Wednesday, May 02, 2007

Teacher's Day

Bhutan celebrated today Teacher's Day and the birthday of the third King. As a consequence, we got a day off. In the morning, there was a celebration with a few speeches. The student that was organizing this celebration asked me on Tuesday whether I'd like to say something. I said 'Well, we'll see' - meaning that I probably won't be saying anything. This morning, he came up to me and told me that I was on the list of speakers... I had to improvise a little bit and delivered a short speech. It worked out ok :-).

In the evening, there was another celebration going on. Students performed dances, teacher's were honored, and lecturers were singing. A few of the students threatened me to ask me to sing a song. As a precautionary measure, I practiced one song - Ewigi Liebi by a Swiss group call Mash. At least if they'd asked me to perform a song, I wouldn't look like a complete fool up there on stage. After about 90 minutes of the show, the power went off. 500 people in an auditorium without light and fans. Tashi Wangchuck (the same guy as I have written about before - he is organizing all the events - not sure when he is sleeping!) was a little bit lost on stage and tried to keep the people entertained. I decided to jump in, went up to stage, and started singing that song. Hey - it was fun; it probably helped that it was pretty dark :-). After I was done with my song, other lecturers jumped in and we managed to get through the blackout with entertainment.

At the end of the show, the lecturers were asked to come up to the stage and to perform a traditional Bhutanese dance. Well, I had as well to go up to the stage and made a complete fool out of myself. The steps are not that difficult but as you might know, I'm not a gifted dancer. I tried to do my best although it was hard. Just keep on smiling and the students will smile back to you!

Staying in a place such as Samtse and closely interacting with the local people requires you to sometimes make a fool out of yourself. All the things that they have learned as small kids, you are learning in public. But in the end it is the only way to learn. It took me a long, long time to wear a Gho properly but by now, I feel pretty comfortable in that piece of cloth. It is not always easy to make a fool out of yourself and to learn in public. Sometimes, you get tired and would prefer to be a normal person. But being a normal person would mean not to learn about their culture and that would be a shame. All in all, it is a good lesson that will help me in the time to come.

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