Tuesday, November 10, 2020

My Message to my Students on Children's Day

When my friends ask me why I decided to be a school teacher? I would often say that because we get July and January off I decided to do this job....

But deep down There is only one reason to come back to school as a teacher.....and thats to let you all create good memories while you are in the school! Why?  I must frankly speak, I didn't have very cherisable school days..and I don't wish the same to unfold upon you all...you know what...the best most of the teachers did back then was to beat you up if you don't know the answers from the book, scolding, pulling ears, lashing with electric wires were some of their weapons of mass destruction...Let me also put this on record that there were few good ones too. Loving, caring and inspiring individuals who reminded me that it was possible to be kind and loving among unkind and unloving....and gave me this strong hope and a reason to aspire to be an individual who motivates, treats you in a way you rightfully deserve and not just instruct and indoctrinate.

When school resumed for 2020, you and me were unknown to each other....which made it even more interesting...thus in my history classes we had decided to know ourselves first....we also wanted to create a small class library..so we  started collecting books....We had just started to write and post articles on our class blogspot.

We were also discussing about a year long personal project where each one of you would be working throughout the year, sharpening your talent, or learning a new skill or doing some community services... these were things you and me would have been engrossed in apart from the knowledge we would have pretended to discover from our textbooks...

It was all going well and good and then this covid 19 happened and our collective dreams and projects all collapsed. 

All this Pendamic wanted was to separate you from me, close the door and windows of our only room where we opened our minds and hearts, where we did study of past events but were eqaully creating 'history for ourselves..'...we were learning and growing together, there was pure joy to treasure one's old friends and also in finding a new one.

All this Pendamic wanted was to not let   me be that 'unreal' teacher for you, a teacher who gives you enough space and time to grow and blossom,  I wanted you to laugh with me and also laugh at my jokes, feel free to share your thoughts, come to me for some free suggestions or advices, I wanted to share with you what I want to achieve in life and what I failed to achieve......I wanted you to listen to all my flaws, failures and my hardships.  In those flaws, failures and hardships, I wanted you to find hope, perseverance and passion to do any tasks entrusted to you to best of your ability, to stand for a cause in life and to lead to create moments and memories.

I also wanted to share with you what little I have achieved thus far in my own life. I would not have been able to provide you anything worthy to take home but I wanted you to take the lessons out of my little success stories so that you learn and  understand that everything takes time and patience to make it happen and to make it possible in life. 

All this Pendamic wanted to do was to take away these moments from us.

All this Pendamic wanted was to Rob Me of the very reason and my purpose  to become a classroom teacher.

All this Pendamic wanted was to teach us a lesson....in that unkind and unloving way...shattering all my purposes, suspending all my dear moments with you all and distancing us for no reasons of our own....

All this Pendamic wanted was to remind us that no matter how long I keep my doors open, it's you who need to walk in. No matter how much and how best I provide you as your Guru, but it's your personal  responsibility to learn and grow, to perfect your craft and mend your imperfections...with this onset of e-learning we all must have realised....that A Guru can at best be there for you but cannot be always be with you...

Happy children's Day my dear young friends....

With much love and virtual bear hugs,

Your supposedly Class Teacher but for this year I shall remain as your virtual class teacher.  See you soon.....Enjoy the day...

Thursday, September 10, 2020

Lighting A Candle Tonight: World Suicide Prevention Day-10th September,2020

According to World Health Organization 8 lakh people die globally due to suicide every year. Which means 1 person every 40 seconds. (Which would also mean when you complete reading this article at least 9 human being would have already committed suicide.) There are more deaths from suicide than from war and homicide together.  Suicide is the second leading cause of death among 15-29 year-olds. Pesticides, hanging and firearms are the most common methods used globally.  75% of suicides occur in low- and middle income countries and almost half of those deaths are between 15-29 years old. 

