The teachers have returned to Paro to debrief their experiences before they leave to go home. Everyone had a great experience. Looking forward to the next Reading Program in Spring 2018!
This blog was written by Joy Vardy – Reading Program 2017 – who coordinated a large shipment of books to Lobesa.
I have to share this little anecdote. It illustrates how precious books are in Bhutan.
I had donated a 4000 book library to Lobesa school in central Phunakha and shipped it to Bhutan from Australia. I was back in the country for a month to set it up. Children had been sent from class throughout the day to help me in the library. They arrive in hoard proportions at lunch break and after school. When the room suddenly grows dark I know there is a new gang of children outside the window and door craning in.
The kids here show amazing initiative. They pick up the task at hand instantly and quickly organise new comers or younger students to do what needs to be done. They display great responsibility. I’ve had them fixing spine labels, alphabetically ordering by author surname, matching printed borrowing cards to books among a dozen other jobs. They are so keen!
One young girl – she is perhaps 11 years of age, helped me all afternoon in the library. She was a fast worker and learned quickly. She deftly organised new comers to tasks. At lunch she wanted to stay on but before I shooed her out to eat she picked up a book I had put aside. I was going to remove it from the collection; it was a girlie princess cartoon book. She was the last child to leave. It obviously appealed so I said she could have it.
Her face was ecstatic. ‘Really? I can have this? For me? ‘
“Yes, but Shh !,” I said winking, finger to my lips. “Have you many books at home?” I asked.
“No,” she said. “I have an old reader and a book of stories.” The reader once belonged to her adult sister and she knew the text of the story book by heart.
The princess cartoon book stayed on her lap all afternoon. When she moved around the library it went with her. I wish now that I had given her a decent piece of literature instead of a trashy cartoon novel; such a simple thing, to double her library with the giving of a reject book.
I would cull much of the existing collection in Lobesa. The books are tattered, dated – often with torn pages and missing front covers. I would let the kids take these books home. For many that book may become one of 3 or 4 titles they own and read until it is known by heart. For them, it would be gold.
I was finishing up for the day at 4:00pm with Phunstho, the Library assigned teacher when 20 or so kids turned up at the door offering to help. These were ‘town kids’ who lived locally and did not face a bus ride or a long walk home to a farm. They finished their after school chores in the classroom and came up to help in library.
“Can we come back before school tomorrow?” they ask. “That would be wonderful!”
By the time we begin library classes next week these kids will already be skilled in alphabetical order, know the difference between all the sections of a library as well as recognise the first three letters of an author’s name. Most importantly, they will know that books are placed on a shelf vertically, with the spine facing out, replacing the current habit of tossing a book onto a haphazard stack on a shelf.
I will not have been able to organise the library without the help of these children and when it is set up will be a gift of quality literature they and their teachers have never seen before in their lives. For this one young girl, the gift of a single book is a third of a library and it is probably memorised already.
Events like the annual marathon, school Rimdro, sport tournaments, school picnic and more bring the MLSS, (Mongar Lower Secondary School) community together. See the full video here, Slideshow.
Have you ever heard of a Puja? Well, a Puja is an expressions of “honour, worship and devotional attention”. Current BCF Teacher Catherine O’Brien describes her time at the annual Puja with members of her community. Sit tight because she tells stories of drinking from human skulls and watching cow skin dry! Catherine ties her Puja experience back to the experience of Thanksgiving. Reminding us all that while cultures are very different we all are human beings and community, celebration and thankfulness are at the roots of all cultures. Read more about her time here: Cat In Bhutan
Current BCF teacher Megan Haskin has a series on her fantastic blog Korbay Delay that profiles teachers now teaching abroad. Her most recent feature was of Reese Ishmael, another BCF teacher in Bhutan. Check out the interview at Teacher Abroad: Reese Ishmael.
“My life here is rather simple, just as I imagined it would be. The community is close and kind, eager to help and compassionate in every sense of the word. People here don’t sweat the small stuff and speak their minds freely. Time works on a completely different scale, too—affectionately referred to by locals as BST (Bhutan Stretchable Time). I spend my free hours writing or taking hikes, eating with friends, or participating in social gatherings. I like to walk into town from time to time to pick up vegetables from the market or just meander and people watch. On the odd holiday I will catch a ride with someone to see neighboring provinces, fulfilling my need for adventure. It certainly took some time to adapt to things, but now that I am familiar with it all, I have really come to appreciate it.”
Bhutan’s Institute of Language and Culture Studies, a college of the Royal University of Bhutan, welcomes applications for 2 English instructor positions: one begins in July 2015, and the other in February 2016. An MA is required, but there is no age limit for foreign lecturers.
Learn more here:Vacancy-Announcement-2015
A team of 100 volunteers in Bhutan has set a new world record by planting 49,672 trees in one hour. The BBC reports that Bhutan’s planters gathered in the capital of Thimphu for their feat, which Guinness World Records confirmed. Bravo Bhutan and all of the planters, what a great way to show commitment to the environment on social forestry day!
- Two-week orientation in the capital city, Thimphu
- Support from both Toronto office and Bhutan field office
- Mid-year retreat
- Paid position, with an English curriculum
- Local Bhutanese salary (more than enough to comfortably live in Bhutan)
- Fascinating and unique culture that is extremely welcoming to foreigners
- Accommodation, visas, work permit, flights are all secured with BCF’s staff
- Bursaries, fundraising assistance and optional fundraising program to cover associated costs
- Strong alumni network and pre-departure assistance with other teachers
- Daily tariff is waived for all teachers
- National curriculum, created in conjunction with Canadian consultants
- Entire curriculum is online for access prior to arrival
- Concept of Gross National Happiness is infused into the curriculum
The Tourism Council of Bhutan is dedicating a Photo Campaign to the 4th King His Majesty Jigme Singye Wangchuck for giving the Kingdom of Bhutan the opportunity to pursue their own path to happiness. The Bhutan Photo Campaign is a creative and fun way to allow everyone to define happiness through photographs. Anyone can submit photos taken both inside and outside of Bhutan.
To take part:
- You must register with a valid email address
- The photograph size should not exceed 8 MB and should be at least 800X500 pixel
- Tagline should not have more than 40 characters
- The photograph must be free from any text or watermark. The photograph should not include the email address, website address or name of any individual(s)
Learn more about the photo campaign and register to enter! –> Bhutan Photo Campaign.
In the spirit of Asha or “hope,” the Asian Institute at the University of Toronto invites you to a breakfast fundraiser to aid victims of the earthquake in Nepal. Click here to learn more about the event. We hope to see you there!
May 13, 8:00 – 10:30 AM (drop in)
Munk School of Global Affairs
315 Bloor Street West