Showing posts with label Dear Students. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Dear Students. Show all posts

29 October 2013

Easy Education is Blessing

When I was growing up in village I was a hungry boy. My mother would say if I didn't return home by dusk I would sleep hungry and it happened several times. When I return home very late they would have finished their dinner. I would silently sneak into kitchen only to find the pots empty. I would cry until I fall asleep. Same punishment happened when I didn't do my share of household chores. And this desperation for food forced me to listen to my mother. I literally had to earn my food. Food was honoured as prize for being good. This is the story of hundreds of village children once upon our time.

Later when I grew up and saw life beyond my village I was up against hundreds of surprises and one that I couldn't digest was the way my urban cousins took food for granted. Their parents have to run after them to feed them, with promises to take them to town if they could empty their plate. If kids don’t eat parents get worried and fake many stories such as, if you eat you will grow strong like hulk, you can jump like Spiderman, and your hair will grow long and shiny like Barbie’s…

I just look at them and wish I was so lucky. But over time my crisis with food ended. I reached high school where we were given to serve our own meal and as much as we wanted. Gradually I began skipping breakfast and at times lunch. Then I realized why my urban cousins weren't desperate about their food. When something is given lavishly and for free we tend to take for granted. We forget to appreciate it.

Is this happening to education in Bhutan? Getting education in Bhutan is easy and free and every child’s right but unfortunately the easy education seems to be taken for granted. There is no desperation for education because desperation comes with deprivation. When I look at my students I could see the lightness with which they take school. They come to school, sit there and leave. Given the chance they would want every day to be sunday and go on picnic. They wouldn't realize the value of their right until it’s deprived. Should we be deprived of free education to appreciate its value?
"We realize the importance of light when we see darkness. We realize the importance of our voice when we are silenced. In the same way when we were in Swat, we realized the importance of pens and books when we saw the guns.” -Malala Yousafzai
I want to print the following picture of Malala and hang on the school wall so that someday our children will understand how blessed they are and most importantly learn to appreciate their blessing.
Image from buzzfeed

11 October 2013

Malala is 16 and Special, so are you

Malala Yousafzai is a girl born among guns and bombs, grew up with fear and finally became enemy to world's worst terrorist group: Taliban. She was 14 when she began her war for education for girls in Pakistan, took several bullets in her head yet she fights for education.
16-Year-Old Malala Yousafzai Leaves Jon Stewart Speechless
Our children are born in peace, brought up in peace, education is given as right and yet some do not understand the true worth of school. Teachers give endless speeches, parents give all they have and our country is trying desperately and children blame the world for their problems, which they sort themselves.

What's going through Malala's head and what is going through our children's head? Malala is just 16, in case you think you are too young to think about yourself. You may think Malala is special, god's special child, so you are. You must stop blaming everything and anything, leave behind lame excuses and make yourself useful.

Watch Malala speak in this video and reflect on your age and on your attitude to life and education.

02 July 2012

Dear Students, The World of Your Own

The world will not end this year I will take the risk if it does, but I can't take the risk if you choose to end your world. You own a world of your own and you are the center of that world. You can destroy that world as easily as you could make it a wonderful place to live in. There are always choices ahead of you, distinctly black and distinctly white, easily separable. There are people like you and me who go strong and make white choices, and there are people like you and me whom the black choices choose because they are not strong enough to love themselves.
Every time you go on vacation I get a bad feeling that you might land up on the dark side of life, from where you might drown further away from life everytime you want to return, therefore I write this to you to tell you three simple things as you leave for summer vacation of 2012.

1. Bad opportunities, like weeds in our garden, are generously available in the human garden. But don't be generous with them, be kind enough to spare yourself a few moment to think of all the people that mean to you so much, and think about what would happen to them if you go those wrong ways.

2. You will be caught. Bad things never go unpunished. Every time you are tempted to do something wrong just know that you can't run from it. If love can't stop let fear hold you back.

3. Take care of your own little world, the big world will take care of itself.
Have a happy summer vacation. Make people around you happy. And when we reunite let's share our happy stories.

