Wednesday, October 11, 2017

The legendary Tshongpon Norbu Zangpo and his riding Rhino

Meme Sherab 84, a resident of Bangtsho, Dewathang, narrated the following story for LME students on his visit as a guest speaker to the class. Besides, he talked about barter system, which existed as a common practice of trading within a small village and across wider communities then. Moreover, he shared, that the trade was not only with the exchange of goods, but also services on day to day basis.

Once, the Rhinosaur was believed to be merchant Norbu Zangpo’s riding animal when he travelled for his business in India and Tibet through Bhutan.
One of the routes merchant Zangpo took was via Dewathang to Assam in India. Consequently, today a tall and big tree growing right at the beginning of Dewathang town is his legacy, believed to be from his walking stick and few meters away, is his cooking stove, the tri-stone in a circle.
Those days, all the merchants from Bhutan and Tibet, who took the route, circumambulate the tree and the stove as a sign of respect and devotion for merchant Zangpo. Even to these days, the residents of the town look after the area and offer incense often.
It was believed that one day, as the merchant travelled for his regular business, his riding animal fled away to Manas, the South Central foothills of Bhutan. So, the merchant Zangpo became very angry. Subsequently, it was believed, that he subdued the Rhino and prohibited its entrance to the South East of Bhutan. That is why today, we don’t see any Rhino in the south-east region of Bhutan.
Meme Sherab has asked us to closely study the skin pattern of Rhino. The saddle, which was used by Zangpo on Rhino then, can be seen these days on its skin pattern. It was believed, that the Rhino fled away with the saddle on its back.  

Friday, September 8, 2017

Japanese monks are usually good in paintings. They practiced painting not to become famous artists but to build focus and gain concentration skills.  They found drawing and painting to be one of the best medium to get to higher levels of concentration. These days, especially teachers try every means to gain student’s attention in the classrooms.  One way could be indulging students in art activities that will bring in educational and personal benefits in long run. 
So to bring art as an important aspect of LME curriculum Dr. Yang Gyeltshen, a lead teacher has recently visited Trashiyangtse Zorig Chosum Institute to interact with Zorig Instructors and collect relevant materials for the development of LME curriculum Unit on Art and Culture. 

Wednesday, July 26, 2017

Forty-one monks of the Chokyi Gyatso Buddhist Institute in Dewathang, Samdrup Jongkhar, are taking part in organic gardening classes that aspire to teach sustainable nurturing of soil through practical activities.
The Organic Gardening class is part of Lhomon Education’s curriculum to provide opportunity to learn the basics of livelihood and give hands on experience.
Lhomon Education (LME) is a grassroots initiative to foster the development of innovative curricula designed specifically for Bhutanese students to integrate principles of Gross National Happiness effectively and practically.
Lhomon Society is helping teachers to create unique GNH-based curricula for use in a variety of educational environments.
Lhomon Education currently is a pilot program.
“Among many practical and concrete manifestations of GNH vision, the use of vegetable gardens is important to teach key dimensions of the science curriculum,” said Dawa, who is a resident teacher at the Buddhist Institute. “They learn about the elements necessary for healthy soil and ways of growing healthy food products without the use of chemical fertilizers.”
The Institute has created a garden to promote organic gardening and instill in the young minds the Bhutanese farming traditions, and its role, in the long run, to achieve food security and self-sufficiency in the country.

“The study guides the students toward a genuine and heartfelt stewardship of the earth and impart in them a deeper understanding of the interconnection and interdependence law of nature through practical means and not just through the books,” said Dawa. “Making their own composts using green and dry leaves, cow dung and urine functions as a means of teaching science, cultural history and literature, and other GNH principles and values which they’ll learn to uphold in the process.”
The students learn the basic aspects of organic gardening as part of their lessons, which is taught by a local farmer. The students engaged in the activity are encouraged to develop team work and cooperation rather than going for competition among their groups.
Dawa said that the students are their own architects in the garden, shaping their own beds, calculating, measuring, and designing them in whatever way they desire. He said the depth, width and the line that they keep track of while sowing seeds are an estimation and mathematical concept in itself.
“I prefer working in the garden as compared to sitting in the class than to just listening to the organic gardening from my teachers,” said 14-year-old monk Sonam Wangchuk. “I get to work with my friends as a team. Besides, I’ve learned to make compost and garbage enzyme. I also learned to do measurements for the compost shelter. I like practical gardening work.”
The smiles and satisfactions on the students’ face during the harvest period indicate their own appreciation of the hard work and hands on learning experience that is taking place.
Lhomon Education plans to encourage and educate the community and schools around to take up organic gardening by teaching them methods of composting and other related organic practices.

