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Sunday, January 20, 2013

How did I end up in Bhutan?

Loving Bhutan
I often contemplate on how I ended up in Bhutan, which never fails to bring a smile to my heart.  I decided to blog my little inspirational story, as my last blog about Bhutan before I start sharing a bit of my experiences in India.  While I was writing the last sentence of this blog entry into my journal on a train to Delhi, three Bhutanese college students randomly peeked their heads through my curtains and to their surprise they saw some pictures of Bhutan on my travel partner's laptop.  After a few minutes of chatting, they asked me, "How did you end up in Bhutan?"

I started laughing saying, "Funny you ask because I just wrote about it in my journal."  I explained how one evening about three years ago, I was curled up in bed flipping through the channels when I came across a documentary about a Buddhist monk looking for his master teacher who reincarnated somewhere in the Himalayan mountains.  There was something about the Buddhist monk trailing along isolated footpaths  searching in and out of remote villages that made my heart flutter.  Instantly, I fell in love with the scenery of the Himalayas and I became mesmerized by Buddhism. 

Then I became even more fascinated when the following program was about the Kingdom of Bhutan, which is a Buddhist country nestled in the Himalayan mountains.  I had never heard of Bhutan and I felt like I had just discovered the world's best kept secret:  The last Shangri-La. 
My heart fermented with a deep longing to one day step foot in this Kingdom of Happiness.  My desire was so strong it bursted through my chest with pain from the thought of never seeing it in person; I was committed to a Masters in Teacher's Education Program and I thought that there was no way I could ever go.  It seemed too far out of my reach.  However, I didn't understand the power of love.  I didn't know that I lit a little flame inside me so bright that it would never die and from that moment on, with each beat of my heart, I was just one more heart beat away from living my new dream.  

As weeks turned into months, slowly I forget about Bhutan and I got swept away with the routines of life.  A few years later, I had successfully completed my Master's Degree and was teaching summer school.  Unfortunately, the tidiness of life had swept away Bhutan from my memory!  Then one day, I found myself siting at my desk during lunch feeling like I was not living my destiny although I had no idea what my destiny could be.  Just then, suddenly I felt an urge to type in the computer "teach abroad."  Following my urge, I came across a website that advertised to teach in Spain, Europe, etc. With each glance at the names of the different countries, I felt nothing and said  "na, na, na."  

Finally, I saw the word, Bhutan, among a dozen of other countries and I felt a wave of energy run through me.  My head tilted to the side as I thought, Hmm that sounds familiar, I think that I have herd of that country before.  Immediately, I clicked on it and it took me to the Bhutan Canada Foundation (BCF) homepage, which just so happened to be hiring teachers to teach in Bhutan.  As I saw the pictures of Bhutan, a floodgate of the love I once felt when I first saw it several years before came pouring back.  Once again, I felt that burning desire of flame grow even brighter than before as I whispered to myself, "I know that place!"  

I applied right there and then!  The next day I got a call for an interview.  A few interviews later, I was hired and re-arranging my life to head half way around the world.  When I got to Bhutan, I learned that out of 250 applications and 100 skpe interviews, I was one of 18 teachers selected from around the world boarding an airplane to Bhutan.  

My point is not to brag because I don't believe that there was anything special about me that got me selected over others.  Instead my point is to share that I believe I made it to Bhutan despite the odds because of the power of love for a dream; when you feel a calling to do something or when you feel that your heart is lit with a burning desire, faith can move you in directions that we can't always see.  Then at the right moment, our dreams may manifest with an open heart that is willing to jump into the unknown.  For instance, I was terribly nervous to leave behind my sweet life in San Diego all to follow a nagging calling to teach in Bhutan and now in hindsight, I'm so happy that I followed my heart because I was led to the most beautiful experience of my life.  It was beyond what I had ever dreamed could be possible.  The scenery was breathtaking,  I made amazing friendships, my heart was touched by the sweetest children and Bhutan stretched the depths of my perceptions.


Thus, when my teaching contract was coming to an end, I wasn't quite ready to leave, but I felt that I had reached a personal growing capacity.  I felt like I was being drawn to the next phase of my path:  learning about Buddhism.  So when the Rimphoce of Gangtay personally asked me to teach the nuns at his Pema Choling nunnery in Bhutan (which is another story), I couldn't resist to have one more magical experience in Bhutan.  I'm thrilled to report that after my travels in India, I will be returning in the spring to to live and teach in a Buddhist nunnery for six months.  I can't wait to see what Bhutan has in store for me next.  

