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.