Sunday, March 16, 2014

A lot can happen in a single day in Samtengang MSS – A photo essay

Today was a huge day in Samtengang Middle Secondary School, but like almost every other day it began with assembly.

The prayer captain kept the beat and rhythm of the prayers regular with his bell ringing.

The school captain was in his usual position keeping a careful eye on proceedings and when necessary calling the shots and keeping order.

Purifying smoke wafted over the assembled student body.

The TOD (Teacher on Duty) read the essential notices and informed the students when they would finally be able to meet with their parents.

Parents had been arriving and gathering at various points around the school since well before the usual beginning to the school day and they were all loaded with thermoses and insulated containers containing home cooked picnic lunches for their children and any others.

The annual parent teacher meeting was the order of the day but both parents and students were very obviously keenly awaiting the opportunity to chat and eat together.

Within 30 minutes of the assembly ending, the hall was full of parents and students about to receive awards for the their academic achievements in 2013.

While parents were briefed on the many aspects of the school about which they need to be informed, students assembled again on the sports field.

Just the previous day the long awaited arrival of the school track suits and coloured sports tops for the houses had occurred and distribution was imminent.

My class VIII students wasted no time in claiming their size once our class set had been handed over but the process was in fact fraught with difficulties.

Despite the mismatched sizes and the need to return all the tracksuits after a hour an a half of frantic activity outdoors in the bright sunshine, friends still had plenty to smile about with lunch and family time looming fast.

Meeting over and it was time for tea and a quick snack for parents who were mobbed by their offspring the moment they escaped the hall.

The business of the day was to sign off on the letter of undertaking and then it was time to share those picnic lunches.

Parents who had no way to chat with me and no real interest anyway positively mobbed me and every other class teacher holding the paperwork required.  They were only concerned with getting those contact telephone numbers recorded and signatures or thumbprints on the sheet so their precious family time could begin.

Within 15 minutes 33 of my 35 students were eagerly leading family members to our classroom. I had told them that if they wanted a photo of themselves and the members of their family who were present today, that’s where we would meet.

Joy was written all over the faces of most of these boarding students. 

In some cases there was an incredible resemblance between mothers and daughters- often referred to as having photocopy children
here in Bhutan.

I even discovered 2 girls in my class share the same grandfather who was as proud as can be of both of them and one of the few who signed rather than putting his thumbprint on my form.

Before we had even begun taking photos the school was transformed into a picnic ground and ringing with laughter. It had a fair ground atmosphere.

I think this just might be the one day of the year when the day scholars wish that they too were boarders, and not wandering home along the dusty road. Even though this photo makes Samtengang look like a thriving metropolis in, actual fact all the building visible in this shot are on the primary school campus.

Although I was repeatedly invited to share lunch with students and their families I decided to head home, knowing I had to be back in a couple of hours for the evening entertainment.

Most of the performances were dances and predominately presented by girls.

There was just too much excitement for some, but I was thrilled to see one of the hardest working and most reliable students in VIIIC so obviously happy on stage.

The scout troupe managed to present the only spoken word piece of the evening and the comedy was so slapstick that even the non-English speaking parents fully appreciated the humor.

Clapping in time and singing along encouraged others to dance with confidence and grace,

and all those who chose to showcase their talents were warmly received.

The few boys who did participate had their own original and modernistic interpretations of Dzongkha remix pieces.

Now at 10.30pm I am ready for bed and amazed that so much can happen in a single day, even if it was a Saturday and it did mean that the real start of our club activity had to be postponed yet again.

Now all we need is a bit of luck and a fair wind with the Internet connection in Bajo tomorrow.


  1. What a great day! Loved the parent/child photos - and the fairground comment of the school ground, how school should be - ringing with laughter! Sounds like a lovely day and capped off with internet access! Woo hoo! Will send email today. Much love xxx

    1. it was the best day thus far in Samtengang Looking forward to your news Lis