Blog of the Week – Teacher Abroad: Reese Ishmael

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.

Mongar LSS, Mongar.
Mongar LSS, Mongar.

“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.”

Blog of the Week – Picasso in Bhutan

Megan Haskin is teaching English at Rangjung LSS in succession of BCF teacher Travis. Last year Travis started an Art Club and Megan has gladly stepped in to continue the clubs success!

I now have over 40 children in my club and although I thought it would be total chaos it is the total opposite. They listen to my every word and focus all of their attention when creating their art works. The first words that left my mouth on the first day was a reminder that in art there is no right or wrong, everyone is good at art and everyone is different. The more different your art is, the better. – Megan Haskin, Picasso in Bhutan

Photo credit: Megan Haskin - Students
Photo credit: Megan Haskin – Students
Photo Credit: Megan Haskin - Finished Picasso Portraits
Photo Credit: Megan Haskin – Finished Picasso Portraits

For more stories of her teaching adventures follow Megan’s blog thehaskinjournal!

Blog of the Week – Cat in Bhutan

Continuing with our introduction to new teacher blogs, we bring you BCF teacher Catherine’s blog Cat in BhutanCatherine is teaching English at Dechentsemo MSS in Punakha, and shares insights and photos from her time spent teaching and enjoying local holidays in Bhutan so far!

Photo Credit: Catherine O'Brien - BCF teachers Catherine and Sebastian, and friend.
Photo Credit: Catherine O’Brien – BCF teachers Catherine and Sebastian, and friend.
Photo Credit: Catherine O'Brien - Class 4A Students
Photo Credit: Catherine O’Brien – Class 4A Students

Although I’ve found my much-anticipated routine, small things continue to change. I wonder when, or if, I’ll ever feel totally settled. But then this is a process too, isn’t it? Patience, and finding peace in the process, will help me to continue to feel happy here. That, and the occasional glass of whisky with fellow teachers after school to take the edge off. – Catherine O’Brien: School

Blog of the Week – Rooftop Madness

Reese Ishmael is teaching English at Mongar Lower Secondary School. See how Reese is acclimatizing to the frequent celebrations in Bhutan and the meaning of community in Mongar Dzongkhag.

Photo Credit: Reese Ishmael - View from Home.
Photo Credit: Reese Ishmael – View from Home.

“The clock ticks slowly here and no one ever seems to be in a hurry. People make impromptu plans as opposed to arranging in advance. Conversations last hours and afternoons turn into all-day events. My friend Yeshi insists this is the better way to live; enjoying the moment. I am sure I will warm to the process in time, but in the thick of my culture shock I find adjustments like these particularly difficult—perhaps more so here than any other country I’ve lived in because of its cultural richness.” -BCF teacher Reese Ishmael in his blog post Rooftop Madness

Follow along with Reese at his blog Chillies and Dragons!

Blog of the Week – A Day in My Life

Megan Haskin is currently teaching English at Rangjung LSS in Trashigang. Find out what an average day looks like for Megan in Bhutan.

“I feel grateful for how quickly I have adjusted and really feel that I have my new friends to thank for it! The staff and my principal are just so kind and friendly – they made me feel right at home on the first day…Right now I love eating Kewa Datsi, drinking large amounts of naja (milk tea), being extra social, walking everywhere I need to go and of course, I love teaching these precious children!”

 – BCF teacher Megan Haskin from her post A Day in my Life. 

Photo Credit: Megan Haskin - Megan and her students.
Photo Credit: Megan Haskin – Megan and her students.

Follow along at Megan’s blog The Haskin Journal!

Blog of the Week – Home Sweet Home…

BCF teacher Sarah Barnett is settling in to teach English at Gongthung MSS in Trashigang. On her blog she writes about her adventure across the country to get to her placement and her first week upon arrival.

The next day we had more GNH training, which was really interesting to learn about. I have to say that I’m really fascinated by all of the beliefs and cultural systems that are going on here. I think that it’s really great to learn about it. I’m learning so much about everything here and I can’t wait for more. –  Home Sweet Home

Photo Credit: Sarah Barnett - Gongthung MSS
Photo Credit: Sarah Barnett – Gongthung MSS

Follow along at Flutjean2005 to learn more about Sarah’s year teaching in Bhutan.

First Bhutan International Festival

The first Bhutan International Festival will be held this year in Thimphu! The festival will run from February 14 – 23, with the aim of promoting local arts and creative industries including art, photography, film and music.

BhIF is a non profit annual event – working to build a resilient platform for the ongoing support of the creative arts in Bhutan.
Our mission is to provide a new outlet for artists from across the nation, and invite a cultural exchange with artists from around the world. – BhIF

Photo Credit: His Majesty King Jigme Khesar Namgyel Wangchuck
Photo Credit: His Majesty King Jigme Khesar Namgyel Wangchuck

For more information visit Kuensal Online First Bhutan International Festival Feb. 14-23.

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.

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.

Blog of the Week – Wangduephodrang District Tshechu

Vicky Chartres is currently teaching English & Geography at Samtengang MSS in Wangdue, and was able to attend the Wangduephodrang Tshechu.

“Tshechu” is the annual event of the year in every district and though it is billed as a religious festival it is much more than that, as evidenced by Vicky’s experience and her colourful pictures from her latest blog post!

Unfortunately in June 2012 the Wangduephodrang Dzongkhag Dzong was burnt to the ground in a fire. As plans are underway to re-build, the Tencholing Army ground is where the Tschechu was held this year.

Photo Credit: Vicky Chartres - Wangduephodrang Tshechu
Photo Credit: Vicky Chartres – Wangduephodrang Tshechu
Photo Credit: Vicky Chartres - Wangduephodrang Tschechu
Photo Credit: Vicky Chartres – Wangduephodrang Tshechu

Visit Vicky’s blog here –  In the Shadow of the Mountains.