My Best Friends in Bhutan
One of my favorite memories:  My girls having a slumber party at my home on the last day of school
Dinner
Stickers 
Sleeping Time
See ya later

37 comments:

  1. Hi Sabrina, I just checked in to see if you had written anything about India yet, but it was so lovely to read instead about your dream coming true. Strangely enough, i'd just been sitting here in Bangkok unable to sleep thinking that all I have been dreaming of for more than a year is about to begin, one more day and we'll be in Bhutan! Can't wait to see how it unfolds. Can't wait to meet you too! Hope you are having an 'enlightening' time in India xx

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    1. Hey Andrea,

      I have been thinking about you! I'm so excited for you! I can't wait to hear about your experiences. This must be a very exciting time for you and your family. Is your blog linked with BCF. I would love to follow you.

      Tashi Delek

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  2. Hello Sabrina,
    That was an engaging read. It is really touching to know that you had so much love for an unknown country called Bhutan since many years ago. The fact that you almost forgot your dream to step on this land when it came rushing and reviving with full force that it eventually drove you to work in Bhutan makes it even more beautiful a story. I am sure this is one of the few such heartfelt stories of love for Bhutan by foreigners. You have been a great help to Bhutanese students. You not only visited and enjoyed your stay here but made sure you give back to Bhutan more than enough of what you have been able to get.
    Thank you so much. And your wish to extend your stay by six more months in a Buddhist nunnery is an unmistakable prove of how much you love Bhutan and for that matter Buddhism, which is even more heartening. It was nice knowing you here and becoming good friends because you wrote many good things about Bhutan which we Bhutanese fail to observe sometimes.
    Enjoy your travel in India and yeah, let's hope Bhutan has more to offer you in these coming six months of your service. Bhutan will never forget the effort and support you have rendered, Sabrina.
    Looking forward to blog updates about your trips in India.

    Take care and keep in touch.
    Langa

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    1. Langa,

      What's new? I'm glad that you liked my story. I enjoy being a part of your homeland and I'm so honored to return. In India, everyone seems to really like Bhutan and the King. They ask me lots of questions about Bhutan. Now the next time we meet up we can share our stories about India lol.

      Study hard and continue to keep in touch.

      Sabrina

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    2. Yeah, many of them do. Sure, Sabrina. We will have lots to talk about. :)

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  3. Hi Sabrina what a beautiful story Im so happy for you to your next adventure!Love you.

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  4. HELLO,Sabrina I enjoy reading your post.The slumber party looks like fun times.I hope you are safe in your travels and having great days.We miss you take care we'll talk soon love you Mom & Dad.

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    1. Thanks ma and pa,

      Talk to you soon! Just give me a ring...

      Love ya all

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  5. Hmm..that is Karma we call in Buddhism that you so got your time to live your life in Bhutan:) I loved this entry too. Aboveall, i loved the way you dealt with your kids despite too many odds against you. Surprised that you are now in India...do come back and tell us more about everything. Miss talking to you:)

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    1. Thanks so much Sonam! It's going to be a bummer that I won't see ya and the family in Bumthang, but now I have a good excuse to go to Gelephu.

      See ya soon.

      Tell Dawa that I said hi.

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  6. Very interesting article to read. Seems like you have some karmic-connection with Bhutan and Buddhism. May you be always good and healthy and be kind to all the sentient beings.
    With best wishes in your life.

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    1. Ya I wonder what my Karmic connection is, sounds interesting. Well thanks a lot for your kind words.

      xoxo

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  7. Very beautiful story.Keep writing. :)

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    1. Thank you! I should get back to writing soon. Have a good day.

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  8. lovely stories, thanks for helping bhutanese kids. keep blogging

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  9. Hi Sabrina,

    Dear Sabrina,
    Now, no new blogs, no updates, no news of you....hope you are fine and going well, where ever you are, what ever you do. Hope you will return to Bhutan and help educate our children. We remain ever grateful and thankful for the education, love and care you have given to our children and education family. Hope to hear from you, and will be most happy to see you visiting Bhutan again soon.
    xxxx,Pema

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    1. Hello Dear Pema,

      How are you? So wonderful to hear from you. I explored India for several months learning about Buddhism and doing some meditation retreats. It was a wonderful experience. I'm currently in Thailand waiting for my Visa to come back to Bhtuan to teach the nuns at Pema Choling nunnery in Tang. I'm so excited to come back because I'm really missing my students, friends and the beauty of the country! I hope we can meet when I get back.

