Yul adventure truly begins! Make sure to keep up as we document our daily doings and begin the trek across country to visit BCF teachers in their communities.

Destination Druk Yul 2: BCF Toronto heads to Bhutan!

The teachers of 2014 have now been in the field for the past four months, adapting to their new lives in their schools and communities and now BCF Toronto is paying them a visit!

JennaBCF

On Saturday, BCF Toronto Program Manager, Jenna (↑ that’s me!) will begin a very much anticipated journey to visit BCF teachers at their placements across rural Bhutan.

Like all the teachers before, getting to Bhutan is as much an adventure in and of itself! I’ll be flying from Toronto to Philadelphia to Doha to Kathmandu and then finally to Paro. Once there, BCF Toronto and BCF Thimphu staff will happily finally meet in country and enjoy Paro Tsechu and a meeting with representatives from the Ministry of Education in Thimphu. Following that, we have an ambitious driving plan mapped out to visit nearly half of the teachers as far as Bumthang.

Follow along on our BCF Bhutan Google Map:


View BCF Map of Bhutan in a larger map

And I’ll be blogging the entire trip! (As much as internet and driving allows – access to internet and electricity can be hard to come by in some of the more rural areas where our teachers are). We’ll do our best though to keep you informed and to share our teachers’ experiences! So follow along with stories on the blog, photos on Flickr, and updates to Twitter and Facebook!

Next Up – Arriving in Nepal!

Apply to Teach in Bhutan – One Month Away!

Check your calenders teachers! Only a month until you can apply to Teach in Bhutan!

Photo Credit: Alumni BCF Teacher Heather Robertson
Photo Credit: Alumni BCF Teacher Heather Robertson

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?

Then start prepping your application!!

Application opens May 1st, 2014. Learn more and apply online at www.TeachInBhutan.org
Questions? Contact us at teach@bhutancanada.org