What a year 2013 has been! As the new BCF teachers get ready to depart for Bhutan, our class of 2013 reflect on their last few days in the Kingdom of Bhutan.
“A year in Bhutan, an opportunity few will have and an experience anyone would cherish. How does one finish the year well? For me it was more than a month of time to explore and say farewells to people and places.” – Brick Root, Farewell Tour
“I have been saying goodbye for two weeks and am now on the plane to Bangkok. Dawa Dem called me as I was taxiing to the runway, for about the fifth time in two days. I almost had tears, but the last few days have been so wonderfully fulfilling and peaceful that I am content. It was moving to fly away from the great snowcapped peaks of the Himalaya.” – Heather Robertson, Thoughts and Transitions
To all the teachers who have given so much to Bhutan this past year, we thank you and wish you the best in all your future endeavours!
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).
“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.”
Last month our BCF teacher Matthew Stretton, at Yangchen Gatshel LSS in Thimphu, celebrated his Birthday Bhutanese style! Accompanied by his wife, students, colleagues, and friends, Matt’s birthday sounded like one to remember.
The actual morning of my birthday began with an amazing breakfast of Australian avocado on toast – my first avo in 6 months…..this was followed by the hilarity of having every other student I met on the way to school fold themselves in half and shouting: “Good Morning, Sir! Happy Birthday, Sir!” in a charmingly almost militaristic fashion. I’m not sure how they all knew it was my birthday, Bhutanese osmosis I suspect…
Proper festivities were scheduled to start at 3:30pm with all of the school staff (around 30 people) invited to our place for a typical Bhutanese afternoon tea-cum-booze up-cum-dinner party…..People crowded into our ample but relatively small lounge room and the strict Bhutanese order of serving tea, then ara, then other miscellaneous booze then food began. This was all done with much merriment and lewd innuendo (as per Bhutanese custom) and was only interrupted when everyone stopped to give me a present – something I protested against vehemently but had already been told by the teachers that buying a collective gift is ‘part of the culture out here’ and that their ‘minds would not be peace’ if they didn’t get me something. Turns out my gift was this snappy new gho which my buddy Sonam helped me put on with local adroitness.
The second BCF Summer Retreat was a success with teachers gathering at the River Lodge in Bumthang from 30th June to 3rd July 2013 to share and learn from each others’ experiences from the first half of the year.
Activities included a cultural tour of the beautiful Tang Valley of Bumthang and visits to the Membertsho (Burning Lake) and historical Orgenchholing Palace. The BCF teachers discussed their positive experiences, challenges, and what they have learned over the last six months. The retreat ended with a special dinner and good wishes for the rest of the summer break!
Applications are still open for the 2014 season soapply today if you haven’t already!