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(This was written and I thought I posted it before my last post, but peasant internet strikes again! This post was written on May 29)

I have not written a blog for a long time. Before I make any excuses, here are some excuses why I haven’t written in a while:

I have read all seven Harry Potter books over the last month.

The things that at first seemed so foreign and new are no longer new and foreign to me. They are normal.

Writing about what is going on here will not put the Stanley Cup Playoffs on TV.

Bloggin Shmoggin.

 

For those who do not know him, when I was in Fort Chip, I had a mentor teacher by the name of Brian Dobko. Dobko has been to from Terra del Fuego? (The southern tip of South America) to Griese Fjord (on Ellesmere Island above 72˚ N). He has pretty much been everywhere. In conversation normal with him, he could often bring up things like this one time I was skiing from Jasper to Mount Robson in -25˚C and almost died and this one time I ran a marathon in Kyrgzakhaghanastan and almost died. It was from conversation with him that I learned the truth about travelling and adventures in nature. The worse things get, the better the story. In my short time hiking and hitchhiking, I know this to be true. There is a certain story in NZ that rings a bell. When everything goes according to plan there is no conflict and no story. That is why it has been hard to blog. I’m rambling.

 

 

Before I start to ramble, I was thinking this morning that one of the things that one of the most difficult things about being in Tsebar is that there is no one who I can constantly share day to day occurrences with as they happen. Things like, “What the dust just happened? Is that clown really running around with a huge wooden phallus? Are you really expecting me to sit in a multiple staff meetings that are over 4 hours and mostly in a language that I do not speak? You want me to play volleyball in a serious manner when it is raining cats and dogs?” With a couple reminders from people over the internet I was reminded that I have the internet and I can share with all ya’ll whenever I feel like. So instead of pretending that I am doing this all on my own, I am going to begin sharing with you all again. When I tell my students that sharing is caring, they tell me, “No sir, sharing is loving.” I think that sharing is caring is way better because like ‘don’t hate, collaborate’ it rhymes. That is why it is better.

 

So here are some things.

 

Students told me I need a haircut because I look like a girl and my hair is not even long.

 

I gave a student named Sonam Loday a nickname: Han Solo.

 

I hang my toilet paper on a miniature Canadian flag.

 

No one here thinks the Tsebar Toothed Tigers is a funny/good sports name.

 

Everyday PP (kindergarten) and Grade 1 students yell at me all of the English they know. Good Monring Sir! I am Fine! How Are You! I am Fine! Good Evening Sir!

 

We held a school fundraiser, and I thought it would be a good idea to let local people donate money for a water balloon to through at me. It worked for a while but respect for authority and I think fear that I would beat students if they hit me prevented great success. Most people thought it was demeaning for me…

 

The students were hysterical when I said students call my dad Mr. Walnut.

 

I had a student write ‘Thank You Subject Teacher’ on a test I assigned to them. So many things wrong with that.

 

A math teacher is returning from Maternity Leave and does not have many classes to teach. Each one of my classes has expressed that they want me to continue teaching their classes and I have asked the principal to keep all of my classes. Other teachers think I am crazy and have told me “all work and no play makes Mac a dull boy.”

 

This is probably true about teaching anywhere, but how well my students do on an assessment drastically changes my mood.

 

As I was walking to class to give a unit test, a teacher asked me to give up the period so that a Dzongkha test could be given to three sections at once.

Question for my readers: Was two minutes a reasonable amount of warning for me to change my entire days lessons?

 

I really am in need of vegetables and fruit. ARR you Scurvy dogs.

 

When it rains dogs fight to see who gets to sleep on my porch. It gets loud.

 

The general kindness of my students is very high.

 

Today we were completely distracted by the absolutely stunning view from out my classroom window. It had been raining for about 12 hours and the sun had just broken through. Sometimes I feel like I could be doing much more at other places, but when the sun shines through the cloud, it makes the happy lotus valley greener, shinier, beautifuller, and the view clear as crystal. I remember why I wanted to come here, why I am here and the positive attitude that I usually have. I am lucky because I get to experience what life without running water is like, because I have internet and because I am learning a different kind of discipline.

 

I promise videos in July!

