I am once again struggling to believe that the end of the year is nigh and it is time to wish all our family and friends a wonderful holiday and break. 2014 has been a tough year for many of us and now that the worst does indeed seem to be over, even if everything is not yet resolved, we can only hope that 2015 will bring more laughter, more joy and more fulfillment. We value the times we have been able to share in the past and hope that you all continue to keep us up to date with your lives. Perhaps our paths will once again cross in the not too distant future. Wherever the upcoming year takes you may you be blessed with good food, good friends and adventure, achievement and success as well as the ability to recognize the blessings you have been bestowed.
Our time in Samtengang is coming to an end. Exams have been and gone. Papers have been checked and graded by the communal marking system that seems to be officially sanctioned despite its huge drawbacks for both students and teachers. All the students I taught in the middle school have returned to their villages and families and Ian’s little friends make periodic appearances at school for National Day rehearsals and Socially Useful and Productive Work (SUPW) in addition to the younger ones, who live nearby popping in to visit Sir at home. They invariably go away with skipping ropes or paints or something that will keep them amused and no doubt inspire them to return again soon. Mine are more prone to Facebook and SMS messages just to chat once they have ascertained that they passed and will be promoted to the next level next year.
As usual we are wondering why it is that we must remain at school making only brief and often purposeless visits until after National Day on December 17th, more especially as we are now receiving a constant stream of BCF colleagues and their family too in some cases as guests and day visitors. Others seem to have easily escaped their schools and are taking time out to travel and see some of Bhutan as they make their way back to the capital. On December 18th those students, who live near enough, will attend result declaration and I personally will be very glad to see them one last time before we too make a beeline for Thimphu that very afternoon. I guess we could have argued for being allowed to leave but it seems unfair to expect this privilege when it is not possible for national teachers. Although there is little left to do at school, having time to just relax, take slow strolls through the local environs to savour the views and familiar landscapes, cook in a frantic attempt to empty the pantry and just unwind is certainly welcome.
There is no doubt that this has been a difficult year in terms of the relative isolation and poor access of this location and the often-antagonistic management style in my school in particular. It was certainly complicated by Ian’s injury and subsequent frequent visits to Thimphu to receive treatment but I have already blogged about our final reflections on our schools and lives in Wangdue Phodrang District so I will not repeat myself and instead assume anyone who is genuinely interested will have already read the details or still can at http://intheshadowofthemountains.blogspot.com/.
We are ploughing ahead with plans to work in Thimphu in 2015 and though the paperwork has still not materialised, being old hands at the slow pace of Bhutanese bureaucracy, we are assuming it will eventually happen and we must simply remain positive and move forward with our own plans. Ian was approached by Deki School and met the husband and wife founders, builders and directors as well as the principal and staff just after the summer break. It proved to be less of a job interview and more a formal invitation to join the team as he was immediately offered a position and wheels set in motion for acquiring approval and visas. I hesitated to apply anywhere for a long time and toyed with the idea of having a year off on a spouse visa, before finally seeing an advertisement for the Early Learning Centre. The reputation of this establishment is legendary and I had been advised to apply to them by several friends and colleagues as they are expanding to include junior high school and high school grade students next year. It is a completely new, private, purpose-built school as is the one in which Ian will be employed. I was wary about whether they would accept me or not but my fears were quickly allayed after a brief phone conversation with the director, which ended in my paperwork being forward and the approval process launched the following day. Now yet again everything is in the hands of the powers that be and we are playing the waiting game.
Time is ticking on and we are eagerly awaiting the arrival on Saturday of a dear British friend, Katja, who we met in Monduli, Tanzania. She will spend a fortnight travelling with us in the kingdom and we are looking forward to having some time on our hands, the road ahead and the wind at our backs, after the long hours and hard work that has been required to complete this academic session.
Our brief spell in Thimphu is timed to allow us to attend the final wind up session with BCF colleagues and staff and the Ministry of Education, (Perhaps a personal plea to speed up that approval process for our applications and visas for 2015 is in order), make one more trip out to the orthotic manufacturer in Gidakhom, see the American physiotherapist in the capital before his imminent return to Boston, view a possible apartment in which to reside next year and hopefully sign a lease, as well as obtaining the necessary road permit for Katja and us to travel. A busy 3 days there and we will be off on our much anticipated road trip and adventure.
All that remains is to wish you all a safe, healthy and fun-filled silly season and every happiness in the year to come. Tashi Delek!
Peace and love always,
Vicky and Ian xxxxxx