Saturday, April 14, 2012

How to Get an Intern in Bhutan

Anwen at the market with her big lemon

It is possible to impose a western way of doing things in Bhutan, making people stick to schedules, getting "straight" answers, doing things "logically". But I find when I relax a bit and let the Bhutanese way take over, sometimes a little magic happens. There is an undercurrent of unspoken, indefinable activity that flows through the culture. Sometimes I worry it might dry up if too much external influence is exerted.

Two Sundays ago, I went to the Sunday vegetable market in Paro to stock up on the basics (mostly inorganic produce imported from India, sadly) and meet up with my good friends Yann and Sally. We've made a little habit of meeting at the market then fixing lunch at my house and hanging out on the verandah every Sunday afternoon. This fulfills a major aspect of GNH – being social with friends, enjoying the outdoors, taking time to cook healthy meals.

I promise this story is getting somewhere...

Yann and Sally have a bright eyed daughter named Anwen who, being closer to the ground and also more attentive than us adults, found a pen drive amongst the chilies at the market. She showed it to Yann who showed it to me and back at my place we plugged it in to see if we could track down the owner. Judging from the files, I quickly knew that it had to be someone involved in integrated curriculum development and soon found a name: Mr. Karchung. So I called my friend who is a lecturer at Paro College of Education and asked him if he knows someone named Mr. Karchung. Of course he did. This is a small country. Mr. Karchung called me and I invited him over for tea. Turns out he lives just down the road.

Also turns out he is developing curricula for remote schools who require alternatives because of their highly differentiated needs. It's common for small remote schools to have only one teacher for a school of 40 students at all different levels. So we talked about Mrs. Das's active learning strategies and differentiated instruction and after handing over his pen drive, I invited him to the July workshop. I think he'll be a perfect addition to our group.

So because of the memory chip lying in the chilis and the sharp eyes of Anwen and all the little causes and conditions, we had this fortunate meeting.

But it gets better. The next day Mr. Karchung called again. He said that his daughter Sherub Chokyi, who just graduated from Samtse College, would like to meet with me. I'd mentioned that I'd been seeking a Bhutanese counterpart and Mr. Karchung said she was interested in possibly helping us out. So today they both came back over and we had a good meeting. I found Sherub Chokyi to be smart and eager and genuinely interested in the subject at hand. So I loaded her up with movies (Schooling the World and Dhamma Brothers), books (the MindUP manual) and some sticky notes and asked her to start familiarizing herself. She'll start on April 20. I finally have my intern! I hope to learn much from her. Thanks Anwen!

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