 

Day in the life- students

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A day in the life of a Bhutanese Student.

The day of a student in Bhutan starts very early. For Boarding students, the wake up bell goes off at 5:00 AM. As for students living with their parents, or day scholars as they are known here, wake up depends on the length of walk. Boarders then are expected to wash and have prayer before morning study at 6:00 AM. Some of my students, who live near the top of a local mountain, must leave for school around this time. Most day scholars arrive at the school for breakfast, which is at 7:00 AM. After breakfast students have about 20-40 minutes to accomplish some SUPW (Socially Useful Productive Work). SUPW consists of things like cleaning washrooms, sweeping sidewalks, watering flowers and dillydallying. I have heard it referred to as Some Useful Period Wasted. Then begins the 30-minute assembly. The assembly has it’s ups (meditation, prayer and singing) and downs (student speeches copied out of some book, lectures on behaviour and values from teachers). In short, students wake up at 5:00 AM to start class at 9:00 AM, that is if the morning speeches do not carry over into first period as they often do.

Our school has six 55 minute periods. Students have English, Dzongkha, Science, Math every day, history and geography three times a week and PE, Library, and IT once a week. PE also is taught in the classroom, regardless of weather, and the IT lab only has 10 computers. Lunch is always rice with a curry (usually pumpkin, but sometimes turnip) and dal. I actually really like the lunches. People who know me, know that it is hard for me to turn down a free meal… On Mondays, there is a remedial class in a subject on a rotating basis. Wednesdays are club day. The other school days are concluded with an evening prayer.

After school, boarding students have an hour of free time which is often full of relaxing and playing. Day students return home at this point, with the longest commute about 1.5-2 hours straight up hill. The 5:30 bell means an hour of evening study in the multipurpose hall. I am often frustrated with the ridiculous amount of copying that takes place during study sessions. It has led to a sever reduction in homework from my side. After study is dinner. This is followed by another hour of study in the dorms, which I am guess is not that productive. I look back at my 16 years of school, at not once did I ever come close to a need for 3 hours of study per day, nor did I have the focus and drive that 3 hours of study would require. I am of the opinion that this is the case here as well. With 6 hours of class, early mornings and the heaps of other work given to students, I cannot blame them for lacking effort during study periods.

Lights out is at 9:00 PM, giving students a bit more free time before bed. Young students are often asleep before this, because, like people, children eventually get tired. Mahh.

Remembering what I know about residential schools in Canada, this in many ways fits the bill. My school is not quite as strict as places like Nangkhor HSS, but many of the rules, format of lessons, position of teachers all comes from the British Protestant boarding school system brought across the world to do ‘a service’ to uneducated nations. While reading Harry Potter, I noticed that the teachers in Hogwarts are as committed to that system as we are here (that is why Harry and Ron always copied off of Hermione). In the case of Bhutan, it was Father Mackey, a Canadian (Does that make me his son), who actually began the first secular schools. The biggest difference between schools here and Canadian Residential schools here is that although English is the language of instruction, there is no attempt to destroy local languages, culture or ways of life and people here also traditionally shave their heads anyways. The current policy under discussion in the Bhutan Government is to create fewer and bigger centralized schools. The discussion eventually comes to who should take care of the students: civil servants or parents. I look forward to having my students sending letters so that can both Canadian and Bhutanese students can gain from a cultural exchange.

Before I get into trouble, how bout them Stanley Cup Playoffs, eh?

A Day In The Life. Part 2

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I wake up early in the morning, around the crack of dawn. I wave to my neighbours like Kuzampo. Say Kuzampo. I’m all ready to go, books banging in my bag. Everybody in my village show me love.

