As all good professional development should be, this place-based education workshop is structured around daily goals, objectives and themes as well as meals and snacks. Each day we take a morning tea at about 10:30 am, lunch at 1 pm, and an afternoon tea at 3 pm. The tea is black tea with milk and sugar served with a light snack – crackers or momos (dumplings) or a locally grown orange (Damphu is known in Bhutan for having delicious oranges). Lunch always includes rice plus the Bhutanese national dish – ema datsi (sometimes kewa datsi or mushroom datsi), dhal (a lentil soup), a vegetable dish, some fresh vegetables and a meat dish.
All teachers and staff (including Kate & I) wear the national dress of Bhutan each day. Men where ghos – knee length robes belted at the waist with knee high socks, and women wear kiras – long shirts carefully wrapped with a colorful tego jacket on top. Despite requests to wear comfortable outdoor shoes, many of the female teachers in the workshop wear high-heeled shoes and are very skillful at negotiating our outdoor activities in them. One teacher – Kesang – wore 3 inch heeled boots while wielding a pickax doing a service project in the garden.
After the workshop concludes at 4 pm each day, we usually meet with our team of hosts of the Ministry of Education – Division of Curriculum Research and Development – and Royal University of Bhutan. Bhoj Raj is the Primary Curriculum Chief, Wangchuk is the Health and Physical Education Curriculum Officer, Dorji Wangchuk is the Social Studies Curriculum Officer, and Dr. Nandu Giri is the Dean of Student Affairs from the Samste College of Education. The afternoon meetings often extend into the evening and include dinner with topics ranging from writing the daily report to developing the future of our partnership. The meetings always include tea and occasionally include a walk around Damphu or the school campus.