- Posted using BlogPress


19 June 2012

Tear Drops on my Chair

I have known this high school principal for sometime and have gathered a lot of regards for the man he is, the Education officers he was, and the principal he has been so far. He is known for reforming and reconstructing system into very friendly environment that every time he leaves a place people feel the emptiness he has left behind.
This time I came into close contact with him, over and over, and he spared me enough of his time to talk about his school and listen about my school, yes we were talking about students' problems and relative solutions, without ignoring the origin of the problems. It's interesting but disheartening to know that we actually have ideas about where the problems come from and how we could prevent them but there are major stakeholders who wouldn't do enough.
His few sentences touched me so much and made me think over it for days; he said, "I think I should quit this job before I make myself a merciless devil, who sits on this chair and watch parents cry for the mistakes their children committed. How many parents cried here in front of me! Those parents leave behind all the self respect for their children and beg of me to give them another chance.
"Our intention of helping the child together fails to convince the parents, they don't want to take their children home for some days and talk things out- they are backing off from the little help we are asking in helping their children. And finally when we leave them with no option they leave with bitter hearts.
"In a small society like ours I am already hurting too many people, who wouldn't understand, there are too many tear drops on my chair..."

Though enclosed within quotation marks, the words are not exact to the scale but I made sure the meaning and the intention is preserved.

- Posted using BlogPress from my iPad

05 June 2012

Tattoo: The Permanent Character Certificate of Temporary Mischief

Written for Student Digest April-July 2012 Issue.

Tattoo is a design on the skin, achieved by changing pigments of skin. The process is done by repeatedly pricking ink into the skin using sharp needle.  And because it is done inside the dermis layer of the skin it can’t be erased unless done surgically. The technology of removing tattoo hasn’t yet been introduced in Bhutan and therefore to have a tattoo removed could cost fortunes.
Why am I talking about removing tattoo, when everybody does it for keeping? Well I have learnt from experience that at one point in life you would die to get them removed. You would look at it each day and wish if you had never done it. I know you won’t believe me today, because I didn’t believe them then.
I was just like anyone of you, if not naughtier. I was full of energy, energy waiting to explode and there were always choices ahead of me. I made many wrong ones amidst my youthful excitements. And you could land up doing your share of wrongs too, which as you grow up and as you realize, time will forget and forgive. But there are certain wrongs that would last beyond our realization, beyond our righteousness and beyond our repentance.
One such wrong is getting into drugs. It’s addictive and destructive. It gives you an illusion of happiness and stops you from growing. It clouds your judgment and forces you to multiply your wrongs beyond your intentions. Every morning you wake to find that one more person has left your life, and yet you keep moving away from your family and friends. If you are lucky to receive a timely help you may be able to jailbreak but I have seen how the ghost of the past visits your happy home in future. Just when you finally overcome the addiction and decide to settle down, have family and play with your kids then you realize you aren’t left with much life. You had already damaged so many vital organs in your body to live a normal life. Then you feel the unforgiving grip of your youthful wrong holding you back.
While drugs problem is talked about enough there is a subject equally important that didn’t receive much attention. The aggressive love for tattoo is another youthful folly, which literally last forever. At one time you don’t find anything wrong with tattoo because you see so many celebrities showing off their designs, you see all your friends having them and because you probably think you will never grow up. But you have to grow up and you have to know that those celebrities have millions of dollars and that your friends are wrong too.
Technologies with which celebrities create their tattoos are medically safe and the tattoo makers are professionals, they know what they are doing. Do we have professionals? What type of tools are we using? Last year a student of mine tried a tattoo on his neck and landed up infecting some nerves inside. He couldn’t move his neck and had hard time talking; it took over a month of treatment to regain his speech. He was lucky that it was just a normal infection and not tetanus. There are other infections associated with careless pricking that could ruin your life.
Surviving the infection is just the first stage; living with tattoo is another challenge. My tattoos didn’t give me infection because I sterilized the needles I used but tattoo itself is an infection, more so when you are someone responsible in society. People associate tattoo with drug addicts and gang members but I am a teacher and I don’t like to be assumed that way. How could I change that way people think?
When you are young you don’t care a thing about the world. Tattooing your body is just another mischief you try among hundred others. To gain little extra attention you tattoo strange designs and shamelessly find it cool. I have seen arms and legs filled with vulgar words, phrases and signs displayed openly in public. But someday you are bound to change, and you can’t read your future. Look at me; I never thought I would hold this respectable position in the society. All my youthful follies are forgotten with time except these tattoos on my arms but I am very grateful to myself for not having filthy and disrespectful symbols and words.
Your future is waiting for you with greater opportunities and you could be someone everybody looks up to. And from where you are then you can’t afford to show your tattoo and escape wrong assumptions. Future can’t lie in the tattooed arms. Even if you choose to lead a quiet life you have to become a parent someday and when your little child points at the sign of middle finger on your arms and ask you questions, how would you explain the vulgarity of your designs? Therefore, if you don’t yet have a tattoo, don’t bother about having one. You don’t have to keep a permanent record of your temporary mischief. 