But really, people here wake up with the sun. Due to either sunlight coming through the cracks of my wooden windows, my natural time clock, monks chanting an hour earlier, labourers building my neighbours house or all of the above, I wake up at 6:00 AM no matter what I do. The next order of business is using the washroom, which is a classic Indian squat toilet with a large hole in roof to allow convection currents of air. Unfortunately, the hole allows rain to wash away at the wall and make the floor a muddy lake. The next order of business is internet. My internet is about twice as fast between 5 and 7 am because no one else uses it around then. Since I ran out of Oatmeal the next chore is to make some food, which is always weird because rice for breakfast is still weird for me. My next chore is doing dishes with the water I haul from ten minutes away. I have become excellent at conserving water. This is because I am quite lazy and the water facilities in my village are constantly dry. It is actually a serious problem. I have a set of buckets which I use as a kitchen sink, waste bucket, shower, toilet flusher, etc. Showers involve a mixture of boiled and unboiled water, and my dirty partially roofed bathroom. I round out my morning with the task of dressing myself. Putting on my Gho takes between 5-20 minutes depending on my wakefulness, dexterity, care for appearance and attitude that morning. I am quite proud that I can put on the Gho passably to come to school. People no longer laugh when I walk by. Although it is not put on well enough that teachers will ask to redo it if important guests come to the school.

My daily commute is a 7 minute walk through part of the village, a farm, and through peoples property. A tremendous view of the Pema Gatshel (It means Lotus Village) valley can be seen when I walk past the two cows that scare the dust out of me when they moooo at nighttime. Villager’s constant stares have turned into Kuzampos and smiles. This makes me happy as I arrive at the school.

We start the day with a morning assembly at the outdoors assembly ground. A few of the other teachers have blogged about the centering and beauty of this ritual. I will play devil’s advocate. I really enjoy the meditation, 5-minute prayer and national anthem. The following speeches by students and the teacher on duty often take about 30 minutes, cutting into class time. I feel for the students who seem to get berated with unwarranted advice everyday, but maybe it is good for them. I then have three classes before lunch with a spare and one or two classes after lunch. This part of the day goes by very fast. The students are hilarious and hard working. There are some challenges, but that is a discussion for another day.

After school ends I have one hour to do some more prep and go home and change. I coach volleyball 4 out of 6 days in a week (2 days boys and 2 days boys). It starts right after evening prayer ends at 4:30. I really enjoy it though. I feel really good about giving the girls, as fellow BCF teacher put it, a fair go. I will also do my best to inject some Canadian-style sport into the community. Often I find that the laughing, supportive team atmosphere that every team I have been on is missing during sports here. A match for fun ALWAYS has the score kept. I crave more silliness and more pushups for missed serves. After volleyball, I do my best to attend the evening study sessions. I do this to intervene in the copying/plagiarism epidemic. This is accomplished by actually helping students who are far to often too shy and reluctant to ask for help. Often, teachers have to attend required dinners/celebrations for baby showers, birthdays, promotions, departures, etc., which interfere with normal schedules. I am not one to deny free food, but I am starting to find that I cannot fulfill both the professional and social obligations of being a teacher in Bhutan.

By the evenings I find some energy to make some sort of meal. (My personal favourite is called throw-everything-in-a-pot-stew. I take every thing I have and throw it in a pot and hope for the best). That is, I make a meal if someone has not invited me for dinner, which happens quite often. I am also pleased to announce that I figured out how to make Japatis or tortilla like things. The are the closer to bread than the bread you can find in the stores here in Bhutan. I finish the day quite exhausted, reading or watching movies and curling up into my sleeping bag.

I wrote this, not because it is overly interesting, because I was told that years down the road I will want to know what my day-to-day life was like.

This blog is fine. Expecting anymore from a blog like this would be expecting a lot. Being disappointed is your own fault. Some blogs have much more ornate photos, which when compared to the text of my blog, come off as trying too hard. As for video blogs, SCALE it Back buddy.
(watch Terrible Planet: Deer Are Fine on Youtube if you do not get that last paragraph).

A Day in the Life

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A Day in the life of a Bhutanese Teacher.
I wake up early in the mornin’
round the crack of dawn
wave to my neighbors like wassup (say wassup)
and I’m all tatted up, dat bang in my trunk
everybody in ma city show me love
because I got my speakers going hammer, bammer bammer bammer
speakers going hammer, speakers going hammer?
speakers going hammer, bammer bammer bammer
speakers going hammer, speakers going hammer?

