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Wednesday, February 15, 2012

School Daze

I was going to upload some pictures, but after trying for 35 minutes to get one done, I gave up!
Today was the first day of school - actually it was clean up and move furniture day. After assembly this morning at 9:00, the PP-6th graders were asked to pick up paper and the 7th and 8th graders were put to work moving the new furniture the school received. After lunch, we had a staff meeting where our periods teaching were gone over before the distribution of hours (read as Master Schedule) was devised. I have my final classes have ended up being 5th and 7th grade English Language Arts. There are two sections of each, so out of 37 periods, I will teach 28. We have seven periods M,T,Th, and F, six periods on W, and three on Saturday. Each period is 50 minutes. Some days we might have 'double' class periods - like Harry Potter with double Potions!

Time here is very fluid, the teachers were telling me it they call it BST: Bhutan Stretch Time, because 9:00 ends up being 9:30 or 10. I understand school is different and they are very strict with the children to be on time!
Central Bhutan has been without electricity from 8-4:30 for days now, it is due to work on the hydroelectric project and should continue until the 16th. It has wrecked havoc on banking and government work but they just take it in stride. I'm glad I have gas to cook with. I should get in wonderful shape walking everyday, everywhere. The uphill part kills me! If I take the shortcut (straight uphill, through pastures) to school it takes me about 15-20 minutes, the long way
takes about 30 minutes. Either way will be a real challenge in bad weather.
The principal is trying to locate a place closer to school. This house is so big and it has bare wires in the rooms that have electricity with one bare bulb for light. I can not plug in my frig, one because of the electricity being off all day and also because I don't want to overload the socket. I choose heat instead with a heater one of the girls is letting me borrow.

I know this all sounds pretty negative but it is the same way everywhere in the homes for the most part. We are so spoiled in the States!

Monday, February 6, 2012

Kuzuzangpo, from Zhemgang!

Hello, everyone! I have been on the road to Zhemgang and getting settled into my house. I arrived on Sunday after a loooong drive to Trongsa. On the way we stopped to have a tour and tea at Dochola with the architect who designed the buildings and grounds. It is placed at a high pass and had some snow and ice on the ground, but the day we visited it was beautiful. Our vehicle took a side trip to Wangdue to see the lodgings and drop off one of our teacher's things. When we reached Yangskul Resort in Trongsa, we were exhausted (it was 8:30) and I just fell into bed. The next morning I woke up and had a proper look at our surroundings. I have pictures that hope will load because words do not do it justice. From there it was a three hour drive to Zhemgang.
It is amazing the change in terrain a few hours can make. We have seen alpine, forests, and subtropical all within a short trip. One thing everywhere we have been has in common are the mountains.
Once we made it to Zhemgang, I met one of my Vice Principals and a young lady that works in the school office. They were especially kind helping us to find my house and Samdrup had me to stay over at her family's home the first night so they could get the house cleaned up before I moved in. My house has one large main room, four smaller rooms, a kitchen, and a bathroom. I am only going to use two of the rooms; one as a sitting room and the other as a bedroom. The only real drawback is that there is only one water source and it is in the bathroom. The bathroom floor stays wet because there is no washbasin or bathtub, so to get water I have to change into my flip flops to go in and back into my regular shoes as I go out! I still need to work on my strategy for using a squat toilet : / (enough said!) I was busy boiling water this morning for my Irish Breakfast tea (but no raisin bread), dishes, and a bath on my gas stove. They have been working on the electricity, so no electricity yesterday and today until 5:00 pm.
I got use from my silver emergency blanket last night as it was very cold and I do not have a heater. The blanket worked but I will have to get a heater.
Thanks for all the comments, if you have any questions please post them and I will try to answer.  

Thursday, February 2, 2012

Kira - Bhutanese female dress

The day we had been waiting for - (not Groundhog Day!) our first day in our kiras. The kira consist of three pieces: the jacket, the shirt, and the skirt. Most of us purchased the half kira which is just a long skirt. As you can see from the pictures, there are many different designs of materials.
As our two weeks come to an end, we have been attending functions with some of the speakers we have heard as well as other dignitaries we have met. Today, we attended both a lunch and a dinner. Tomorrow, we will be doing the last of our shopping and trying to pack up. I am anxious to get to Zhemgang and get settled in before school starts.

