Saturday, July 27, 2013


I’ve been looking forward to writing this post for a while – a big virtual thank you hug and acknowledgement to all the people near and far whose generosity is helping us have an impact in our school and at the same time feel supported, loved and in our friends’ and family’s thoughts at home. I couldn’t be doing what I’m doing here without your help, and knowing so many people care has got me through some dark days.
I have received an enviable collection of stationery, books and learning materials, literally sent from all over the world – Australia, UK, USA, Canada, Mongolia – that mean I can teach in a way that is eye-opening and I know is inspiring other teachers at my school.

For a while the postman and Bob were kept busy with lots of parcels arriving!

With generous cash donations (thanks Tracey and Marg!) we doubled the school’s annual book buying budget, and stocked the library with good quality learn-to-read books for the lower grades and motivating teen novels for the older students that they can’t get enough of!

The class 6 students are enjoying reading Goosebumps and Geronimo Stilton.

A fun way to celebrate the end of term with Class 2 making masks!

In Australia we take for granted that early years education is full of fun, colour, creativity and hands-on – to enthuse our youngest learners, to respond to their innate sense of fun and play and to inspire them to become lifelong learners. We love to see the smiles on happy faces of children who buzz from the joy of learning, who are given time to grasp important early concepts in language and numeracy by approaching the topic from multiple angles that correspond to the multiple intelligences, free from the confines of a testing regime that eats up learning time. This is old school in Australia but ideas that are only slowly taking hold here, and in fact some believe here that the ideas are not suitable for local students for a variety of dubious reasons. In many cases these activities and ways of teaching require nothing more than a motivated teacher, but of course with all the coloured pens, pencils, paper, paddlepop sticks and other things I’ve received from home, I am able to take it to the next level.
Can you see some of the craft materials you sent?

Stamping sightwords (or maybe just stamping for fun!)

My UNESCO club girls loved learning how to Zentangle.

I love how they expanded on those skills when they helped make thank you cards.

Friday afternoon art is what the kids look forward to all week.

How gorgeous is Tashi's smile, not to mention her painting!

I am a woman on a mission to show that these new ways of teaching are not merely gimmicks, or a lot of useless play, but with very pleasing results at the end of term 1, I am keen to demonstrate my kids are not only loving school, but making fantastic progress. On all the assessments I have taken their reading has gone from next to nothing to all students moving forward, perhaps only a year behind levels we’d hope for in Australia with native English speakers, and these kids are learning English as a third language! Non-writers are now writing and their confidence to attempt new sentence structures and spelling to express themselves is pleasing.
Colourful sentence strips.

Class two also helped make cards to say thank you to those who made donations.

Busy making sight word paper chains which decorated our class for a while!

 I love how they organised themselves with this task and worked in small groups.

I used this as an opportunity to introduce a written procedure - not part of the curriculum, but an added extra!

 From drab to fab! Kids brought the balloons from home to add extra colour and fun!

Mathematically we have spent time consolidating a lot of basics in number and other areas of maths. This term we have started working with larger numbers to 1000 and the groundwork seems to have paid off – they are grasping new concepts quickly.

A few packs of cards have been really handy in maths - here exploring 3 digit numbers.

Colourful streamers made measuring and comparing the length of body parts fun!

In recent weeks I received nearly $1000 from three friends in particular and I want to acknowledge the contribution they have made. Chris made three beautiful quilts and raffled these off among her friends coming up with a grand total of $570. The fact that I have never met Chris in person makes this all the more amazing!
Another old friend, Allison,  who I completed my final teaching internship on Thursday Island with about 13 years ago is now a teacher in Canada and organised her school community to raise more than $200 by baking ‘Bhanana’ Muffins and collecting Pennies for Bhutan. And a friend at home, Michelle, that I met through Xavier’s kindy has raised more than $200 by harnessing the power of social networking and sharing our experience with her facebook friends. I also know that my own school community of Bellevue Park on the Gold Coast has been organising to send more books over which will hopefully arrive soon.
In the recent holidays I was able to go on a massive shopping spree with all this money – to buy more of the type of books that will help students learn to read, and then books to inspire them to keep reading. For my primary school library I stocked up on more levelled readers and I bought two large boxes full of fun novels aimed at early teenagers, of which there were almost none in the high school library.

The easy readers are a hit because suddenly even the lowest students can read!

More and more readers!

Just some of the new books for the highschool library.

I bought sports equipment for children to use during P.E. lessons as the school had none. I chose skipping ropes, frisbees, hula hoops, badminton and tennis sets, a cricket set and a soccer ball and I have a system in place for giving this to each primary class for their P.E. lesson so I can keep track of all the items and none go ‘missing’. Of all the things I have managed to do in this school, perhaps watching a class of kids energetically playing outside now with this colourful equipment is the most gratifying of all. The kids had never used a hula-hoop and these are the big hit among the students. In a week many have mastered the technique and I can just see how much joy this brings to their lives. Even a couple of teachers have cancelled other lessons to take their class out for some fun – secretly longing to play themselves I think. Anyone wondering how to ‘make a difference’ may consider how much joy, enthusiasm, and even health benefits about $150 worth of equipment can bring to a developing world school. Priceless.
Xavier helped me deliver hoops to school.

Go Yeshi!


Plastic tennis/badminton set.

Howzat Yeshi!

But that’s not all! Recently we visited Aungsang village near Chumey where a development agency has built a lovely library that is unfortunately still bare. I bought about 100 books to give the library a kick start. I chose lots of board books for little hands – the main users of the library will be children aged from birth to six years old who spend their days there with their mums who weave in the adjoining weaving room. I will post an update when I am able to deliver these to the library with the help of one of our school teachers who has a strong relationship with the community.
Aungsang library has some nice posters and has great potential, but needs books!

Before this year I could say I had no facebook friends who I had not met personally, but my friendship circle has opened wide and I have many friends now that I’ve met in the virtual domain – including a group of kind-hearted, interested friends from FMS photo-a-day who amaze me daily with their care and interest in our life here. And former Bhutan Canada Foundation teachers Sabrina and Vicky who I hope to soon meet in person feel like old friends from their help, support and friendship.
Without the generosity of Bhutan Canada Foundation supporters we wouldn’t be here at all, wouldn’t have been given the opportunity to network and build friendships with our fellow volunteers who have been a life-line and a source of sanity when the going has been tough.
Here is my big thank you from me to anyone and everyone who has helped directly and indirectly and I feel like the outpouring of generosity is a bundle of positivity that is what the world needs to become a better place. We might be having an impact on a small bunch of students in a small village in Bhutan, but I can feel the goodness has the power in subtle ways to ripple beyond these mountains. I’m sure all those who have given- of their time, concern, knowledge, money or material things are feeling warm and fuzzy anyway – generosity is like that I’m learning, those who give freely are the ones who are happiest. Kadinche la!


  1. What a beautiful post! It is amazing too see how many people from around the world have come together to help bring valuable, useful, and fun materials and resources in to your school and beyond for the students' enjoyment and learning. And what lovely photos!

    1. Thanks Jenna! Its a pleasure to share these pics with everyone who has helped out to show them the joy it brings!

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