These statistics is worrisome and suicide is indeed a growing concern around the world. The data recorded at home is also not so pleasing. A record maintained by National Suicide Prevention Program between 2016-2018 states that 272 Bhutanese took their lives in those three years. That amounts to 1 suicide a week.  1 citizen in week taking away their life should be a wake-up call for a nation just over 7.8 lakh people! There are many reasons to consider for suicide and suicide attempts. Our transitioning society (rapid development, rural urban migration, and new set-up in work places) brings in more hardship and difficulty. To adjust to the new environment of workplace, and the lesser time spent with loved ones because one has to earn a livelihood. The accessibility to drugs, and sudden changes in individuals behavior due to bully, harassments, financial difficulties and loss of ones loved ones are many causes for suicide and suicide attempts.  

Through studies conducted by The International Association for Suicide Prevention in 2019 found that For each suicide approximately 135 people suffer intense grief or are otherwise affected. This amounts to 108 million people per year who are profoundly impacted by suicide behavior. For every suicide, 25 people make a suicide attempt and many more have serious thoughts of suicide (IASP, 2019).   If this data is translated into our own scenario- Because of 1 suicide every week (according to 2016-2018 study) 25 of our people will also make an attempt or will have serious thoughts about suicides every week. And along with this, as the report suggests, approximately 135 people would also suffer from intense grief or are otherwise affected (Look at the out-cry of fans of  Sushant Singh Rajput- Being a rising movie star his sudden death and suicide being a prime cause has spilled over grief and frustration across the globe) immensely. Suicide is without a doubt a very sensitive issue. Thus, No wonder why people do not want to discuss or debate openly about suicide. It’s very contagious in nature-affecting the well-being of a person who hears about the incident. But we must stand up and fight this culprit to prevent further loss of life. 

Life is precious and no Country and Leaders than our King and the Royal Government place so much importance in protecting and saving each and every citizens life. The Ministry has adopted No health without mental health approach to make our health and social services more conducive to assist people (with depression and suicidal thoughts) providing counselling and psychiatric services. The RUB colleges also has incorporated counselling as a separate course in its various colleges. There is multiple coalition and collaborative programs initiated by public and non-government bodies to prevent suicides in our country (Check this report here and if the promises have not been materialized we need to notify the concern authority

The The Mind over Matter Bhutan’ and ‘Bhutan Suicide Awareness, Prevent and Watch are Facebook forums (but sadly, both the forums seem not so active) where individuals can share their concerns to understand their own grief so suicidal thoughts never invade ones conscious. If you are not a fan of Facebook, you can tune-in to Radio Valley 99.9 fm for the Mind over Matter Bhutan sessions hosted by our very own Namgey Zam (I think its still in air?) If one fear going online or go on record, one can also pay a visit to numerous care-providing institutions where they will get necessary help. 

The responsibility should not be only imposed on public agencies and NGOs. It should be the sacred duty of every individual. This responsibility is both sacred and noble. Why? If we manage to prevent one suicide we would be preventing 135 fellow Bhutanese from experiencing intense grief and we could be also preventing another 25 of our own people from committing suicide or at least help them refrain from any suicidal thoughts. It takes just ‘one suicide prevention' to break the chain of grief and stress that affects many fellow friends and family members. It just takes you and me to stop stigmatizing suicide and openly discuss regarding it so people who are in need of help and assistance in their life can easily approach for necessary intervention. It has to be you and me to avoid any further loss of life due to suicide. 

Its in you and me to check on the feelings of our friends and family members. If they express hopelessness about their future, tell them you are ever-ready to help in whatever way possible. 

Its in you and me to watch out the actions of our loved ones. If they display overwhelming pain and distress, tell them its transitory- things will be ok and assure them that you are there for him/er always. 

Its in you and me to observe the behavioral change in our friends and family. If they are withdrawing from friends, changes in social activities, show more anger or hostility and display sleep disturbances ask them the reasons and try helping them out. 