Tuesday, January 31, 2012

I hope you liked the pictures from the Tiger's Nest hike. I was so tired all I could do was upload them. The hike was pretty demanding. My goal was to reach the cafeteria, which is halfway. I was able to reach it and met up with some others from our group. Three of us ended up taking horses the rest of the way up. I have never ridden a horse and it was so much fun! Everybody assumes that all Texans ride - I had to come halfway around the world to do it! Unfortunately, we arrived too late to go the rest of the way, but what an experience nonetheless.
Jan 31st - Today Vicki, Ian, and Scott from the 2011 BCF class joined us to talk about their experiences and answer our questions. Yea! They were very funny and informative. Then this evening we divided into two groups and half went to the BCF office for a cooking lesson and half stayed at Dragons Roots for a language lesson. I was in the cooking group. We had a nice evening out and the food was excellent.

Probably, the most important lesson I have learned (or am in the process of learning) so far is that no one can tell you exactly what to expect because everyone's experiences are different. Patience, Grasshopper! Keep your prayers and good wishes coming.


Saturday, January 28, 2012

Out and About

Pictures of the view from my window at the Dragon Roots Hotel.

Saturday evening - Today we were headed out on a hike to Buddha Point. Some of our crew is sick and were unable to come. I was winded after just a little bit and stayed with Sarah, one of the young ladies that is not feeling well. We lost sight of the others and headed off in the direction we thought they had taken. After quite a walk in what ended up being the wrong direction, we decided to head back down to the hotel. Sarah laid down and after 30 minutes I woke her so we could head out to lunch at Nancy Strickland's house. Sarah ended up not being able to go, so I headed off on my own. I had missed the tour of the city and hadn't a clue how far her house was, but I had a map. I got lost and ended up on the patio of a dad and daughter cutting tinder for their fire. I threw up my hands and said, "I am lost! Can you help me?" I showed him the map and pointed to the BCF office. "BCF, Bhutan Canada Foundation, are you a teacher?" I was floored! "Yes, from the U.S.", and we carried on this way for a bit as I told him about my posting. Then the gentleman led me off his patio and pointed to a field at the top of some steps, "Do you see the ladder by the water tanks? You will climb it and go over the wall then you are on the right street. Go down, but not too far because you will get to the highway and be really lost!" I thanked him and walked up to the field where four little boys were playing. "Hello, hello!", they all said. I couldn't see how to get to the ladder so the boys showed me the (very steep) trail and then continued to giggle as I made my way up and over the wall. Making sure I did not go too far, I finally found BCF and proceeded up the wrong way again!!! On another patio again asking help, I said, "Nancy Strickland's house?" "Yes, yes, right this way and the lady lead me to Nancy's backyard where I emerged from the trees and was greeted by Nancy herself. We had a wonderful lunch and enjoyed speaking with her other guest; a senator, a landscape architect, and teacher from the teacher's college.
Later, we went shopping for our supplies which is another story all by itself. Tonight, three of our teachers were taken to the hospital to get checked out.

Wednesday, January 25, 2012

Greetings from Thimphu

January 24th was the Day of Offering, a holiday similar to our Thanksgiving where families gather together. One activity the men might enjoy that day is a friendly archery competition. We actually were able to watch some gentlemen doing just that on a quick walk around the city of Paro. Archery is a national sport and Bhutan will send a team to the Olympics. We found out from Karma Tshering, BCF's Office Manager, our man about town and avid archer, the rules for Olympic competition are different from the Bhutanese rules - they are much easier!
25th - This morning we met with the Minister of Education, Thakur S Powdyel and the Secretary of Education, Aum Sangay Zam. The Secretary greeted each of us personally and told us a little about the school where we are posted. What an inspirational speaker the Minister is, he made us all feel so welcome and spoke so lovingly about his view of education! He spoke to us about the history of education in Bhutan, the aims for the future, and what our part would be in the coming year. It was so good to hear someone speak about teachers in a good way. My teacher friends - this is why I came to Bhutan: Teaching is a profession where one makes a difference every time something new has been taught and learned. The teaching/learning of a thing changes the life of that child and in turn the world forever. (my own paraphrase of the Minister's words)

On a personal note, Blog Followers, I must apologize for my spelling of Bahrain in the first post - that was my Texas accent coming out! Actually, I was just fooling around trying to set up my blog and didn't check the spelling, that's my reason but not a good excuse.
All the worry about the weight restrictions on our baggage turned out not to be that big of a deal at all if you paid the extra to get the business class ticket. Still it was probably good to have some kind of restriction as we would all have had too much from home! I am still trying to get acclimated. I ended up missing a tour of the town today as I was under the weather. I think the medicine I am taking for malaria is making me feel unwell, so I'm going to try taking it at night.
The scenery reminds me of Colorado, especially like a ski resort town that is nestled in the mountains. We are walking around with light jackets and the sun is shining. It is just beautiful! On the other hand in Paro (not as much in Thimphu) there was trash on the ground, mainly plastics, which are not burned.