Thursday, March 18, 2010

From Man to Dog

Every morning Jon and I walk down our holler, and at the end of it we come into sightline with the the giant statue of Lord Buddha across the river above Pelkhil. Whether or not we can see him is treated as a sign of how the day will progress. The first day, for instance, old Siddhartha was completely covered in clouds and there was chaos everywhere. Today, Lord Buddha was surrounded by clouds all around in an aureolar cloud. You can take this as you may, the day progressed nonetheless.

Teaching is nothing really to speak of - all of Jon and my talk about teaching and the day basically amounts to gossip about the children: who is hard to handle, who says ridiculous things, what to expect in one lesson or another. Let's sum it all up and say that keeping control of 30+ 11th graders is really really difficult but I do it pretty well. They've been doing a lot of pushing, but it's only really to be expected. As Jon and I are the only ones it seems are assigning homework, I think we're gaining a reputation as hardasses, or at least we hope we are. God help us if the students find out our ages.

So while Monday was chaos (the schedule the first day consisted of an assembly and...three hours of picking up textbooks., which we don't have any of anyway.) and ended up with teachers mostly giving up and letting the children roam the grounds, it was a benign and aimless chaos. Today we had our first "cultural" period after regular teaching hours, which consisted of all the students being given crayons, colored pencils or watercolors and being told to make art. This kept the children occupied for a bit, even if by the 11th grade this wasn't really their cup of tea. But once some of them had completed the barest semblance of a painting, it was on. There were multiple ruses to get class dismissed or effectively dismissed, including wandering around the classroom, claiming to need to go to the bathroom to wash one's hands and disappearing into the (very, very visible) inner courtyard of the school to play soccer instead, demanding that class be dismissed, and of course, pointing out that several of their friends were wandering the hallways already. At the last point I relented, mostly because at this point I had had taught 5 periods, skipped morning tea, nearly worked through lunch helping with math homework, missed out on afternoon tea, and tried to control the fiddling urges of 30 kids who had been explicitly told to express themselves for an hour.

Amongst the art there was very little variety. Most of the kids drew landscapes, with a strong second choice being copying the tigers of the front of their notebooks, since our school mascot is a tiger. Of interest in my class were only one girl who was drawing what appeared to be a pretty sweet mandala and one boy (who had bonded with me over being Christian) drawing a picture of what I think was Jesus along with the words, "God said I am the truth and the light." A bit of a misquote, but he seems sincere.

There's also something rather special that happened during the art contest, which I'll reveal tomorrow. Not to be a cocktease or anything but, uh, this surprise can't be fully appreciated without a visual element, and I lack that at the moment.

Anyway, I felt that I shouldn't be denied the opportunity for creative expression, and while the children were laboring away, I took to the chalkboard and made a picture of my own. It got graffitied at some point when the general population of Pelkhil was let out, but it survived in pretty good shape:

I was pretty proud of it. You can't see the whole thing, but the man's face you see was sitting on top of a starved body, and was speaking the images shown, illustrated by wavy lines encompassing everything emanating from his mouth. The woman at the far right emerging from the rabbit hole covering her ears was to be the hidden point of interest.

So, from top to bottom, the following pictures are (1) the Simtokha Dzong 2 minutes' walk away from where Jon and I live in Simtokha (2) the mysterious, door-less sentry post/store house also near where Jon and I live (3) part of the national stadium (4) the cutest dog in the world.

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