Its in you and me to check on the signs of distress displayed through talking, writing (and sharing on social media), or making plans for suicide. Tell them things will be perfectly ok and assure your support and direct them to get help from concern professionals.   

One of the initiatives of IASP to observe this years World Suicide Prevention Day (September 10th 2020) with the theme: Working together to prevent suicide, is urging world citizens to ‘Light A Candle tonight on your window at 8:00PM to show your support to suicide preventions’. 

If not anything, tonight lets cast some light to brighten the darkness unknowingly intruding in the lives of our near and dear ones. Let’s assure them, through the brightness and the warmth of the candle light, that we are all here to help and also to convey this message that ‘killing yourself wont end the problem, it only increases the worry, sadness and problems of people who you leave behind!’ 

Tuesday, September 8, 2020

Food fiesta on Facebook Amidst Lockdown: The reasons and how detrimental it may become in long run.

Everything came to a halt when our country was put under lock-down on 11th August. Though Government ensured delivery of all services needed but there were still things to worry about. The access to essential goods became difficult by the day. 

Yet, surprisingly, nothing deterred many folks on Facebook to experiment new dishes or treat themselves with one’s favorite. A slice of irony on a plate full of National Crisis? May not be.  If food and its implications are to be considered seriously- there are many underlining biological and psychological reasons for our indulgent on eating as well as sharing photos of our meals on social media during this lock-down.

Interestingly, after lockdown relaxation was announced last Monday (31stAugust), not many people on social media shared photos of meals they have cooked for themselves. What could be the reason? The apparent reason could be a sign of relieve on hearing about the relaxation of lock-down. It could be also due to mundane thoughts revolving around getting back to daily routine so costumed to most urbanites which might have diverted their attention and their other-wise food-frenzy mind prior Monday.   

According to science, people hardly eat when they suffer from short-term stress because it shut down our appetite. The anxiety triggers our nervous system to send messages to the adrenal glands to pump out the hormone ‘epinephrine’ which helps activate our body’s fight or flight response, and fast-track our physiological state that temporarily puts eating on hold. This could be one scientific evidence why we also didn’t see many meal photos shared by fellow Bhutanese on social media in the first week of our lockdown. 

The science also says that if stress continues, the adrenal glands release another hormone called ‘cortisol’ and cortisol increases appetite and may also ramp up motivation in general including the urge and the motivation to eat more. Thus, we prepared and did a lot of experiments with food and then we all engaged in so called ‘Emotional eating’ or ‘stress eating’ to make ourselves feel good, comfortable and above all relieve stress by eating more than usual. The lock-down continued so did the stress level, and you guess it right, the change in our appetite also became apparent.  Eating more often and thus sharing photos of meals became quite rampant after the second week of the lock-down.  

It’s not a new trend to post photos of meals on social media. In fact, in western world it has become an obsession. This fancy trend is often referred as ‘Food Porn’ or ‘Gastro Porn’ because of the avalanche of meal photos shared and how additive people have become of watching these meal photos. This addictive behavior leads to ‘visual Hunger’ meaning your urge to eat those meals (beautifully presented and seen frequently on screens of your gadgets) become so strong you bend over backwards to get it prepared and eat the meal irrespective of its implications on your health. 

There is another shocking food–fact. Many food survey done abroad also indicate that when we strongly feel distress we increase the intake of food high in fat and sugar or both which is detrimental to our health in long run (Check your posts and feeds to cross-check on this). 

So what really made us flung photos of our meals on social media (especially on Facebook) and what could be the best guess to justify this recent online rebellious behavior of ours?

Apparently, one reason is our ‘Herd mentality’ that makes us do what others are doing and make ourselves feel good and happy about being in a league of people with similar tastes and likings. We also share photos to announce to the world that we are so proud that we could prepare the food ourselves. Sharing photos online of what we have cooked also is an attempt to showcase our personal preferences and tastes, and cookery skills-Making your Photo of meals represent you, at least virtually, and uphold and guard your personality on social media. 