My speakers out of space like ET..
cops watch me all day like TV..
SOD hit da club we be so deep..
mine on D and I grind like a OG
I got 12 diamond chains like a Ozzy
follow me like de wizard of OH ZEE
girls love my style cuz it is so mean
ask about me in da streets I spit so heat
Aint nobody in da game messing with my clique
Style swift hot like itz july 10th
Fly chick in my whip with nice tits
her boyfriend paid for it, I didn’t
Ice game, cold as a polar burr
Sun hit my chain, watch it make a solar flure
We gettin money over here hands in the urr
Ya’ll making it too easy!, it’s not furr

I wake up early in the mornin’
Round the crack of dawn
wave to my neighbors like wassup (say wassupp)
and I’m tatted up, dat bang in my trunk
everybody in ma city show me love
because I got ma speakers going hammer, bammer bammer bammer
speakers going hammer, speakers going hammer?
speakers going hammer, bammer bammer bammer
speakers going hammer, speakers going hammer?
I remember back in the days mayne I was broke
these days MC Dorji run a hundred spokez
no joke, mayne I’m balling out the atmoshphurr
say you ball harder then me, man get em outta hurr
I gotta my speakers going hamm in my Lamborghini
two door coupe, girl in bikini
passenger seat and she five star she so swagg
she so fabolous they way she throw it in the bag
its young Dorji Dorji mayne I swear I’m popping tags
back then, u could catch me in a poniac
theese days droptop phantom with a 100 stackz
yea they buy this album but they want they money back
girls wet like they living in a fish tank
I’m getting money man what the dust a twitch think
young soulja got my speakers going MC Hammer
like Rick Ross switch, I think I’m MC Hammer

What happened there? Amazing. Solar flare rhymes with a polar bear? Brilliance. How do speakers go? Bammer. Does Bammer also rhyme with MC Hammer? Yes, so does MC Hammer. A line about people returning your album? Accurate.

Although this is hilarious, I did not write it. The only thing representative about my stay in Bhutan and this song is that I wake up early in the morning around the crack of dawn. Ok, I changed a couple things. I hope to have a real post up for your entertainment, in the next couple days.
If you look up the song, you will be in for the worst quality of music ever made.

School Rimdro

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Sunday was a day I will never forget.

It was the Tsebar School Rimdro. A Rimdro is a day of prayer for the next year. Our Rimdro consisted of two parts: a Puja and the Main Rimdro.

I was told to arrive at 7:30 AMBhutan Standard Time, which I knew meant 8-9. I was displeased that this event was on a Sunday. Sundays are the only day of the week that we get as a day off. It just means 13 straight days of work, which really isn’t too bad. After we finally began I started to realize what this day was about. The MPH (multi-purpose hall [Bhutanese love acronyms]) stage was where the local monks from the Duwang Monastery set up their altar and commenced their prayers. Their prayers consist of chanting, singing, drumming, bells, two jaling (clarinet type thing) and two dung (Long horns). The dung (pronounced doong) and jaling are only made in Tsebar and are shipped across the country.  The sick room is where some teachers and local villagers performed the Puja. The prayers here consisted of chanting, hand drums, bells and horns. The Puja horns kind of look like phalluses and are literally human tibias. Another main function of the Rimdro was food. We had breakfast, tea, second breakfast, lunch, snacks and dinner. To pay for the food and items for the event, Teachers each donated 500 Nu, staff 350 Nu, students 30-50 Nu and the rest was of the costs were covered by the World Development Fund. We raised about 22000 Nu ($400 Canadian or more than a teacher’s monthly salary).

During the morning I split my time between the Puja and main ceremony. I did my best to meditate, although the horns, students and prayers are quite distracting. I am very grateful that the teachers and students did there best to make me a part of the ceremony. This includes wearing a Kabney. Kabneys are like long scarves that you wear for special occasions on your gho. Somehow I have figured out a way to put on my gho, but the kabney is a whole crazy thing. You need to lower it at certain times (I never know when) and when I put it back to normal it becomes a mess. Maybe, just maybe, I will be able to dress myself someday. The biggest highlight of the morning for me was the food sacrifice was used to draw out the spirits. It  included every kind of cheap Indian factory food you could find including: mounds of cookies, oodles of noodles, a hammock of cake, individually wrapped gum, chocolate bars, a snap, crackle and pop of puffed rice and tube shaped puffed wheat. It took us about twenty minutes to unwrap all of the food.

