When BCF asked me to share an anecdote about my time in Bhutan I drew a blank. How could I sum up of an experience like this one? At first I wanted to share about my students but it was impossible to abstract one or two moments in the daily magic of teaching here. After a time my mind drifted back to a perfect spring day. My friend Becky and I had been on a tour of the east and decided to ride out to Khaling. I had it in my mind to visit the school for the blind there. I was born with a rare eye condition called Congenital Nastagmus which severely affects my vision. I yearned to meet with kids less fortunate then myself. We marveled at the undulating landscape and lush mountain passes on the way to our destination. Upon arrival I felt nervous ambushing these “disabled” children. But mostly I was excited to be fulfilling my ambition of visiting the school. I happened upon the students as they were eating lunch in the dining hall. At one table were students with low vision like me and at another table were kids who were completely blind. Some of the low vision kids were albino which is associated with Congenital Nastagmus and other chronic eye conditions. Immediately I struck up a conversation with Dorji a blind boy in a purple plaid gho who also happened to be a famous Bhutanese singer. Dorji adeptly led me around the nooks and crannies of campus swiftly using his cane for navigation. At one point he collided with another boy giving us all a good laugh. I spent several hours talking to the boys in their neatly arranged hostel. I also met the girls in the courtyard where one blind girl demonstrated Bhutanese brail by poking holes through carbon paper with an ear syringe device. I went on to visit the classrooms where I met a mentally challenged boy who had no eyes who groped my thumb with his little fingers. What struck me about these students was how they supported and assisted each other and enjoyed themselves like any kids would. Unfortunately we had to depart before the blind ball game scheduled for that afternoon. I left feeling inspired to be the best teacher I can be.
|Students of the blind school|