Firstly I should apologise for the long break between posts. We are now in full swing at both our schools and it is a rare day when we get home much before 6pm. Sporting, cultural and social events seem to occur with regularity and almost always at very short notice. In the last 2 weeks have had a welcome performance for newly arrived students, basketball, table tennis and volleyball competitions and a baby shower as well as a dinner with Bhutan Canada Foundation which was hosted by the district Governor himself and the busy schedule doesn't look like letting up anytime soon. We also had house guests from BCF on the very day that the bathroom was semi destroyed in the attempt to install a hot water system.
Spring has certainly arrived in Rangjung and with it the weather has become unpredictable, ranging from thunder storms with heavy rain to hot sultry afternoons or incredible, damage causing winds. We have noticed the major effect of these storms is a much less reliable electricity supply but they also supplied us with some delicious field mushrooms which I collected before school one morning. One thing that is great about the change of weather is the school grounds are ablaze with flowering trees and flowers. Unfortunately one of the windiest afternoons resulted in half of a callistemon (bottle brush) tree literally being blown off.
Last week a huge prayer flag was strung up on the aluminium pole that has been standing by since some time last year. At 7.30am as I strolled into the school grounds the smoke from the purifying fire alerted me to the fact that something special was occurring and then the chanting, singing and music that always accompanies these types of rituals became audible. How many schools have a conch shell playing class IX student I wonder?
A group of students led by one of the ancillary staff was assembled in the car park and they were dutifully and devoutly chanting while others laboured at the pole to hoist our newly painted and blessed flag. It took several hours of patience and determination to get it flying and then later the same day heavy winds resulted in it coming down again so the whole process was repeated the following morning.
In the end it took no less than 3 attempts on 2 consecutive days to get it to want to remain flying but it is now a striking feature of the school entrance. Construction has now begun on the prayer wheel which will stand next to it and from the model in the staff room it too will be very ornate and striking.
We now have a full compliment of Class XII students in roles of responsibility in the school and each one has a deputy elected from the Class XI group.
All these house captains, counsellors, and students appointed to be in charge of various essential activities in the school including health in charge, time in charge (who rings the bells for study) mess in charge, cultural leaders, prayer captain, sanitation captain, those who are custodians for various extra-curicular activities and many more I am sure I have now forgotten, were acknowledged formally in a ceremony at the morning assembly on Saturday.
A portrait of the king placed on its own throne stood on the stage where badges of office were pinned on and white ceremonial scarves were given out by the principal and deputy principal. The entire school paid their respects and the newly appointed officers all prostrated.
They were also honoured with a morning tea in the principal's office and I was one of the teaching staff delegated to serve it.
I am now also in the throes of establishing a Photography Club. With only one camera to work with I limited the members to 10 and aimed for a balance across year levels and genders. More than 50 students expressed an interest so we are now embarking on a course of fund raising to buy more cameras so that more students will get the opportunity to participate. Since every time I take my camera to school I am mobbed by students wanting their photo taken, I have decided to sell them prints to start our fund raising drive. The local photo processing shop in Trashigang gave me a good discount for the 300 odd prints we got processed on Saturday. The proprietor was sympathetic to our cause and happy for the new business so he is willing to continue to offer discount prices too. Class photos and individual shots are the most popular but small groups of friends and a shots with Madam Vicky also feature. Our house guests, Kristin and Raewyn, suggested that BCF might even assist us in our fund raising if we write a proposal so that will be on the agenda for the first club meeting this week.
I love that Saturday is a casual dress day and all the students wear their own colourful ghos and kiras instead of uniform.