Many may argue to protect their justification on recent online ‘food fiesta’ by saying that it was just a perfect time to connect with family members through home cooked food and sharing photos online was just a spontaneously act. But If aforementioned food statistics is to be taken seriously, we have to be mindful of eating whatever we see on our screens and also be equally sensible enough to not share so you don’t influence others. 

All said and done, the recent ‘food fiesta’ on Facebook tells us one thing very loud and clear: We relied heavily on food to lessen the burden caused by all the difficulties string-in by Covid 19. Through Food experimentation and sharing the photos online we made ourselves feel good, happy and important and above all we managed our emotions and succeed to certain extend in de-stressing our 21 days of in-house quarantine during this historic National Lock-down. 

(My personal reflective piece ( inspired by self- realization of the bitter truth)written suppossively for a newspaper a week ago...this is just an opinion..and I am equally guilty for the wrong doing 😜😜. Enjoy reading and if you like it/finds worthy of sharing please do so. Thank you)

Thursday, September 3, 2020

Facebook group for each Zone: A Blessing in Disguise.

Apart from the sole purpose of disseminating information to locals in specific zones, the Facebook group created for the benefit of zones if used extensively will foster even greater community vitality. 

The forum is helping local businesses attract more customers by connecting to the needs and preferences of the local residents. On the other hand, the customers are also benefitted in terms of reduction in travel cost incurred on shopping which were mostly done from far-away shopping malls prior to National lock-down. Similarly, with instant messages on your mobile phone informing you about the arrival of goods, it increases your probability of getting to buy fresh vegetables, dairy products and any other essential goods. Which, in traditional market set-up, is non-existent. 

Overnight the offline store also started to function as a mini-online-retailer, informing and directing shoppers about their location, the goods they sale, and about their new arrivals. The business picked up as new consumers assembled in line to do their purchase.     

Prior to lock-down, residents were botherless about the names of shopkeepers as well as the shops from where they use to purchase their monthly ration. If not face to face, the virtual interaction space created by the Facebook group is helping local residents know their neighbors too and the fellow residents who live few blocks apart. While they meet, though faces are hidden behind those masks but one can feel the warmth of brotherhood and see the smile greeting each-other through their eyes. 

Looking at how quickly vital information is shared and genuine concern been shown to random fellow residents, and how beneficial its turning out to be for everyone at the moment, I foresee many more positive future implications of this virtual space based on this newly discovered sense of brotherhood, trust, and awareness among the local residents. 

The local residents, through this platform, would be now able to instantly organize community services like cleaning, blood donation, planting trees, donating essentials to needy ones, take the ownership of the developmental activities and take good care of the public properties they have been enjoying in their own locality.

If this lively communication and connection continues after lockdown relaxation with this existing yet heighten sense of concern shown beyond one’s four walls and if this magic is true and is prevalent in all zones across the country, then we have succeeded to become stronger than ever, collected and poise in our thoughts and ever more united to fight our common enemy-Covid 19!

Thursday, August 27, 2020

The ‘True Leadership’ in a Pandemic: A Time for employers to Make or Break their employees

The current crisis has a share of lessons for everyone. The work-from-home setup has created greater opportunity for employers to explore their leadership style.  How bosses handle their employees during this national crisis will talk volume about their leadership skills and how sensitive a human is he that resides behind those fancy official titles and positions. 

The one who realizes it earlier and acts accordingly shall rise and shine. The one who wants to still act bossy will soon be left all alone. Every employer at this moment must go extra mile to make their employees feel supported. Dictatorial style in Human Resource management may prove costly. All decisions endorsed by management must be based on mutual consensus, transparency and the comfortability of the employees, and the convenient and continued service to clients must be the bed rock while making all decisions. Such was a decision proposed by Gup and unanimously agreed by landlords of Dagapela who recently waived off rent for 35 tenants who depend on small businesses to support their family now affected by covid 19 - A manifestation of a true leadership.

