Monday, January 28, 2013

Dzongkha Teachers and Computers

You have no idea what it means to dare teaching twenty Dzongkha teachers how to use computer but I am not new to this challenge. This batch of language teachers we have in Punakha Center mostly began their career before many parents fell in love and some talks about my grandfather being their contemporary. Now imagine how I would look standing there doing this job of teaching them.
We were never trained to handle this nor the course was designed to suit them. The computers are just the ones we are using-everything on the machine is in English and even the text book and the presentation slides are in English. The problem is not with them, they are highly educated and very confident and ready to learn. The issue is with the computer- they'd heard a lot about this super machine but they are upset that the machine is just another stupid box that won't understand Dzongkha. I assured them that computer can be programmed to display everything in Dzongkha but the problem is I was not trained enough to do so much and rest didn't have the passion. (Point to be noted, My lord lol)
The best adjustment we can do for them was to install Dzongkha Unicode on their computers so that they could at least used computer to type text in Dzongkha. It's a simple two part process; first install Dzongkha Keyboard and then install Dzongkha Fonts followed by a few steps to Add Dzongkha Keyboard on Language Bar but to do it on so many computer took me and my partner Tshewang Rinzin one precious hour.
That's the beginning of another problem; there are a few teachers who never went to Dzongkha Unicode training and therefore they need another course to understand what we just did. Without Dzongkha characters printed on the keyboard it takes ages to get a word on the screen. (Point to be noted, My lord lol)
By afternoon we made some progress with some people and rest are waiting for me to bring them the printed copy of Dzongkha Keyboard tomorrow. But like all the batches we met we had fun being mischievous and with Dzongkha teacher like them I never forget to share my dirty jokes and make them cough their doma out. During the breaks I listen to their wisdom and bother them with my endless questions on history. I am looking forward to eight more days with them!

Note: This is not intended to class whole species of Dzongkha Teachers in Bhutan as alien to English language or computers, I am just talking about this group of senior teachers who didn't go to English medium school and therefore resulting in the gap. Dzongkha Teachers now are highly versatile, they have mastery over Dzongkha and does equally well in English- and to surprise the hell out of all my vice principal,Lop Melam, who is also a Dzongkha Teacher is an expert in both computer hardware and software including Mac stuffs.

Wednesday, January 23, 2013

Empowering Teachers

I haven't been on winter vacation for three years, and even forgot how it feels like to go on short summer breaks. I am paid and used for empowering teachers in our country and like me there are forty others spread across the country to leave no teacher behind on this aggressive computer literacy project. We don't have Sundays in our weeks nor do we have any national holidays once we begin but after every ten days our trainees change. I had the privilege of training over 200 teachers in four Dzongkhags giving me 200 reasons more to smile in life. 
If you are a teacher in Bhutan you already know what this project is all about and how important it is for your career regardless of your participation yet but not many of us realized that the program is much more than just a compulsory certifying course. Most are coming because they learnt that the certificate from this training is going to be a mandatory document while applying for promotion or scholarship. I have seen many teachers walking into my class with what-the-heck look on the first morning and on the last day the same people shake my hand so hard with gratitude and I could assume what's on their mind: I didn't know this was going to be such a life changing ten days.
Batch-2, Motithang Lab, 2013 Jan
I will sum up the curriculum of the ten days and let you decide if I made sense in saying it's a life changing ten days for teachers: 

  • Teachers learn to draw diagrams in Microsoft Paint, and this also help beginners gain Mouse balance.
  • They learn to setup question paper in Microsoft Word- Multiple choice, Filling Blanks, Matching, Labeling diagram and True or False. They also learn to plan their lesson in Word.
  • They learn how to prepare lessons using PowerPoint Presentation. Animation amazes lot of them.
  • They learn how to store student's marks in Microsoft Excel and prepare mark sheet there. All necessary formulas and functions are taught and practiced until perfected. Many teachers cannot believe that it could be so easy, quick and accurate. 
  • Then we take them on ride on internet. Google for anything and everything they ever want and mostly for downloading diagrams and pictures they would require for their presentation, question papers or regular lessons. Wikipedia for information resources. YouTube for video resources. Email for communication- everybody leaves the training with email address. And for advance users we teach them blogging, in short- they are shown the power of Web 2.0 tools. This make it very hard for us to drive them home after 5.
  • What more a teacher wants? In these ten days teachers are given enough time to practice daily and two days are dedicated for their assignments alone. 
Ladies of Khuruthang with my Partner Mr. Parsu Ram
By the end of the program nobody talks about the certificate they came for because they have too many new things in their head to wonder about. And for me repeating things over and over ceased to be boring, in fact I enjoy amazing people, I love the screams of excitement when teachers accomplish something. I have made wonderful friends and learnt values beyond holidays- I am living a meaningful life without Sunday, I am on a mission to empower teachers!  