02 May 2012

The Best Gift We Teachers Expect From Our Students

Today is the Teachers Day in Bhutan, the day for Bhutanese students to thank their teachers. It's also the day our country has set aside to let us know that she has high regards for teachers.
On this day our students across the country struggle to buy gifts for their teachers, some lucky ones have their own struggle of choosing the best gifts, it has almost become a trend to celebrate the day with gifts.
Let me describe the best gift a student could give and make their work easier because I am teacher and I know what every teacher wants.
The best gift is not on sale in the town, therefore you don't have to go looking for it. The best gift for your teacher is within you- on this day let us know that you have a dream, and that you will work hard each day towards that without letting your age come in between. Let us know today that you will be part of every solution, and that you will give us the chance of talking about you with pride now and forever. Show us today that you will be good to yourself and to people around you. Show us that you are growing each day and that you will be independent very soon. Show us that you will become someone who will only ask what you can do for your country and your parents, and when someday we meet again we sit for a drink and you are capable enough to pay up the bill.
This is the simple gift I am describing that only takes a willing heart to achieve, and perhaps you must be wondering how could anyone show so much in one day- it's not something you could do in one day but it could be started. Everyday is a teachers day and everyday you will have to let us know we are making a difference in your life. We will not remember you for size of your gift, we will but remember you for how well you do in your life.

Today, I would like to thank my teachers for making their share of differences in my life and making me proud of myself. Thank you Lopen Dawa (Dawakha Pry School), Karma Wangchuk and Sanjay Kumar (Paro Jr. School), BB Mishra, Boaj Raj, Muktan, Wangchuk Namgay, Surja Lapcha, KC Jose and Lopen Namgay Wangchuk (Drukgyel HSS) for being part of me when I was changing.

27 April 2012

Telling Girls the Truth- Our Principal Speaks

Bajothang finally received a man who could nurse its injuries and help her not only walk but run marathon race. Mr. Shangkar Lal joined us as our new principal last February from Gyalposhing and he has already shown us how he could lead us to a great change. For the first time I going to work under a man who would allow me to be creative, who himself is an artist hungry for creativity.
There are already so many reforms this man has brought to talk about in just three months but for now I would like to pick on the speech he gave to our girls some mornings ago.
He is a powerful speaker and uses his own choice of words, and here I will use my own words to express the same thing he conveyed that morning:
"I come from Gyalposhing, a small town that grew because of the Kurichhu Project and I have seen firsthand the impact of huge population fed by project on to our young school girls. And here am I again, in a place where two big projects are exploding the local population, where you all could fall victims of change. You could be sweettalked by any man with hundred promises but you must remember that you are the greater promise. You should know that you are capable of being more than just a mere woman dependent a man. Look at your vice principal here, tomorrow if madam Deki's husband treats her bad, tortures her and kicks her, she could kick him back and choose her on road in life. Because she has created her own life where she has hundred choices. You have the same right to create your life where you have hundred choices, you must resist any influence from men at this age. I am not saying relationship with men is bad, I am saying the time is bad. There is charm in doing right thing in the right time. If you fail yourself today, you are failing yourself for the life time: the when your husbands kick you, you may have to hold their feet and beg for mercy because you have nowhere to go. Don't let that happen. Give yourselves time to grow, give yourselves time to make good judgement, remain a student when you are one."
 This speech was well timed and well framed to protect our young girls from thousands of men pouring in because of the Puntatshangchu Project. We keep hearing rumors of our girls getting influenced into relationships and I hope this goes on to help them know that they themselves are the greater promises of their lives, the happiness that no man can give them.


