Update from an Alumnus – Andrea Chisholm

We are very excited to bring you an update from 2013 BCF teacher Andrea Chisholm. Accompanied by her husband and two sons, Andrea spent a year in Bhutan teaching English at Chumey MSS in the district of  Bumthang. Having been home in Australia for over eight months now, Andrea is still very much connected to the country of Bhutan, the students, and the community of people she met along the way.

“We’ve been home from Bhutan since January, and although I feel fully immersed in a rich and happy life here in Australia, I still think of Bhutan everyday. I’ve become a Bhutanophile whose heart was captured by that magical place like no other at the top of the mountains.”

Along with teaching a full schedule in Bhutan, Andrea took on the role as primary school librarian. Following her passion for teaching reading to her students, Andrea has been working on a special project for the last few months that has recently come to fruition. To learn more about this project straight from the source visit Andrea’s blog post Books for Bhutan. Since writing her post, Andrea’s set of twelve books has been completed and she is looking forward to moving this project forward including fundraising to see these books printed and distributed throughout the country!

Photo Credit: Andrea Chisholm - Books for Bhutan Cover

Photo Credit: Andrea Chisholm - Books for Bhutan
Photo Credit: Andrea Chisholm – Books for Bhutan

 Reading seemed to me to be the most important skill my students needed to acquire. Most started school with no knowledge of English and yet this foreign language is the medium for their primary and high school education. Becoming a fluent user of English is imperative to success at school and the only pathway to further education and opportunities in Bhutan and beyond…

I bought a bundle of levelled readers in Thimphu and used these to listen to my students read one on one every morning before school. Most started with level 1 and struggled with even the most simple sentences as they had so little vocabulary in English. The books were made for Australian kids so they were about trips to the park, rock pools or museum, Australian style birthday parties, school fetes and making cheese tomato and lettuce sandwiches!

So, my mind began whirring with the idea of producing a set of very similar levelled readers that were Bhutan-ised. They would need simple modifications to content to draw on Bhutanese children’s prior knowledge and life experience. I thought clear and colourful photographic images of familiar scenes would engage students and help them identify vocabulary. And Jake and Anja would need to make way for Dorji and Deki!

Read about Andrea’s year spent teaching in Bhutan at her blog From Down Under to the Top of the World.

Update from an Alumnus – Dave Green

Introducing our new segment – Update from an Alumnus! Since 2009, The Bhutan Canada Foundation (BCF) has been working in collaboration with the Ministry of Education in Bhutan to recruit highly qualified native-English speaking teachers to work in public schools across the country, where they help to address a teacher shortage of nearly 1,000. BCF teachers have an incredible impact in the classroom where they encourage English language literacy and comprehension and bring problem solving, critical thinking, and innovation to the forefront of educational practice.

BCF - All Classes (2010 to 2013)

BCF Class 2010, 2011, 2012, and 2013!

Over the years, our BCF family has grown substantially from six teachers in 2010 to 20 now currently in the field. And that means our alumni network of teachers is expanding and BCFers are now teaching all around the world, sharing the experiences and knowledge they learned in Bhutan to new students and colleagues.

Our alumni have moved on to new and exciting adventures – from teaching positions in places as varied as China to northern Alberta, to travelling the world, becoming involved with international non-profit organisations, or going back to school to further their own education. We’re thrilled when we receive updates on what our teachers are now doing and we’re happy to be able to share some of their experiences post-Bhutan here!

GroupBCF Class of 2012.

BCF alumnus Dave Green, spent a year in Bhutan teaching physics to grade 9 and 10 students at Pakshikha Middle Secondary School in Chukha in 2012. He was an integral part of the community and while teaching a full schedule in Bhutan, Dave also busied himself with a successful music club! Upon leaving Bhutan, Dave spent five months travelling in Asia. Amongst other adventures, he partook in a week-long writers retreat to finish his novel (nearly done!) and reconnecting with his family. Currently Dave has landed a job teaching Physics at one of Scotland’s top private schools and he’s looking forward to inculcate some Bhutanese-style values with his students! Below, he was happy to share some reflections of his time spent in Bhutan.

Dave Green: School Picnic Time – The Holy Lake

Now that I’m finally moving on to something concrete and ‘jobby’, thoughts are more than ever turning towards my time in Bhutan to try to figure out what it all meant to me and how I feel about not being there anymore. I have to say that my memories are pretty much all good ones. There were frustrations, but that was inevitable, and they only served to bring me on as a person. Most of the time it feels a bit like a dream and I have to focus on it hard to bring it back and make it real.

Dave Green: The best place for a home to be

Without a doubt the best year of my life, with wonderful friendships, brilliant experiences and such warmth and generosity everywhere. I almost stayed, as you know, but it didn’t pan out. I hope that in the future my relationship with the country and the people I met there will renew and develop – I hope to return.

DaveGreenStudents

So, I’d like to thank you [BCF] for giving me the opportunity to be there. When I look back on it, the gift I was able to give my mother stands out. She had a fabulous time, took to the Bhutanese way of life like a duck to water and made me feel a bit silly for having any issues whatsoever with ‘culture shock’. I think she made more of an impact than I did – they all loved her! (Dave and his mum’s adventures can be found at October – a Bonkers Month… and Video Diary – Mum’s First Day in Bhutan)

Thanks for sharing Dave and we are excited to hear how your experience is at your new school. Good luck with everything and keep in touch!

To read more about Dave’s experience in Bhutan and beyond check out his blog   -> The Bhutanical Adventures of Dave Green.