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Monday, April 23, 2012

The Rainbow Wall

At times, my fifth grade students are my greatest teachers who educate me about their school procedures, such as the cleaning of our classroom.  The first week of school, they informed me that we were supposed to tidy up our classroom and that the principal would be checking.  So every student took the initiative to bring some rags that were cut from a variety of fabrics.  When they arrived to school one morning, they waved around their square tattered rags of every color imagined indicating that they were ready to scrub down the class.  Now, looking back at this moment, I burst into laughter because neither my students nor I foresaw the consequences that were about to take place from those cursed, colorful rags.
Extra Soapy Water

Before we started the cleaning frenzy, we examined our white walls that weren’t too bad.  We identified the areas that needed the most cleaning like the front bottom wall that looked like it had been rained on.  Not only did I want a clean class for my students, but I was hoping that we could impress the principal by having the cleanest class in the school.  So I got my students all pumped up to clean.  We filled a bucket with extremely soapy water and I released them to start dipping their rags into the water to scrub the walls or desks.  I was so immersed in taking pictures of this cleaning bonanza that I didn’t notice that my students hands were turning green, blue, red, orange, purple, etc.  They were so eager to clean that it also took them a few minutes to realize that their hands were slowly turning the color of their rags. 

 Oh Why me?
It wasn’t until I heard the students gasping “Uughhh Ohhhh” that I noticed the walls, desks and floors were now a rainbow of colors.   Apparently, their colorful rags started bleeding its dye when they dipped them into the soapy water and now the water was a bizarre color of paint.  I jumped on a stool, threw my arms out and screamed, “AHHH EVERYONE FREEZE!”  Everyone froze and with worried expressions we just stood in silence for a minute staring at the assortment of colors all over our once white walls.  I thought, Oh why me? So much for having the cleanest walls in the school!  Maybe it will come off!  Oh God, I hope the principal doesn’t kill me for ruining these walls.  What should I do? How much is white paint?
The Before and After

Finally, I wiped the horrid expression off my face.  “No problem! We can fix this,” I said with half enthusiasm.  From the stool, I ordered them to wash their hands outside, dump the weird color of water and refill it with clean soapy water as fast as they could.  Next, I told the students with white rags and scrubbing brushes to use the clean water to scrub the display of wacky colors off the walls before the principal passed by.  Now we all worked taking turns using a few white rags/brushes to scrub the walls, desks and floors trying desperately to remove the various colors of dye.  It seemed like we had been scrubbing forever when we finally gave up.  Although the walls weren’t nearly as vibrantly stained as before, they definitely weren’t white anymore and it looked liked someone had puked all over them. 

As they say in Bhutan, “What to do?”  So I confessed about the mess to the principal and I asked him if I could repaint it.  He was very understanding and actually had a good laugh over it.  Since grades 4-10 compete for cash prizes on who has the best looking classroom, my students and I were determined to re-paint our now yucky looking walls.  It took us four days of our free time to paint and stain the floors, but we finally did it.  I can’t claim that we now have the best looking walls, but I’m just relieved that we no longer have the multicolored stains that hunted me in my sleep. 

Moreover, I have learned a valuable lesson when cleaning a classroom in Bhutan:  When asking students to bring rags for cleaning make sure you tell them to bring white rags as opposed to colored rags, which might leak the dye and ruin whatever you are cleaning.  As the saying goes, you live and you learn!

The pictures below tells the story as it happened in chronological order:  

Wow, kids this wall is very dirty!
Lets clean it and have the cleanest class in the school
Yeah the principal will be so proud of us

Children, I think that's enough soap 

Who's going first?  The green rag is off to wipe the walls
Thank you green rag...
Next?  Here comes the blue and purple rag...

Everyone is following directions... good job kidos!  This is Fun!

Ahh Freeze!  Oh My! What happened to the walls?

Oh I see!  All the rags are bleeding their dye color. Hmmm
What to do?

White rags and brushes only
hurry up and scrub the dye off the walls

Teacher, it won't come off!
Scrub harder!  



  Lets repaint the walls now with some interesting paint
Painting half of the wall

Painting is fun

Wash the floors
No more dirty walls
Wash the dye stains off the floors
All done for the day.  Move the tables back in.
End with a picnic!  We all sampled 16 different curries.

Ninth graders came to help us

Happy Kids

Yes, I get dirty too!  Scrub scrub scrub

Scrubbing paint off the door 
Cleaning our tables to bring them back inside
Hard Workers


Staining our floor a dark red
Stain, Stain, Stain
Sonam is the last one working to make the floor pretty
Oh noo now our hands are stained a dark red.  It never ends...


