The above was written on an actual sign posted on the side of the road on our drive from Paro to Thimphu- meaning, I am assuming, do not fall off. As expected, driving is a dubious enterprise here; the roads twist and turn, carved into the side of sheer cliffs. This concept- stay on the road, try not to fall off- is an apt metaphor for my time here so far.
|Statue in Bangkok Airport|
|The main leg of my journey|
The trip was just that- a trip. 35 hours of planes, airports, goodbyes, hellos. For the first time I experienced jet lag and the feeling of being surrounded by completely new, well, everything and half the world away from all I’ve ever known and loved. This in conjunction with the insomnia I was having the preceding week just put me over the edge. Breakdown. Had I not been so utterly exhausted, I am sure I would have started in on the long walk home. Sleep finally overtook me and, like a baby in desperate need of a nap, I awoke the next morning more emotionally stable and clear-minded.
|This is where I spent my first night in Bhutan|
It’s not all rainbows and prayer flags, though. The amount of littered garbage is surprising and sad, considering environmental preservation is one of the four tenants of Gross National Happiness. It's honestly pretty filthy, and the sidewalks are turned red by all the betel nut spit. It is hard to see so many mangy, feral dogs; they're everywhere. However, I think you can judge a person or country by the way it treats its animals and these dogs tolerated and ignored, rather than abused, so they are not aggressive and blend into daily life here.
You can't help but to be struck by the energy of this place, no matter what state you are in. Flying in, seeing the Himalayas from above, I experienced, for the first time ever, what it is like to actually, literally have your breath taken away. Realizing that this is the culmination of my life so far hit me hard and I had to choke back tears of sheer awe and gratitude. We flew with His Royal Highness the prince (the king's younger brother) and for the first time in my life, as well, I was truly star-struck. The exquisite beauty here is utterly indescribable, almost painful, reaches into the deepest part of my soul with and reverberates in my every extremity. I look around and feel like I'm opening my eyes for the first time.
|I took this near Buddha Point, Thimphu|
|This doesn't even come close to capturing how many dogs there are|
|such a great cre|
We met with the Minister of Education, Lyonpo Thakur S Powdyel. He was the most inspirational, moving and wise orator I have ever heard speak. (I realize I am writing in many absolutes- “the most this, or that,” but I truly do mean it…) He talked about how education can and should yield itself toward the development of the whole individual, the importance of enrichment and enlightenment of our students as sentient beings.
As educators, we are custodians to the world, and impart to our students not only facts and working skills, but a deeper knowledge and appreciation of humanity, and heightened level of consciousness. He spoke of this in terms of “moral greenery”- priming the mind and spirit of our students for growth and vitality. “The second we teach a child a new word for expression, a new note to play, a new thought to ponder, the world is instantly a different place”…what a concept…
His words resonated to the deepest part of my being and spoke to my inspiration and intuition of what teaching really is. Or should be. Idealistic? Yes. Possible? Also, a big resounding yes! This new educational paradigm is just emerging and is brand new in its development through pedagolocial practices. The concept, however, is universal. The energy generated by this dialogue coursed strongly through myself, added to that of others, and became tangible.
|Sabrina and I taking it all in|
I thank those of you who have made it through to this point and actually read all of this. I will try to be more brief and concise in my following blogs, but as this is as much of a way to chronicle this year for me as it is for all of you, I didn’t want to leave anything out of this first one. I apologize in advance if my communication level takes a severe nose-dive in the near future if I can only blog when I visit friends in more urban places, if that’s even possible with my duties. I miss my family, given and chosen, more than I would have thought possible, but feel so blessed that I have that much love…
Until next time! Shoo lay log jay ge! (see you later)