The afternoon session took things to a new level. We went to the local monastery to pick up what was explained to me as their bible. I believed that everyone was going just to show their support, but it turned out that Buddha wrote 108 scriptures as well as about 8 Dalwa (I think)or main texts. Not surprisingly the Monks keep the scriptures at the top of the monastery up a rickety ladder. Each of the normal scriptures are two planks of wood with paper in between them and each weighs about 10-15 lbs. Students used their scarves to tie them to their backs. I was asked if I would like to take one of Dalwa which are about 30-35 pounds (this gets heavy for the way particular way you have to carry them for 45 minutes). The trip back was something special. We created a convoy led by horns, a conch and a gong. Along the way villagers and students not carrying scriptures lined the paths. One of the other teachers instructed me to hit them on the head with our 35 lb. block of wood. I was sure it was a joke, but people literally bowed their heads and wanted me to bop them on the head. As we took the scriptures to every part of the school, I bopped 60 innocent people on the head.

More prayer and a peculiar event followed this event. The students and teachers had made 108 statues out of dough and butter wheels the day before. Each one of those were to be taken from the altar and passed through the hands of each student and teacher. About ten students continually walked them through lines of students so that everyone could touch them. Some of the statues were of body parts (ears, feet, hands, nose, etc.) so you had to touch them to that body part. I definitely would not say that this ritual was the most hygienic of rituals. On an unrelated note, a large number of my students were sick to start of this week.

After dinner it was getting late and I was thinking that I might leave soon. Luckily, the principal said the most important part was coming up. The evening event had to do with two masked dancers. They were dressed up as evil spirits. The people playing this role had to be former monks. Normal citizens and current monks are not allowed to carry out this type of dance. It began as students began whistling and yelling to scare the spirits outside. The dancers were armed with bamboo torches and a bag of flour. They would take the flour and throw it into the torch to shoot flames at things. All of the male students and teachers began a procession out of the hall. We proceeded to chase the spirits in and out of every building on campus. The dancers would lead followed by students yelling, blowing horns and crashing cymbals. After we would enter and leave a room, the monks would follow and bless the room. The dancers really shot fire at everything and everyone. I thought my eyebrows were on fire at one point. The only fire protection we had was a support staff member with a branch and a bucket throwing water onto things that had fire thrown on it. The icing on the cake was two bags of rocks given to a few students. Their job was literally to throw rocks and all of the buildings we went bye. This was the most ridiculous, dangerous and fun thing I have done in Bhutan. The fact that this was all done on public property is another can of worms that we should not get into. One of the students even stopped me and said, “This is our culture. Bhutanese culture is very, very good.”

 

This is the first time that I can think of that I have ever been part of such a deeply ingrained old tradition. From other teachers I have talked to, their Rimdros were nowhere near as extreme as this one. Things like this are very rare. This blog does not give it justice at all.

 

SPORTS! ARTS! VOLLEYBALL!

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This past weekend other teachers from my school and I went to a nearby community called Yurung to play volleyball and football. We played against the staff of the Yurung Middle Secondary School (k-10) and stayed over night. Because we had some other staff members bail right before departure, we brought along five students to play with us as well. Someone thought it was a good idea to get me to play goalie. We lost 8-2. I have never played football in a competitive way before. Sunday morning (Sundays are the only day we do not teach) we played volleyball and we slaughtered them, but not quite as bad. Each game carries a minimum one beer bet per person. It is as close to Beer league as Bhutan comes. Our school does not have a football pitch, but we have a football team. Even stranger is the fact that between our school and Yurung MSS we have only one volleyball. As a math teacher I have decided that we have one three-year old volleyball for 700 students. As a former AFL youth mentor, I find this atrocious. I never used to think of a volleyball as a luxury item. They are actually really hard to get. We are severely lacking in all sports equipment and the equipment we have is of Indian factory quality (just like everything else).

On Tuesday I was also surprised to find out that I am head coaching the boys and girls volleyball teams. Two hours per team per week. I am starting to think that other teachers are not aware of the prep/assessment time that teaching requires. I can’t say that I am upset about this though. Sports are one of the healthiest ways to get to know people and students are people. For those who are wondering, my catch phrase before serving or spiking is “Who’s Hungry!?”