  1. That is so funny! You made me laugh. It looks like a fun memorable first week of school. You make a great teacher. All your students look like they're having a great time.

    1. OMG FRANK! You made my day! Thanks for following my adventures. Your profile picture is sooo cute. She's very petty! I have so many funny stories for you...

    2. I'd like to hear the stories!? I was reading some article the other day and found out that Bhutan was one of the safest and peaceful places to live on this earth! Its so cool that you are able to experience it first hand. And even though all your family and friends are not there to experience it too, your blog makes it makes it seem like we are all there with you. Keep writing!!!! :)

      Lola is 16 or 17 months now. She is very independent and has her own unique funny/goofy personality. Everyone says she is really smart for her age. She knows 30+ words, starting to put 3 words together in little sentences, walks/runs, and does so much more. She amazes me everyday.

    3. Ya I feel so safe here in Bhutan. We don't have a police station or police officers roaming around in my village. It's really peaceful and we don't worry about kidnappings or robbery here.

      Wow I can't believe lola is 16 months, it's seem like it was just yesterday when she was in her mommy's stomach. It sounds like you are enjoying fatherhood and I'm happy for you. Take care and I'll try to update the blog asap because Bhutan is truly magical...

  2. Interesting read! The fifth graders makes prominent figures in your blog and coincidentally,last year, i used to brag about the fifth graders in my blog:). Good going!

    1. Thanks! They are an interesting group to say the least. I tried going on your blog today, but I didn't see your name on it. Is it the art blog?

      There aint any art in my blog ..i just note down things that happen with me. good day.:)

  3. Awwwww so cute and funny at the same time what great kids you have they seem so sweet and respectful.You are looking so good and happy.I love your title it fits so good.Vanessa is almost there we have been buying last minute things and getting her room ready been so busy.I will keep reading and miss you.

    1. Awe thanks tia! I'm so excited for Vanessa! xoxo

  4. Very funny,fun pics too!That was a lot of work double the work that is . It looks like everything turned out ok. And the students look like they are enjoying getting their hands stained.Fun memories with their western teacher.

    1. My classroom is looking so amazing now. I will have to post some recent pictures because we have been working so hard to transform it into something beautiful. I love it and it's starting to feel very comfy.

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  6. Reminiscent of my childhood days in that school some 25 years ago. Thank you for your post, makes my day going through it:)

    1. Sonam thank you so much for your comment. It encourages me to write more and share my experiences knowing that others enjoy reading them. I'll update some more about the school for you soon. Reminiscing is fun! Are you following from Japan or Bhutan?

    2. Hello Miss Sabrina,

      You are most welcome, it’s my pleasure. Thank you so much for bringing us the day-to-day happenings of the school I hold dear to my heart. I did my primary schooling there, later taught in the same school after my grade 10 and 12 examination as a temporary teacher, and above all I was born and raised in that locality. As I regularly read your posts I reminisce with fixed feeling, fun and emotional. I am in Japan at the moment. It’s so humbling to read how you are learning Bumthab’s style of going about business. I appreciate it. How are you adapting to the harsh weather of Bumthang? :)

    3. Wow that's so interesting to meet a former student and a teacher of Chumey who now lives in Japan! I think that I love blogging now ha.

      I'm going to dedicate a whole blog entry to the harsh weather in Bumthang. I have never felt cold like this before lol and I'm so happy that it is getting warmer. You will probably really reminisce when I write about it as well as the mountains. I wish that I had more free time to write. Bumthang is so interesting and I have hundreds of little stories to entertain everyone. I love this place! Do keep following. I love your comments...

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  8. Haha, It seems you had a tough day though fun filled. lol. Anyways, it turned out to be a blessing in disguise as your class has become much better than before. Nice post and pics! :) Keep posting.

    1. Yes, you are sooo right! It took me a while to see it that way: a blessing in disguise! hahaha

  9. Hey Brina, that was a funny post... you must be keeping your co-workers on their toes as well as the think you will be the one teacher that they will always remember.... That American I have to get your email from your dad so that I can send you pic's of the new bundle of joy that will be arriving just a few weeks...also of everything that you have missed since your departure... Well take care and no more trying to clean the classroom..... Vanessa....

  10. Hey Nessa, ya I hope that they will always remember me as I will never forget them. I love them! Thanks for reading it and sending me a comment. Read it to the boys, they will like it. And do email me the pics. I saw all the baby shower pics. Very Fancy Dancy! Miss you lots! HUGS and Kisses xoxoxo