Getting to Know My Students at Yoezerling High…

Yep. It was a week of teaching high school in Phuentshoeling, Bhutan. Leaving behind the cold in Paro, we drove 5 hours south to the border with West Bengal, India, where we enjoyed a mild jungle climate. The Principal assigned me three subjects: Taichi, Creative Writing, and BodyTalk. He gave me five entire afternoons of two classes each day. I made a schedule and prepared lessons in PowerPoint. For “BodyTalk” I decided to discuss Health and Body Listening – one of my favorite topics!

In creative writing students chose a photograph from my collection of magazine cut-outs, and wrote a short story about it including all the elements – Setting, Character, Plot, Obstacle, Resolution, and Theme or Lesson. These kids are bright 10th – 12th graders. Although Dzonkha is their primary language, they’ve been studying English since 1st grade. Many students wrote on their cell phones.

Some students volunteered to read their stories to the class. They were varied and interesting.

I clapped. But the trouble was I didn’t understand them at all. Seroiusly, this is something to work on, both my comprehension, and their pronunciation. The Bhutanese accent is similar to the Indian accent in spoken English. On subsequent days I noticed my comprehension was improving. Progress! Ha ha!

The second day of creative writing, I showed them how to write a character profile. I read them a short story – The Three Questions, by Leo Tolstoy, about a King and a Hermit. Then we did a character profile of the king. We used simple English words like Attentive, Determined, Honest, Energetic, Persistent, Cautious, Kind, Curious, Perplexed, Shy, Anxious, Afraid, and Mourning his late father. We decided he was a single child and had one best friend.

This is a spelling game in an English grammar class with another teacher. Two concentric circles outside in the courtyard. They walk in opposite directions and clap the other circle’s hands on each letter. I heard them spelling “Shakespeare”.

I had lunch with the school students and staff today. The menu was Rice with Emma Datsi, which is chili peppers in fresh cheese. It’s a simple “Bring your own Plate” outdoor cafeteria.

My Lama’s brother Beyla is the Police Chief of Traffic for the City of Paro, a job which he executes with great passion, kindness, precision, and intensity. He just received a major promotion, recognition for a job well done. His celebration was held January 4th. It is an important ceremony where a person is honored with a big party and a meal. See the huge pile of white khata scarves? Each scarf was presented one at a time by a guest, and placed around Beyla’s neck. When there are too many, they are set on the side.

Hundreds of friends and relatives came from all over Bhutan, bringing gifts and food. Unfortunately I missed the big event as I was teaching in Phuentsholing. These are four of my very closest family: sister Thuji Zam, brother Beyla, sisters Ghalem and Tsering Om.

I’m getting dressed to teach Body Listening in my new Kira. The girls in my hotel reception helped me fold the cuffs right.

In Body Listening class we talked about noticing and interpreting the signals we receive in our lives. I’ve taught this several times, both in Santa Fe and Gubbio, Italy.

We talked about nutritient dense foods, living foods, dead foods, and the sugar cycle.

I am so lucky. While I’m working on teaching duty here, my Lama arranged a hot lunch of my favorite foods. His good friend’s wife prepares a homemade meal and has it delivered to me every day via her helper. Today’s lunch is red rice, mixed veggies, and egg. She doesn’t speak a word of English. But she’s a very good cook and she considers me family. I’m so lucky!!!!

The Word Wall was a great tool for finding interesting vocabulary and colorful descriptions in creative writing. Everybody chose six favorite words to use in their character sketch.

On the second day of creative writing, I gave each group a unique picture and a starting sentence. I asked each student to finish the story with a Setting, Character, Plot, Obstacle, Resolution, and a Final Thought. This picture was of an American boy skate-boarding wildly down the hills of San Francisco.

On the third day of creative writing, I asked the students to write a character sketch of someone in Bhutan that they especially admired. The results were surprising. Some wrote about a parent, some about a friend or lover, and one person wrote about the 4th king. Fortunately I didn’t have to grade them. I asked them to turn in their papers to allow me read their writing in order to plan lessons in the future.

This person admires himself more than anyone else, and explains why.

Oh yes, we did Brain Balancing warm-ups!

And we did the arm raises in Brain Balancing. They got better at it every day.

I’m so excited to be on this team! Yoezerling Higher Secondary School, Paro Bhutan.

We had a team-building workshop today with a very expert teacher. I’m saying good-bye to the students. We’ll meet again in a few weeks.

These boys wanted a photo, so we got connected on FB Messenger. The next semester begins February 1st.

I met Prashant, a Sanskrit scholar and Yoga teacher from Delhi. He’ll be on the staff of the high school next week. I enjoyed his very interesting yoga class. He spoke Hindi and added a few English words for me. We’re on the border of India, so all residents here speak Hindi as well as Dzonkha, the language of Bhutan. Most also speak English, so communicating is easy.

After Yoga Class I stopped into a wonderful juice bar at the new Multi-Athletic Center in Phuentsholing. The owner spent a year in the USA with his brother working and learning in a nutrition bar in New York. His shop opened here just three days ago. It is called Green Planet Juice Bar. He brought VitaMix blenders from the USA and worked for a month to make the wiring compatible. For dinner I tried the most expensive item on the menu, his Raw Super Smoothie with extra almonds. It was delicious! Total cost: $3.00.

Thanks for stopping by! Next week we’ll be back in cold and frigid Paro for a few days. Then very soon going to warm Punakha three hours to the East, to participate in the Lama’s annual family puja. This is a gathering of EVERYBODY in the extended family, with celebrations, food, and ceremonies. They’ve all been busy shopping and preparing. I don’t know what to expect, but every single family member has asked me for the past few months if I’m coming to the “family puja”. So I’m guessing it’s really important. However internet is very doubtful, so I’ll post whenever I can.

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