I also have been doing some teaching over here. My students no longer stare and me with disbelief. I think about how people in Canada would stare at me if I wore my Gho down Whyte Avenue. It is the exact kind of stares I get when people see me wearing a Gho here in Bhutan. The children that I do not teach are still terrified of me. Little kids are especially afraid. This is a new experience for me. I am used to strangers kids kicking me in the shins in Market Mall or kids asking me if I am Santa while pulling on my 50-pound backpack in Rotorua. They are usually the ones that scare me. This upcoming weekend we are having a Rimdro or a big school prayer for the upcoming year. Usually when people talk about it they speak in Sharschop or Dzongka so I do not know what is going on. Today, I showed up for my afternoon class and the students were like, “don’t you know? No class, we are cleaning and building things.” I was assigned the PrePrimary and Grade 1 students to pick up litter. It was ridiculous. They can’t understand any English. When I yelled for them to move slowly, not knowing the meaning, started yelling slowly and jumping off cliffs and running around. It worked well for them not being afraid of me though.

Due to renovations the normal classrooms here are in short supply. My classrooms consist of one permanent room and part of the old student residence cum prayer hall that has old tin roofing acting as a class divider. (Bhutanese use the word cum [instead of and/becoming a] all the time on signs with hilarious results. E.g. Dorji’s Salon cum Bar). Other school classrooms include: parts of the library, the sick room, the stage of the hall, a shack they built yesterday, the science lab, and a nearby former milking room. By July the Indian workers should be finished and we will have brand new classrooms. The classrooms that we do have are quite cramped even though we have relatively average class sizes (24-31). They are quite simple. I explained the concept of smart boards to the other teachers and they were quite surprised. They were baffled when I told them if you have an IPad you could write on the board with out being anywhere near it. What I want to do is have students make all sorts of posters to beautify their classrooms. I did have students make some posters, but we do not have any markers, paint or art-like supplies at all. You would think that a teacher from Canada would bring those things.

I remember when I was in school. The things people enjoyed the most were extra-curricular activities, sports, art, and drama. Students here get one PE class a week and only PP and class 1 get art class. We also have clubs that meet once a week for an hour.

It is here my friends where I could use some help. If you could somehow get your hands on some SPORTS! and ART! supplies and somehow get them to RR2 Sundre AB T0M 1X0 I would really appreciate it. If along with the supplies you could attach several loonies to help cover the costs of transportation across an ocean and half a continent, my parents would appreciate it. If you want you sould even send mail directly to me at Tsebar Lower Secondary School, Khar, Pemagatshel Bhutan. (no streets to have addresses on here) Thank you for at least thinking about these students. If you can give I will be your best friend and more importantly you would be giving to children who could really use it.

PS: Mom and Dad. I just invited people to send SPORTS! And ARTS! Supplies to your house. Please do not get mad. Also, could you send them over to Bhutan? Also Thanks. You are the best.

Mac Dorji.