Sunday, January 20, 2013

Rice Vote From People of Haa

I learned from Channel NewsAsia that there are 190,000 varieties of rice in the world. That moment of enlightenment made me wonder why there is no rice growing in Haa. I am selfishly crying about Haa because there lies my root and there still is my home, however this subject applies to all the places like Haa and colder than Haa.
The 190,000 varieties of rice are not just any rice collected from different countries or based on their size and color, they are of different natures. There are rice that will grow in flooded land, and there are ones that will grow in dry land.There are also ones that will survive in drought, and strangely some can grow in salt water.
There are even ones that will withstand extreme heat, not to mention extreme cold. And how come we always thought Haa is too cold for growing rice?
A legend has it that once upon a time the protective deity of Haa, Ap Chundu and the deity of Paro went to mountains to bring home magical water that will help in growing rice. But on their way back the deity of Paro played a trick and made Ap Chundu drink till he went to deep slumber. When Ap Chundu woke up finally, the water they brought together was all gone to Paro. That's why rice grow in Paro despite being as cold as Haa. Furious Ap Chundu threatened to destroy everything and dry the river up, to which the deity of Paro promised to feed people of Haa with the first harvest from Paro. The tradition of offering the first rice harvest to temples and relatives in Haa is still practiced.
Now, that was indefinite years ago and people in Paro have found hundreds of ways to deal with their harvest and Haa can no longer depend on the paddies in Paro. We need to grow our own rice. It's time to rewrite the legend differently. That's why I am looking forward to 2013 election.
In last five years, nothing happened in my side of Haa, perhaps there was nothing there to do. We had roads, bridges, electricity, hospital, school, and water for a long time. I wonder what promises our MP made then. The only business that fed Haap was the trade across the mountain and that still remains illegal and our fields could only grow wheat, which is just enough to generate flour for performing lochoe.
In 2013 I want my MP to promise 'Rice in Haa' and ask for 'Rice Vote', and fulfill the promised in his five years term and become a legend- The man who brought rice to Haa. But if our MP fails to think beyond farm road and bridges then our people must remind our MP to think out of the box and say we will only vote for rice. I am going to do just that!
Perhaps with rice our field may turn greener again and our empty villages may see folks returning home...



Wednesday, January 09, 2013

Tragedy of Haa Bus

When I heard about the passenger bus fire incident of Jan 6 I knew it could only be Haa Bus. But I felt good about it. It's not a tragedy, it's the wake up call. The real tragedy is the type of buses that run on Haa road. For years the dumbest buses rode our road. May be it's time now to give people of Haa some comfortable transportation like the other Dzongkhags.
Haa Bus- Obviously  (picture from Kuensel) 
As a child I used to think Haa is the farthest place from Thimphu, because we get in the bus in the morning and reach Haa at night. We would fall sick for day after the journey. Only recently I realized that the journey is only of four hours at the most. But the type of Buses that run on our road are the ugliest and the slowest, they break down often. I used to wish for a coaster bus to Haa but it never happened.
It is rumored that people of Haa are very rough to deserve Coaster buses, our people litter the bus with doma, and tear the seat covers-I hope they are joking, and they even say we carry lots of luggage which is not suitable for coaster buses. I hope these funny logic is not the real reason behind why all clumsy buses are sent to Haa.
Everything has time and limit, but go to Lungtenzampa and see, Haa bus is easily recognizable because like the rest of the culture it is also preserved for ages. I hope people responsible recognize the need to change the buses to Haa.

