How did I end up in Bhutan not knowing what my teaching schedule was going to be or what Bhutan's schools were like? This was the question that kept ringing in my head on my first day of school in Bhutan. As I walked to my class to meet my fifth grade students, I wondered how well they spoke English, what exactly would I do with them since I had no school supplies yet and what did my classroom look like. I pondered about what I would do if we couldn't understand each other since their first language is Dzongkha or the local language, Bumthap. Even though they had been learning English since kindergarten, I didn’t know if their English was strong enough to engage in reading comprehension, writing, etc. I had no clue what to expect or even how long the day would be. However, I was still engulfed in a cloud of love over the morning assembly that these thoughts had little effect on me. Nevertheless, this was a day of many surprises...
The first surprise came on my way to class. Whenever I would pass by a student of any age, they would bow to me and say good morning madam. This made my eyes bug out of my head like a cartoon character. I couldn't imagine anyone bowing to me all year. Finally, as I was approaching my class, I could see all my fifth graders beautiful, brown faces pressed against the windows waiting in anticipation for the lady in pants. A couple of students were even posted outside as “the look out students” and when they saw me coming, they swiftly ran into the classroom shouting in Dzongkha that I was near. In an instant, I could see the class scrambling away from the windows and I could hear a stampede of feet tramping to their tables.
|My Cute Fifth Graders|
Next, I entered the building and came upon two narrow shutter doors. I could hear the kids whispering up a ball of excitement behind the mysterious doors. The way the shutters opened up into the classroom, made me feel like I was walking into something grand and I was. As I stepped in, twenty-five kids eagerly stood up and in sync shouted, “GOOD MORNING MADAM!!!” (Madam is for married females, so they should have clearly said Miss, but they usually refer to all women as Madam). They remained standing up giggling and looking at each other with blushing cheeks until I realized that they wouldn’t sit down unless I gave them permission. After I told them to please sit down, they chorally responded, “THANK YOU MADAM!!!” Hmmm how respectful, I thought, I think that I can get used to this. What a huge change…
THE GREEN CHALK BOARD AND WOODEN STOOLS
|THE GREEN CHALKBOARD|
|Sitting on Wooden Stools|