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Tuesday, December 14, 2010

Not just a Gate – Update from Punakha HSS, Punakha, Bhutan

Before, 12 Sci C, 2010
What stood tall for thirty years or more is now being hammered down. A new traditional gate will soon welcome all who come to the school. As a student I walked under the old gate ten years ago and today I am witnessing it getting demolished. I feel a profound loss or else I would not be writing this.

This gate stood mighty and firm for so many years. It was often the favourite spot for the students to take photographs before it - souvenirs after graduation. The gate proudly posed behind many to grace the people in the photographs. And people knew it was Punakha HSS because of the Gate, it was Phunakha’s face for so many years.
A Buddhist Gate. Courtesy Google image

The Gate didn’t have our traditional architectural feature but it had deeper expressions of what is rooted in us as Buddhist, The Wheel of Dharma. The Dharmacakra on three flying banners adorned the Gate and it took the school to many a great heights blessing everyone who passed under it. Doing some reading on the Wheel I found out that the Wheel is also known as The Dharmacakra which is represented as a chariot wheel (Sanskrit cakram) with eight or more spokes. It is one of the oldest known Buddhist symbols found in Indian art, appearing during the time of the Buddhist king Aśoka. The Dharmacakra has been used by all Buddhist nations as a symbol ever since. In its simplest form, the Dharmacakra is recognized globally as a symbol for Buddhism. All Buddhists agree that the original turning of the wheel occurred when the Buddha taught the five ascetics who became his first disciples at the Deer Park in Sarnath. In memory of this, the Dharmacakra is sometimes represented with a deer on each side. 
Although the Gate in my school did not have a deer on each side it nonetheless represented the most sacred aspect of Buddhism. It had aged and had grown as familiar as a land mark, that it is difficult not to see it there today. It was the last of its kind; the others that I am aware of were the ones before Yangchenphu Higher Secondary School in Thimphu and Jigmesherubling Higher Secondary School in Khaling, Tashigang.


Sunday, December 12, 2010

Lucky to teach in Bhutan

Western or foreign students in movies and books are interesting. Movies like Dangerous Minds, Coach Carter, and books like To Sir with Love or The Water is Wide portray students who are challenging. These stories are about ordinary teachers who love their job. Imagining these movies and books I cannot help but feel lucky to be teach my students. 

I feel lucky to have students who are genuine in their effort to learn.  I am thankful to have students who put up with me during hot sweaty Punakha afternoons.  I am proud to have students who work hard to do their best. I am thankful to have students who are genuine in the respect and I am grateful for the friendship we share. Though I share jokes with them, they know that there is a line between us which we should respect.

 My classroom is safe because there are no guns or knives. Students are not high or intoxicated. And they listen to me when I reason with them. They challenge me and the book when it is required but do it in a matured manner. I respect their imagination and they mine.

Teaching is a joy because of my students and moments with them inspires me to continue doing what I do. As a student I never thought my sleepy eyes or my stern serious face, not always but sometimes, could sway my teachers’ mood. Now as a teacher, I see how important was my role in helping my teachers love their job. The eager faces of my students energise me even in the last period of a hard hot day.  Their faces are eager to learn, to discover, to laugh, and to appreciate the stories, poems and the essays we unfold together.

11 Sci D, 2009

My students encourage me everyday. It has been four years and may be I will continue to teach for many years because of my students.    

Friday, December 3, 2010

English and Me

I love English, I always loved English even as a child and through English I define myself as a teacher. It has only been four years as an English language teacher but I want to see myself growing old with this subject. With every lesson I teach in the class there are new words to learn, new phrases to understand and new excitements to enjoy every time I read lines that come with powerful spontaneous over flow of the writers’ emotions. I envy theses writers for having so many words and so much skill at their disposal to express themselves and their surrounding with so much clarity and coherence. Every word mingles with other words to create pictures in the readers’ mind, images that are rich and provoke one’s imagination to wander and reach for new horizons. I love English and by expressing my love for this subject I want my students to also love this rich subject of literature and language.
Today in our country the quality of education is questioned and with this the standard of English comes in the lime light because all the other subjects are taught through English.I look at my students and though I feel desperate as to how I can improve their English I am also grateful for their effort and interest.  
There is hope and as long as I express my love for this subject I know that my students will follow.