16 March 2012

Out of Syllabus

This article appears in the latest publication of Student Digest, and unlike other stories I wrote this exclusively for the magazine.

4th Issue
Would you spend an hour reading a chapter that is out of syllabus? Would you do an assignment your teacher would not mark? The answer is obvious, there is hardly enough time to study what is actually important. What makes something important? The high probability of something coming in exam is considered important. Do you study only for exam? When will you study for your life?
These are some questions I didn’t ask myself when I was in school, but today as I reflect and realize I begin all over again. I make my students question themselves often between their chapters. I make them question every page in their book. While every school has an elaborately decorated vision that encompasses every aspect of life, they lack the freedom in bringing their vision alive. The written syllabus creates a narrow tunnel through the school, from exam to exam.
Exam has become the license to so many offers in life and therefore everything in school should revolve around exam, and there is no way other than the narrow tunnel. One day we reach at the end of the tunnel with good marks in hand and a job ahead of us, but then we realize that everything around us is out of syllabus. Nobody would want to wake up unhappy for the rest of our lives, despite having a passed so many exams and having gotten into a good job.
We must realize early in our lives that life is not bound by syllabus; we must dare to go out of syllabus to pursue real life.  We must go beyond mere collection of information to processing information and invention of ideas, so that we don’t feel stagnant. We must discover our natural talents and polish them because we all come with our own unique gifts. So many strangers gather in one place called school wearing same clothes and there is no better place to build relationships, respect differences, work in teams, and learn leadership, for these are the elements of life that could guarantee us happiness. We should love to learn every new skill that comes our way and try to master some, for we never know what life has in store for us.
Millions die every year yet we don’t even know but when Steve Jobs died world stopped for a moment. What makes him so special? He discovered his natural talents, spiced it up with his ability to lead, supported it by his courage to rise from failure and went on to make an almost perfect technology. iPhone was not in his syllabus, he created it. He literally went out of syllabus by dropping out of school. Walt Disney was another drop out who now lives forever like his characters. If Albert Einstein studies within the syllabus without dropping out at fifteen would we remember him now? Bill Gates is a living example of someone who went so much out of syllabus to create Microsoft and become a billionaire. Who remembers his classmates who were lucky then to be able to complete their college?
When the time is right, don’t sleep in the syllabus. Wake up to life’s calling. For if you land up in a good job you must know how to work happily and if you remain jobless you should know how to create job- these are not in your syllabus.

Get your copy of Student Digest @ Nu.65. If you are in Wangdue and Punakha, just get it from me.

13 July 2011

Dear Students, summer gift to your parents,

I have been thinking of the divine relationship between parents and children for quite sometime, even before I became a father. And it occurred to me that children are innocently selfish. Every child expects the whole world to revolve around him, and parents make sure that it does. Parents place their hearts in every selfish achievement of their children.
I am mentioning this to you at this time of the year to remind you that it about time to give your parents a gift. Not that sort of a gift where you take money from your parents to buy them one, but something that you have achieved on your own- your exam result.
I don’t know if you would rejoice the pride of your father who comes home with the news of him being appreciated by his boss, or joy of your mother who met her childhood friend after fifteen years (because kids only find joy in things that matter to them), but I can assure you that both your parents will be the happiest if you walk home with your mark sheet filled with very good marks. They will pass your mark sheet to each other for countless times as if it’s a million Ngultrum check. They will talk about your result to anybody who visits your home, and then they will tour their friends’ homes to talk more about it.
If you realize it there is nothing in there to talk so much about (you spent last six months in school just for that)- your marks no matter how high won’t help them pay their house rent, not even the water bill. Your marks help no one other than you yet it brings happiness to your parents, which only means how easy it is to please your parents. Just reflect on how much your parents put in to please you each day ever since you were born, and ask yourselves if you were ever perfectly happy. The answer will most probably be No, and this indicates how hard it is to please you, despite all their sweat and blood. And there you are, just having to bring in a good mark sheet and your parents are flattered.
Knowing this is as simple as this; will you still deprive your parents of a gift this summer?