It’s only just begun

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These past three weeks have been a roller coaster. Adjusting to life here has been somewhat challenging. Coming out of my extremely privileged Western lifestyle into a privileged Eastern lifestyle is strange. I have come into to obvious realizations. I have discovered why things are called modern conveniences (because without them things are time and effort consuming but completely unnecessary). I have learned how important and how scarce accessible running water is. I have stumbled on to the fact that access to basic Internet makes the world itty-bitty and it really makes it seem like I could be anywhere in the world (www as the world wide web actually makes sense). I have learned the benefit of reflection in dealing with challenges (Check yo’ self before you wreck yo’ self). I have learned why I am so tall and I thank my mom for feeding me so much delicious, diverse and nutritious food (except for the years of bread and butter). I have learned how to play sports in front of a crowd. I have learned to have a shower with a bucket. I have learned what respect for authority looks like culturally. I have learned to sit through staff meetings that literally take all day. (I am not sure if they are worse than Canadian staff meetings, because I cannot understand teachers during the meetings. In Canada, I know that the other teachers are complaining). I have learned a better squatting technique. I have learned a lot.
Although the first week was harder than the following ones, it would have been much more difficult if not for newfound friends. I am so grateful for the teachers, students and other members of the community taking care of me. One of the benefits of being a bachelor, is that everyone assumes that I am incapable of cooking myself three meals a day and thus invites you for lunch and dinner with regularity. Some teachers have told me that they haven’t invited me because they were afraid that I wouldn’t like their food or that they did not have anything fancy to prepare. They are now aware that can be a human garbage can. Also, regardless of the day of the week, hosts will often serve you alcohol with your meal. This includes ara (a moonshine of sorts, usually served hot with egg and butter mixed into it) at 9:30 in the morning on a Sunday. It feels good to begin to know some people in the community fairly well. Not only have these invitations kept me well-fed and alive, they have also made me much more familiar with social cues, some basic Scharshop and what a Bhutanese home is like. Tsebar is probably the most giving place I have ever been. Literally everyone would give their shirt of their backs to make you more comfortable. I would specifically like to thank Sonam Chophel, Yeshi Pema, Choda Phuntsho and Sonam Tobgay for immediately showing me the ropes and inviting me into their homes and Mike and Ashley Lenzen for being those annoying and proud Roughrider fans down the road.
I did come here to learn, but I was brought here to teach.. The majority of the second week I was planning for the year. I am teaching three sections of Math 7, one of Math 8 and one of Geography 7. I am teaching my bread and butter. One thing that is my top priority is to make my lessons interesting for my students. The resources are reminiscent of Canada 60 years ago. I have a chalkboard and textbooks. Published in 1990 the Geography text and reprinted in 2005 has managed to replace the Soviet Union section with the Former Soviet Union (Maybe they are just Stalin the change because of Putin in Ukraine. I will have to be careful on how I hand out my Marx) Sorry. I also have responsibilities as a Class Teacher of 7A (administration), a morning speech evaluator, a House Master, Literary Coordinator and Literary Club Coordinator. I also plan on helping the school with sports every chance I get The math curriculum is based of the curriculum that I learned from as a student. The geography curriculum is 55% Bhutan Geography, which means learning by inquiry is going to be necessary, because I cannot say I know very much about the Bhutan. . Long story short I am going to be incapable of cooking three meals a day for myself. Just kidding.
I have taught for a total of 3.5 days. So far I think it has gone as well as it could have. I have had smooth, and effective lessons, but there are some challenges. Unlike the other teachers, I cannot give direction or translate words into Scharshop for the students. The English proficiency of my students ranges from some who understand absolutely none to some who can understand English but are too afraid to speak it to those who are confident and continually practicing English outside of class. A focus on vocabulary has to be in every lesson. I am teaching English with Math and Geography on the side. The students have been so unbelievably well behaved, I still do not believe it. Other than continual cheat/peaking (due to lack of English literacy), I have had no problems in class. I still find it so weird to walk into a class and see my students all stand up and in unison say, “Good Morning Sir!” It is even weirder when it happens everywhere I walk in the community. Student engagement is not hard to create. I have the students repeat a ‘word of the day’ in unison. DIVISIBLE! DIVISIBLE! It is fun. This is my first-ever teaching job and so far (so short) I love it.
After school has been just as busy. Three times last week we played volleyball after school. This isn’t your normal recreation volleyball. Although it is ‘just for fun’ the Gym teacher has been coaching/playing with the senior team (14-16 year olds) against the staff. Students who are not playing, hall out all of the benches from the hall and watch us. About 250 students. I have never played volleyball with crowd noise. I am actually playing better than I expected to. It is fun playing volleyball with people who are very good at passing and it is especially fun being the person who gets to play power. I feel bad when I have a good spike because all too often the ball goes over a cliff. #mountainproblems Everyone loves to play sports, but there is a severe lack of equipment (for example we only have one very old and worn volleyball) and places to play. There used to be a football pitch, but they built a hall, so now there is nowhere flat enough to play. #mountainproblems I am also concerned that girls are not getting a fair chance to play. I will do my best to promote them playing, but literally every girl is terrified of me.
It is with great joy that I am starting to feel much more comfortable here in Tsebar. If anyone has any questions, I would be happy to answer them.

PS. Mom and Dad. Please tell Gordon that I miss him and that he is so spoiled.