Tuesday, May 3, 2011

Teachers' Day

After the torrential rain the afternoon and evening before both our school's big celebrations, Ian and I were both fearing that the effort of the all students in the last few weeks preparing for this huge day in Bhutanese schools would all have been in vain. So it was with great delight that we awoke to a clear cool morning with fog hanging over the mountains and no rain in sight.

After my first walk through the muddy fields to school I arrived to see banners flying and students busily setting up for the performances and speeches to come. Both the assembly area and the Multi Purpose Hall, MPH, had been decorated with banners and glitter filled balloons and there was a definite air of excitement. I took up my usual position in the staffroom and began my morning marking ritual only to be shooed out by students who wanted all staff to assemble in the parking area. One day without marking would actually be a treat so off I wandered. We were to meet up with other colleagues and be presented with a rosette by the student  counsellors.

We also took the opportunity to take a few photos of the staff who were decked out in their finest for the day while we waited for the late arrivals.

Within a short time we were summoned to the assembly area where students had ben patiently waiting for 45 minutes. As we walked down the banner decorated path these two traditional musicians set the mood for the coming celebrations.

After we were all greeted and assembled, the speeches and flag unfurling took place. From the folds of the flag fell hundreds of rose petals and once homage had been paid to the goddess of wisdom, balloons were burst showering glitter over the officials. Some speeches were delivered in both English and Dzongkha with the twist of the Dzongkha teacher delivering in English and the Indian Math teacher delivering in Dzongkha. He was also especially decked out in a gho for the first time and this delighted the students. Then it was time for the welcome dance in which the whole student contingent participated.

We teachers were served tea by the counsellors while the students completed the final touches on the MPH. There were teachers from nearby intuitions and a group of ex-students now studying at university level who had returned for the event and they joined us so it was quite the undertaking to accommodate us all in 2 separate locations but the counsellors and senior students made it all seem very effortless. Since the staff were really in their best traditional clothes including boots for many of the men I suggested a staff photo before we moved off.

As we entered the MPH we were directed upstairs to the balcony to light butter lamps while the whole school sang. I am impressed at how moving these mass choruses are and how committed and heartfelt the students' involvement is.

Once inside a full program honouring each of us with tributes, gifts and ceremonial scarves began the proceedings and I was very impressed that every single staff member, teaching or otherwise, was included. I would have to say that the loudest cheers went up for the head cook and the driver and it speaks volumes for the work that these 2 and the many other cooks and equally well appreciated other ancillary staff do, that 600 students wanted to express their heart felt gratitude to them. More speeches and short film clips and a single song took us to lunchtime and the program of entertainment had barely begun. It was then that I discovered that we would be served lunch and that 2 football matches would divide up the remaining entertainment which was scheduled to take place on the soccer field after lunch.

One of the ironies of the day is that it is a public holiday except that we teachers spend the usual long day plus some hours at school.....

Meanwhile down at the Lower Secondary School...

I gave a speech about Teacher's day and education in general, I don't think many people listened or really were capable of understanding but I gave it my best shot! I was by no means the only speaker on the day.

Different classes gave performances, usually dance numbers and mostly of a traditional nature to honour and please us teachers. The whole day started for the 'captains' around 5.30 am when they began decorating and setting up the area. Messages were stuck onto the wall of one of the classrooms and balloons were strung up giving the whole place a really festive atmosphere, well done captains!

It really was quite a difficult logistical operation, but cooperation between staff and students and a lot of hard work on the day ensured success.

The dances were one of the few times that boys actually interact with girls in anything other than a combative manner, ours is a Lower Secondary school remember...

I was never this shy when I was in grade three was I???

The audience loved the whole celebration. Each of them received some biscuits and a glass of orange cordial which added to their enjoyment.

Even the resident school dogs put in an appearance on the day although unlike some mornings during the National Anthem, they remained pretty quiet.

The class four girls stole the show with their rather modern dance. I wouldn't be at all biased just because I am their class teacher... The boys flatly refused to have anything to do with singing or dancing, instead preferring to remain as spectators. 

The most embarrassing moments were when the students were handing out their presents to teachers. I got a swag of pens, mainly red, a good half dozen coffee cups, a lovely scarf- hand loomed no less, a household ornament which was for both madam and sir, and a neat little photo album. I told all the kids today that were naughty, crestfallen looks- that they shouldn't be buying me anything, they should keep their money for themselves- righteous indignation at that idea!

All in all, an excellent Teachers' Day at both schools.

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