Monday, January 07, 2013

Miza Tales- Children's Book Publisher

When seven bloggers met last week we didn't need to introduce ourselves much because we always read about each other, we just went on talking about this and that through out the evening. But there was one thing that stood out and also gave birth to new dreams- it's was Chador Wangmo's children books, illustrated by Kinzang Tshering, about which I wrote in "Do You Remember Those Stories?
The writer, the illustrator, and the editor were all there among the group and it was pleasure letting them sign on our copies but something about the publisher bothered us all. The books carried the 'DSB Publication' logo while everybody there knows that the books were self published, and this happened because any publication needs a licensed publisher's name. DSB was kind enough to borrow their name.
This issue ignited the idea of creating our own licensed publishing brand, and we called it "Miza Tales". Miza means the bonfire made in tins, and Chador tells us how she used to listen to folk tales sitting around the miza. Every Bhutanese born and brought up in country side could connect to similar memories from their childhood but we all know how the culture has disappeared after TV came about. With Miza Tales we dream to record all those Bhutanese folk tales we heard or read and present to our children with beautiful illustrations. 
Once we register Miza Tales, Chador Wangmo can write her fifth book under Miza Brand, and like her any Bhutanese writer and illustrator wishing to write books for children with illustration can publish under Miza Tales. We dream to create an ocean of illustrated Bhutanese Children's Books like the Lady Bird Books. Remember reading Lady Bird Book in Primary School? Lets create fond memories for our children too with our own folk tales.
Lady Bird Books

Sunday, January 06, 2013

We Met for the First Time, Yes First time

It was all together a different feeling meeting people with whom I had bonded so well online over the years. It was on 3rd Jan we decided to meet at Karma's Coffee and there we were meeting for the first time in person- at least I was seeing five out of the six of them for the first time.

  1. Kinzang Tshering of QINZA's STORIES, blogger and illustrator. He did the illustration on all four books Chador Wangmo wrote.
  2. Ugyen Gyeltshen of Porky Pie, Blogger, Author of Dear Sadey, and of course a.k.a Tukuli on WAB and Nopkin (There is more than one of him on our writing sites) 
  3. Chador Wangmo of feelings n emotions, blogger, Author of four Children Books I wrote about last time, and a.k.a Pandora on WAB and Nopkin
  4. Nawang Phuntsho of Penstar, blogger, columnist, author of Then I Saw Her Face. He is Penstar on Nopkin and also Founder of WAB
  5. Sangay Dema of MY PAGE, blogger and a.k.a Bella on WAB and Nopkin
  6. Riku Dhan Subba of Riku Dhan Subba's Blog, blogger, Photographer and the most eligible bachelor on the Bhutanese blogoshpere. 
  7. And I of this blog you are reading!

Riku, Tukuli, Bella, Pandora, PaSsu, Qinza and Penstar behind the camera!

But it felt like we knew each other for years, like we have played together as children and went to same school. When Riku and Qinza said they may not come I was upset and ready to strangle them -like a dear friend would feel.
It felt so good when all seven of us could finally sit on the same table. Of course there are many bloggers we loved to have that evening but we could only reach to so many over the phone. I think we should meet again and broaden our reach, because we sync so well, we are on the same boat. That was my happiest night in Thimphu. I would love to meet more bloggers in coming days.
Though Karma's Coffee suggests us to "Talk Life over Coffee" we talked literature. And I will post about what we discussed, yes very soon. After coffee I discovered Tukuli need a drink, so did I but rest were good guys, you know, so Riku left because he was alone at home, Penstar had to drop Pandora, who wasn't in good shape!! Qinza and Sangay Dee didn't have any excuse so they joined the two of us to The Banana and watched us drink like fish. Oh, it felt so good, I even forgot to have my dinner.

Tuesday, January 01, 2013

Dream 2013

On this first day of the new year I am getting a funny feeling of teasing everybody who ever believed in the end of the world last year. I was one person who had to fight back hundreds of scared faces each day of 2012, and I had to tell them "I will take the risk". Deep down I was laughing, if world does end then I won't be there at all and if it didn't I could walk with my heads held high.
Fear is good for living meaningfully, and looking back at the last year I am happy how it help us think of the end. Any thing that is limited is of great charm, and life is a limited edition gift, ours didn't end in 2012 but it will someday. Therefore live it big.
Wish you Luck.  Source: robbwolf.com
2013 is extraordinarily beautiful because we all came back from the end of the world, therefore it's the beginning of the new world. I have lived my life well last year and I want to believe December 2013 is the end of the world again and make best out of each day of this new year. My Dream2013 is to relive 2012, because I am a teacher things repeat, but with greater respect to life, lesser complains, and become more charitable with my knowledge, skills and ideas.
Thank you all for reading this blog and adding greater purpose to my life, I am proud to tell you that because of you I have could write 374 post on this blog with 118 in 2012 alone. With your well-wishes I have gathered 375 followers and over 400 thousand views- what more can I as for as a blogger?- Thank you.
What is your Dream 2013? Happy New Year!

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