      Take care and lots of love,

      Sabrina

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    2. Oh one other thing,

      Did you see the blog I wrote to you answering your questions several months ago?

      xoxo

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    3. Hi Sabrina,

      I' m truly grateful and thankful for the pain and time you have taken answer my questions on Democracy and Politics. It's so enlightening insights you have you provide to us as "outsider's views" on Bhutanese nascent, fledgling democracy.But, let me tell you that, many people who you come across will certainly consider you as part of the Bhutanese family. It is because you are now adapted and accustomed to the Bhutanese way of life--living relatively a simple yet have enough time to do what ever you wish to do in your life here in Bhutan. Moreover, your greater understanding and views on Bhutan and your love for school children and willingness to contribute towards the educational needs for school and children gives us enough reasons for us, as Bhutanese, to not lose you some day from the Bhutanese family.Indeed, you are very much part of the change, that the country is going through---educational reforms is one of them. We can see our education ministry injecting in many foreign teachers to teach school children in various parts of the country through teachinbhutan.org/‎ channel. We welcome this noble initiative by the ministry. Were it not for this initiative, we wouldn't have known such a beautiful, kind foreign lady like Sabrina..LOL.

      Anyway, hope you are enjoying your time at Tang Nunnery.

      With warmest regards and lots of love,

      Pema
      pemdzng@gmail.com (can be contacted on email as well)

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    4. Kuzuongpola Pema,

      It was my pleasure to write the post for you on democracy. I'm very excited to return to Bhutan and see all my "extended" family members who have adopted me into their family. I have been travelling while I am waiting for my Bhutan visa to finalize and out of all my travels, there is no place like Bhutan. It's so special to my heart. I'm hoping I will get my visa sometime this week so I can return to Bhutan quickly and meet the nuns who I will be teaching and working with. I have been gone for 6 months and I'm really craving emadatsi lol.

      Thank you again for your kind words. I can only imagine how you must inspire many people with your kindness.

      Lots of Love,

      Sabrina

      P.S. When I fly into Paro (hopefully in a 2 weeks), I will email you and maybe we can have coffee in Thimphu.

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  10. Hi,
    I chanced upon your blog and got intrigued by the fact that you mentioned Bhutan and the fact that you were into teaching children there.
    Its a lovely country that i like to visit on every given opportunity, let me put it this way, i kind induce myself to visit there. As for the teaching, i myself am into it and would like to do something in Bhutan as well, though i haven't been able to figure out exactly what i want to do.
    Your blog is a refreshing change from the sad commentaries we stumble across. No wonder Bhutan is a land of happiness and its contagious if you are there.
    Loved your blog,
    Thanks
    Sac

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    1. Hi,

      I'm glad it refreshed you. It is truly a beautiful country and I really hope that you get the chance to come. You can look at Bhutan Canada Foundation to see if they have any job openings to teach next year. Good luck to you. I can't wait to come back to Bhutan to write about it again.

      Thanks a bunch

      Sabrina

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  11. Hi,
    Great to have your reply. I have visited Bhutan often due to my Business interest there and i want to make it a permanent fixture in my visiting calender. Not to sure if i can take up a teaching responsibility but would like to make a difference in some other way. May be counselling or something.
    Anyways fantastic that you would be back in Bhutan and update your blog. Looking forward to reading more of it.
    Thanks,
    Sac

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  13. Wow you have been to Bhutan many times! You are very lucky. I was curious about what's your business interest?

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  14. Hi,
    Well i run a training institute in India near Bhutan where i train students for various Entrance Exams mainly to do with Management, Law and Banking.
    Also have started a venture where we make Modular kitchens and my visit to Bhutan mainly Thimphu pertains to this venture.
    Aside, have you come back to Bhutan, keep updating and writing :-)
    Cheers

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    1. That's great! I haven't got my visa yet, but as soon as I get it, I will be there. You are lucky that you don't need a visa to get into Bhutan. I'm jealous lol.

      Cheers

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  15. Yeah, Hope you get the visa soon. I have gathered from your writings that you would be teaching meditation techniques, i myself have been trying with some success. Can you give me a narrative of how you do it. Would be great if you could drop an email or give me a link. My email is sac2goal@gmail.com.

    Cheers and Have fun...

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  16. Hi Sabrina, it's a very inspiring read =) thanks for sharing

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  17. Sabrina, we had a rendezvous with you on a pass leading into Bhumtang ( my wife Peggy and me) soon after you arrived. Are you back in California? We would like to catch up with you again.
    Raymond Neutra MD

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    1. Hi Raymond and Peggy! Wow what a surprise! It's so good to hear from you and it's strange timing because I am in California at the moment, but I'm up late doing last minute packing to catch an early flight tomorrow back to Bhutan to teach in a Bumthang nunnery. I would of loved to have met up with you two. Will you be making any trips back to Bhutan in the next 6 months? If not we will definitely have to catch up when I get back to California.

      I look forward to sharing some pictures with you and hearing about the work you accomplished in Bhutan.

      xoxo

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  18. i have made my plan to visit bhutan .. i felt really good to know abt bhutan by reading yrs blog..

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  19. Love this story. I actually volunteered in Tonga for one year and relate to jumping into the unkonwn. I still feel a pull to go back overseas. I'm not a teacher - but I'm thinking about it.

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