As I boarded my plane for year (2) I knew that I was coming home. I had been to Koh Tao with all my fellow BCFers from year 1 and now myself and three others were returning for year number 2 throughout Bhutan. This year I had thought to myself," Things will be different", "No more exploring" and this is your home now--you know the places, the people, what to expect and now I felt like I was a "villager" and no longer a foreigner. The students, my village, school life...everything would be routine this year. Little did I know this would be the one of the most challenging year of my life.
When I say I have a family, I mean last year before I left I shifted my home to one of my favorite t student's homes. Before I left they offered to let me stay in their home for free and keep my things safe while I was out of the country. I call them my Kota ( little brother), Ama( mother), Apa (father), and Abi ( grandmother). They are reason #2 of why I renewed my contract for a second year. First, being teaching the students of course. However, they had been calling me and awaiting my arrival. I knew I had to get home as soon as possible, I had even brought them gifts from America that I was excited to give them. All of my other colleagues had opted to stay in Trashigang which is the "city" outside my village that is 22 KMs away while I arranged a taxi immediately home to see my family.
|"Madam Ash is missing Bhutan" wrote in Koh Tao|
Arriving in BKK, I was on cloud nine... I knew the airport and things seemed to be routine. However, little did I know at the time that my luggage would be lost with over $200 worth of school supplies and everything I "needed" to start off my second year in Bhutan. I had an 11 hour layover which I spent panicking until I saw a
familiar sight in the middle of BKK-- A KIRA. I don't know why this calmed me at the time but it did, "Kuzuzangpola," I said as I approached a woman named Deki. She looked at me surprised and and returned the greeting. She spoke great English and it turned out that her husband had just graduated and they were returning to Bhutan after 2 years and they too had lost luggage! However, they were calm and collected and reassured me that things would work out (that's just the way things did in Bhutan) and they did.
|BCF 2012 enjoying in Koh Tao for winter break|
I arrived in Bhutan on February 9th and my luggage arrived on the 10th. I was greeted by familiar faces (2 Bhutanese friends) that I had kept in touch with picked me up and took me to my hotel in Thimphu. The following day they took me to Paro (an hour drive) to get my luggage that arrived safely in Bhutan (things just work out that way in Bhutan). The following days were spent shopping which included: a wash machine, food, and essentials for Eastern living in the more remote areas of Bhutan. My essentials--Olive oil, candles, Barbecue sauce, Tea tree oils, a new Kira, and much more.
As I rode on the bus with my fellow BCFers "2013 batch" I couldn't help but notice they all had made a connection and I was the lone returning volunteer. Of course, they were all very welcoming,but I realized I missed that feeling of my first year with the people I had came here with in 2012. On the other hand, I began to think I am not alone. I, unlike the others ...have a Bhutanese family waiting for me in Kanglung.
|With my Bhutanese in Kanglung, Bhutan|
I arrived at 9:45 PM that night and it felt like I hadn't even left. I quickly unpacked their gifts which included clothes, baseball gloves, purses, games, kites, tools, and many other miscellaneous things. I was exhausted and before the night ended around midnight...I know I fell asleep with a smile on my face...I was home (my home away from home).
The next few days were spent with my students and making sure they hadn't lost their English conversational skills. Flying kites, lunches, dinners, shopping and laughing with them. I had an amazing time and before I knew it school was about to begin.
|Spending time with one of my class 5 students and their family|
The first few days were chaotic to say the least. The things I thought would change were the same at school; missing materials, crowded classrooms etc. I remember my Facebook update on the first day of school,"First week of school = Chaos, stress, missing materials, missing books, but on the contrary I met my 135 students for the year and was welcomed with belated birthday gifts, poems that stress their love for me as a teacher, spoke Sharchopkha in public at the parent meeting and received an applause (thank you Madam Tashi), met and enjoyed with my students and their families and realized AGAIN why I LOVE living in Bhutan. It is a trial everyday, but the challenges, teaching, and life here make me appreciate the fact that I wake up everyday in the misty mountains and live each day like it's my last."
|One of my class 7 students and their family|
It is a struggle --lack of hot water, moldy clothes and food, communication barriers, and lack of significance put on education itself are all things that sometime make me want to scream. However, I couldn't be more happier that I am spending another year in this country. The people, the rice fields, the homes, the generosity, the happiness, the simplicity, the food ( which I can't go a day without Ema Datsi) , the clothes, the many amazing views and the reality of taking your life "slowly" are all things that I keep in mind on a daily basis. There is no worry about time here, just living is all it is, and I can appreciate that.
|My love for my wash machine because I now have Sundays free!!|
|First day of school outside my home in Kanglung|
|My amazing view each morning...it doesn't get better than this!|