CC: Jigme, with love!

01 May 2011

Dear Students, On Teachers Day

My Dear Students,

Tomorrow morning I will be very happy knowing you all will wish me more than 'good morning'. I am not worried about what you will force me to do, because I have dared to sing on stage last year, the last thing god wanted me to do on earth, but I am worried you might come with gifts you couldn't afford yourself. Gift is not important, it's you and your feeling about us that matters. Make a priceless card with your own hands and present it rather than some glossy card printed by machine with a price tag.

On Teachers Day, I have no confessions to make since I have always been dead honest with you, and I have no apologies to beg since I hurt nobody. In case some of you are upset with me for give you nick names then let me tell you I didn't mind you calling me Mr. Bean. It's just another lesson- keep your sense of humor alive at all times.

On Teachers Day, I want to remind you that I am not a role model you should copy, nor is anybody. You should know you are unique and special, and work toward building yourselves with your beliefs. You must have dreams driving you each day of your life. You must love your parents, respect your teachers, and have good faith in god and know that no matter how tall your grandfather was you got to do your own growing!

I want you to know I am so proud to be your teacher.

13 December 2010

Dear Students- V

Exams are over and papers are in your hand. Some of you have scored high enough to fulfill your purpose of coming to school, doing us proud and bringing joy into to the lives of your parents who want nothing but your prosperity. While there are many of you whose performances insult the teachers, sadden your parents and yet amuse yourselves. If you care you would regret, and if you regret you are on the right path. You should know Rome was not built in a day.

I wish success to all who deserve it. However, your results do not summarize who you really are. At the end of the day you are what you do- what you do when you have everything, what you do when you have nothing to lose, and what you do when no one is watching; your character and your attitude are your wings on the flight of your life.

You don’t prove your courage by not respecting the school rules no matter what time of the year it may be. True courage is in resisting those temptations to cross the lines. We have come to the end of year and you have strived through while some among us had to give up on their ways and go the wrong way dragging our reputation along. Your journey to the end of the year wasn’t by mere chance, you have made choices each day to bring you here and you have to make choices here which will take you forward. But when your choices go wrong we intervene and if you agree perhaps you will see your dreams sooner but if you feel we are failing to bridge the generation gap then I am sorry to inform you that you may have to go to a place where you best fit. We had the worst of years and we have learnt our lessons.

It was an embarrassing year for us having to see the extremes of indiscipline that degraded our school’s reputation, reputation that took years to build. It may take us years again, but together we must rebuild our school into a place where best of students desire to study, a place where people look up in respect and you feel proud to call it yours.

This year is over now and when you come back next year make sure you come with feeling of belongingness to this place. This is your school and you are the owner of this school. Nobody stays here forever, not the teachers, not the principal, not you and not even the caretaker  but that should not stop anyone of us to ignore the fact that glory of Bajo is glory of us all.

Happy Vacation!

