Blog of the Week – Chamgang Community Guiding Program

A few weeks ago we posted about BCF teacher Matt Stretton’s Junior Guiding Program that was featured in Kuensel Online. Since then, Matt has written a short post about some of the in-class activities he used to prepare students for the Program he ran in Bhutan. Included are some photo’s from the day, so take a look at Chamgang Community Guiding Program!

Photo Credit: Matt Stretton - Trees of Chamgang Worksheet
Photo Credit: Matt Stretton – Trees of Chamgang Information Sheet

First of all we brainstormed and discussed what kinds of activities we could offer to our guests as part of a visit, then settled on three of the most interesting and achievable: a visit to a traditional rammed-mud house, a visit to the local goempa and a guided walk in the forest. Next, students engaged in a range of language and talk rich activities designed to equip them with the verbal skills and content knowledge necessary to guide guests during these three activities.

These activities included using flow charts to complete information sheets about Chamgang’ trees and houses, cloze activities to improve reading skills and content knowledge, essay reading, summarizing and note-taking to improve content knowledge and organisational skills, the learning of necessary vocabulary words, spelling practice and of course lots of role plays in which students either played the role of the guide or the guest.

To read more about Matt’s experience educating and living in Bhutan visit his blog at Bos Grunniens: Adventures In The Land of The Yak.

Photo of the Week – End of the year Class Pictures

This week our photos come from BCF teachers Kezia and Ashley! Final exams are coming up for students in Bhutan, and our teachers have been reflecting back on the past year spent educating their students. A few teachers will be returning for a second or third year, but some will be savouring their last few weeks with the people they have made lasting connections with, in the country that each has come to know and love.

Photo Credit: Ashley Lenzen - Nangkhor HSS - "Me and 35 of the reasons I'm staying in Bhutan next year..."
Photo Credit: Ashley Lenzen – Nangkhor HSS – “Me and 35 of the reasons I’m staying in Bhutan next year…”
Photo Credit: Zezia Zuber - Class VII Graduates of Zhemgang Lower Secondary School
Photo Credit: Zezia Zuber – Class VII Graduates of Zhemgang Lower Secondary School

Visit Kezia’s blog at Zuber Goes to Zhemgang and Ashley and her husband’s at Traveled Earth!

One hundred years of coverage of the Kingdom of Bhutan by National Geographic

Ever wondered what Bhutan was like over one hundred years ago? In 1914, National Geographic published its first article about the Himalayan kingdom of Bhutan: an account of explorations and surveys by John Claude White, a British Raj administrator and an accomplished amateur photographer. – Castles in the Air: Experiences and Journeys in Unknown Bhutan.

NGS Picture ID:1314757
Photograph by John Claude White

Today National Geographic continues to feature Bhutan as a travel destination, highlighting the nations timeless heritage and its unique progression.

“Bhutan has, across the century, made unique progress as a nation. We have continually fortified the values of our traditions and cultural heritage, and the essence of what was observed of our country, a hundred years ago, still remains.” – Queen Jetsun Pema Wangchuck.

Check out National Geographic’s most recent articles in celebration of their one hundred years of coverage. Conversation with Bhutan’s Young “Dragon King” and Queen of Bhutan Celebrates National Geographic’s Anniversary Coverage.

Birth Anniversary of His Majesty the Fourth King of Bhutan

Bhutan celebrated the 59th birth anniversary of His Majesty the Fourth King Jigme Singye Wangchuck yesterday! We join the nation in offering prayers for the beloved 4th King’s continued good health and long life. Tashi Delek!

Photo Credit: Tshering Tobgay Facebook Page
Photo Credit: Prime Minister Tshering Tobgay Facebook Page – Celebrations in Thimphu

Today is the Birth Anniversary of His Majesty the Fourth King of Bhutan. We celebrated at school with a cultural program in the morning and then held an Awards Night this evening. It was nice to honour the achievements of so many students (and teachers) today. Congratulations to all the awards recipients! The program was bittersweet – the celebration of the hard work of many was great, but it’s sad to see the year coming to an end already. -BCF teacher Ashley Lenzen

In order to commemorate the 60th birth year of His Majesty Jigme Singye Wangchuck Bhutan has declared 2015 Visit Bhutan Year! Check out the Events Calendar for all of the exciting happenings this upcoming year.

Photo(s) of the Week – Annual School Picnics

Nobody does picnics like the Bhutanese! As the school year is coming to an end, schools across Bhutan organize picnics with staff and students. BCF teacher Sarah shares some photos from Tshangkha Lower Secondary School’s fun filled day!

Choose a location + chop down trees for firewood + prepare advanced picnic team + chop veggies + make 5 different curries together as a school + hook up a water system to your semi-remote picnic spot + sing + play games = annual school picnic. One big team effort!Sarah Diamond

Photo Credit: Sarah Diamond
Photo Credit: Sarah Diamond – Tshangkha LSS End of Year Picnic
Photo Credit: Sarah Diamond - Tshangkha LSS End of Year Picnic
Photo Credit: Sarah Diamond
Photo Credit: Sarah Diamond
Photo Credit: Sarah Diamond

Kuensel Online – Junior Guiding Program

BCF teacher Matthew Stretton is currently teaching English at Yangchen Gatshel Lower Secondary School in Thimphu. Matt has been developing a Junior Guiding Program at his school to provide tourists with the opportunity to experience a glimpse into the traditions and culture in Bhutan, guided by the students! The idea for the program arose out of the many excellent experiences he and his wife Lucy had when visiting their students’ homes, or being guided by them through the local forests. 

Photo credit: Kuensal Online - Students and tourists interact during the tour program last Saturday
Photo Credit: Kuensel Online – Students and tourists interact during the tour program.

Among the tourists was the executive director of the Bhutan Canadian Foundation, Nancy Strickland, who suggested the students write down their experiences and also about the community.

“The program is a win-win situation, as the students improve their spoken English and the tourists get to learn about the community first hand,” she said.

Matt conducted the same program with a group of 20 tourists from Australia a week ago with class VII A students. “It was a success,” Matt said.

For those not familiar with Bhutan or Chamgang, it is a unique opportunity to see a slice of life that they wouldn’t otherwise get to see and a good chance to contribute to the education of the students here, he said.

Read more about the program from the Kuensel Online article – One Unique Program With Twin Objectives.

Bhutan: A Higher State of Being – The New York Times

The Kingdom of Bhutan may seem an unlikely place for bicycling culture, but today the sport  is taking root in the mountainous country! One of the reasons for the increased interest is Jigme Singye Wangchuck, Bhutan’s fourth Druk Gyalpo. He is an avid cyclist who can often be found biking the steep foothills that circle the capital city of Thimphu. Another reason is The Tour of the Dragon, one of the world’s most challenging bike races which takes place in Bhutan once a year. 

Photo Credit: Simon Roberts - Schoolchildren cheering a rider approaching the town of Wangdue Phodrang.
Photo Credit: Simon Roberts – Schoolchildren cheering a rider approaching the town of Wangdue Phodrang.
Photo Credit: Simon Roberts - A rider in the Tour of the Dragon.
Photo Credit: Simon Roberts – A rider in the Tour of the Dragon.

Whatever the reason, the current prime minster Tshering Tobgay says it best. “Gross National Happiness is about wholesome development. And cycling, like any worthy sport activity, is also about wholesome development. It is good for the soul, good for the body and good for happiness. You cannot love cycling and not be an environmentalist. It is one of the reasons we must encourage more cycling in Bhutan.”

Read the full New York Times Style Magazine article here: Bhutan: A Higher State of Being.