By Sonam Yangdon, a journalist; TheBhutanese  

Tuesday, June 6, 2017

Community Service

“We make a living by what we get, but we make a life by what we give.”  Mother Teresa
On the 21st of May, more than 100 students from Lhomon Education, Jigme Namgyel Engineering College and staff of Samdrup Jongkhar Initiative took part in collecting pebbles at Rekhey community.
The volunteer service started with the recitation of karma yoga prayer. The Karma Yoga is a practice to apply the supreme methods for refining our intentions and motivations to carry out any service selflessly for the greater benefit of all sentient beings. The volunteer group was briefed to perform the task as sincerely as possible with right mindset to accumulate merit and positive energy. The volunteer service has been a very much part of LME students to inculcate a sense of responsibility for the community and also to practice selflessness through karma yoga. It is also to provide oppourtunity for students to take up leadership role and to inspire other people that an individual can make a responsible difference in our community.

It was a tiring, yet satisfactory and fulfilling day in the service of our community.

Wednesday, April 19, 2017

A poem about wind --- Written by Senior LME students

The wind that blows from the south
We can’t see it but can feel it

The wind that blows from the south
Is a gentle and calm breeze

The wind that blows from the south
Goes into our ears and noses

The wind that blows from the south
Makes happy with cool and fresh feel

The wind that blows from the south
Carries chirping of birds 

The wind that blows from the south
Makes tall bamboo and tree dance

The wind that blows from the south
Helps bamboo leaves flutter and whistle

The wind that blows from the south
Makes white clouds move in the sky

The wind that blows from the south
Blows away dry and brown leaves

The wind that blows from the south
Makes dragonfly and butterfly hover on it wings

The wind that blows from the south
Makes a black eagle float on its wide wing  

Tuesday, March 14, 2017

A Bow Drill

How can one possibly make a fire in a situation where there is no fire ignition tool?  What if one is gone missing in a jungle where there is no settlement. Imagine how you would react to this situation where there is no matchstick or lighter? This situation is difficult for those who have not heard of ancient ways of making fire, however, it is not challenging for those who have little understanding of friction and its practical application in igniting fire during ancient time.
Making fire using scientific knowledge of friction may seem classical and not so fashionable these days, nevertheless, it is essentially an inherited wisdom that our humanity has survived and succeeded through many generations using it. In fact, we have to cherish this age old tradition that endured generations after generations.
To upkeep traditional and cultural practices intact, Lho Mon Education taught a lesson on how to make fire using a bow drill. The fire was very important paraphernalia for the survival of early people. Deprived of effortless modern tools those days, people had to come up with simple devices to help make fire easily. Bow drill is a simple machine to make fire rubbing two pieces of wood together. It is made using bamboo, wood, branches and string. The tool generates heat after vigorously rubbing and produces fire ember from which fire is lit. We also need some dry grasses and sawdust to turn fire ember into the flame. There are specific soft woods found in our locality (Dewathang) that were used particularly for this purpose, such as phrangshing (a soft local tree) and khartong mancha (special stone).
For students, it was fun trying to rub with their last muscle strength and often break into laughter with a fume of smoke from the tool. With patience and repeated effort, it was a fascinating moment for them to witness fire ember and finally make fire using dry grasses. The experience was not only learning how to make fire but it was a practical demo of how friction leads to fire and understand how early people had to take hardship.

This art of making fire may not be completely useful in present day especially in an era of abundant light equipment, however, it connects previous generations’ cultural practices to the present generation.

Wednesday, January 11, 2017

Farm as a classroom

Schools provide space for creative thinking and learning wholesome and healthy growth of our children, who are always inquisitive. Schools help children find meaning of their lives and prepare them to live their lives well as good human beings. Students are not in schools just to follow the mundane daily routine of completing the syllabus and passing the exams. Schools help children to find joy in knowing about and exploring the world - simple things like source of water, food, plastics, etc. Students learn through gradual exposure to external world and by connecting the inner self with the outside world. Students learn by doing things themselves.

Here with Lhomon Education (LME), we provide students the opportunity to learn and prepare themselves for their lives and to fulfil their daily needs through practical hands on experience. LME endeavours to make learning joyful to its students.
One of the activities carried out by the students is organic garden, through which we strive to close the gap between knowledge and practical aspect of learning. The garden becomes the classroom. Students make compost; terrace the land and plant vegetables. It is part of their lesson and taught by a local farmer, who does not have a teaching degree. Instead of competition, cooperation and team work amongst students is encouraged. Harvesting vegetables from their garden is a matter of great joy and satisfaction for the students. Learning is taking place simultaneously.
When I was student, we had to do agriculture every Saturday. We did not learn anything from it as we were all focused on production since it was a competition between houses and classes. Learning on the farm and from a farmer was unthinkable then. We must be reminded that students learn more when they are able to connect with the external world, otherwise what they are taught in class remains abstract and irrelevant. And in LME, students enjoy gardening and they do not focus on production. And, I learn more here than during my sixteen years of schooling.