18 October 2010

Dear Students- IV : More you study Luckier you get

How was the first paper this morning?
I was on invigilation duty this morning and the three hours of silence really put me to test. Three hundred thoughts ran across my mind and three hundred bones ached in my body- how many bones are there in our body actually? Doesn’t matter, because every bone ached.
Luckily my chair had cushion on it and I had the freedom to move around and out. I was given tea and biscuit. But I was worried about you. If you have undergone the physical training I prescribed earlier, it would have helped. Did it?
Many of you had running nose; not that I saw your nose running over the table but I heard and felt your utter discomfort as you rubbed your nose between the words. It is not because of cold as you might assume, rather because of the unusual physical and mental stress. You can call it exam-flu. If your body is used to such stress on regular basis the problem would disappear itself. This is where your physical preparation comes handy. I bet you won’t have the nose problem by the time you do your last two papers, and that’s because your body gets tuned finally.
One girl grew restless in my hall and I was worried she might be up to something. Halfway through she handed me her finished paper. By rule nobody can leave until the last half an hour of the exam time. She was however desperately in need of toilet. It is a big funny problem. Everybody laughed. Lucky for her that it happened during the trial exam otherwise it could compromise the quality of all her answers. It can happen to anybody and taking care of your body especially during the exam should be considered important. Keep yourself warm, do not eat unusual food, don’t overeat, don’t under-eat even, and do your businesses with toilet before you enter the hall.
I have my best wishes for you and want to wish you all the luck in the world. But as far as I have known exam it always occurred to me that the more I studies luckier I got.  If you didn’t study anything at all even luck will be helpless. Same is the case with visiting lhakhang and offering butter lamp before your exam, no matter how many kgs of dalda you offered finally what matters is how much you studied. You can’t bribe god it write exam for you.
Your trial is a scale that measures your readiness for the final exam and I hope you will put in your best to get the correct reading, which will motivate your additional preparation for the board exam.

06 October 2010

Dear students III

When you feel the cold in morning hours, see the greenery fading away and leafs falling from tree what comes to your mind? Don't be philosophical and tell me it reminds you of impermanence of life. As winter sets in you should be better worrying about examination. It is unfair though that an exam decides your course of life but fairer part is that you have the power to choose how you write your exam. Destiny is not written in one day; it is drafted and edited according to choices you make day after day.

Writing your exam is closest to writing your destiny and therefore there is need for serious considerations. Of
course I see a lot of you getting busier by the day but I am concerned still of some important aspects which we take for granted. As a student myself, I would spend enough time on studying the content and I would gamble with certain chapters' probability of coming in exam having read through many past question papers. By the time I set foot on the threshold of exam hall I would be fully ready. But I never really came out with good score. And you see, it doesn't matter how well you know, at the end of the day what counts is how well you scored.

Now the question is what went wrong in my preparation? After this many years I have found the answer. All the while I forgot to physically prepare myself. I realized that until exam time I have never sat in one fixed place for over an hour, I haven't written more than two pages in one go, and I haven't spend hours thinking hard, not ever until exam. No matter how much you know, as you keep sitting for longer duration than you ever did your body denies you proper functioning, then you start losing focus. Your fingers were never used to writing for three hours and therefore even your fingers ask for excuses. And most importantly, your attention level fades away after sometime and you can hardly recall what you know. This is how you come out of exam hall defeated.

I remember telling you in assembly about this thing right in the beginning of the year, and I am hoping you are
doing your regular physical training for your exam. Weekends are the best times, please give yourself three
hours of non-stop sitting and writing, without toilet, water, music, mobile and friends. If you haven't started
yet, you are not late.

I can't assure you great marks because it will also depend on how much you studies but I can at least guarantee that you can bring out everything that you have inside. I am not sad about things I didn't know but about things I knew, which remained unexpressed.
Best wishes

30 September 2010

Dear Students,

This is my first letter to you and I want you to know I will be writing to you often over the years. I have many things to tell you but we hardly get time to sit down and talk in school, more over I don't meet many of you at all. I love writing letters but I can't remember when I wrote my last letter; after email and mobile came in I found it cheaper to talk and chat then to spend in stamps.
However I have written enough letters in my life that even if I can't write anymore I have the right to forgive myself. I have made friends across the country through letters, I have kept my friendship alive through letters, I kept my parents informed through letters, and most funnily I wrote to many of my fortunate relatives asking for some clothes, a pair of shoe, or a few hundred Ngultrum, guess what! they were the only people who weren't impressed with my letters. At the end of the day when I do maths I would wish if I had kept the money I had instead of wasting them in stamps and envelops. I would write again though, like gambling, to recover my loss only to lose more.
Over eight years passed since I posted my last letter...and today I finally decided I will write letters again, and this time I will write to you, telling stories from my life, my childhood and my high school to let you all know how lucky you all are today.
This letter is just an introduction and therefore I will not talk on anything. I am just happy that I don't have to find an envelop or buy a stamp. I know you may never read this but I am satisfied that I wrote it.