The current situation must not be also slotted as a period for Employee Performance Evaluation or for the Assessment of the daily input of the employees. This isn’t the best time to measure the productivity of each employees. The employers cannot also expect the same level of productivity from their employees every day. Under the given circumstances, what little effort an employee puts in must be unconditionally applauded. The practice of assessment and evaluation will only erode the existing trust built between employee and the employer. It’s also not the right time for any kind of surveillance but have full faith on the competency of the employees and thus extend full support in every possible way. 

All employers need to understand and give employees enough flexibility to perform their assigned tasks from home. It’s an entirely a new work station and with it brings a lot of other difficulties. The otherwise focused employees may be entangled in wide-range of house-hold chores like parenting and helping spouse as well as attain to the needs of the job that brings food on their table.   

The manner how employers handle their employees right now during this period shall greatly determine the employees’ allegiance and loyalty towards their boss and the company they so long worked hard to built it together. Chances are that the employees would never return to their existing jobs if not treated well. 

There are plenty of good leadership being showcased amidst this crisis. For many employers the well-being of employees were their first priority. With dynamic leadership in play, Gelephu middle secondary school had collectively designed their own Self- Instructional Material to help their own set of students. The workload of both teachers and the parents were considered as corner stone in designing their learning material. The offset teaching learning is successfully continued but the workload for both parties were minimized considering the onset of problems caused by Covid crisis. An employer of a private tourism company has been paying full salary to his employees and has assured full payment till the company restarts its full operation. That’s the kind of many ‘servant leaders’ that our GNH country is blessed with. 

After giving 35% concession on tuition fees of our students owing to the closure of school, my school management also provided sufficient mobile data to help the faculty members felicitate online teaching since 9th March. The Principal and Deputy Principals, through text and voice messages, constantly ensure that they are always available to help us out if need arises. These are types of leadership that is required during this trying times.

If one thing this pandemic will be remembered vividly for many years to come will be the sheer exhibition of leadership from our leaders- good or bad. Today is not late, if you bear a fancy title, you too can become that true leader. It's a known fact that things will not be same anymore. This current crisis, I think, will also greatly influence the way many employers showcase their leadership styles in post-Covid set up making them invest more time and money for the well-being of their hardworking employees -  Employer for Employee and not always  Employee for Employer! 

Wednesday, March 18, 2020

Amidst the menace: Corona Virus vs My Nation.

PC: Google.
History tells many tales of our gallantry and contentment showcased by us in our times of celebration or of challenge. One such story of triumph unfolds as we speak, hear and act through our own little ways as citizens of this Great Nation to help stop the spread of this deadly virus. 

When the first case of COVID 19 was made confirm through Prime Minister’s Official Facebook post on the morning of 6th March we learnt His Majesty himself had been at the frontline the whole night supervising the coordination tasks undertaken to treat the first patient. In the following days, we learn His Majesty is on his way to visit southern dzongkhags to monitor the preparedness in case there is an outbreak. Such selfless and exemplary acts in many occasions in the past and more particularly of the present scenario vehemently reminds us how fortunate we are to have been born in a country with a king who is always there to love, care and protect us. A king who leave behind his palace to safe-guard his subjects! If this Royal act does not shake you and ignite in you the sense of duty to serve our country, then what will?

The coming of COVID 19 also gave an avenue for Exhibition of Leadership chosen by the people of Bhutan last general election. The preparedness to combat COVID 19, giving assurance of safety and the timely dissemination of information by Prime Minister and Health Minister to general public through various means of communication were also appreciated by many from far and wide. 

Needless to mention about the fellow journalists input in catering those valuable information in such critical time. Many netizens, on the other hand, battle it out over social media with English speaking journalists asking them to communicate (during Press Conferences) in Dzongkha so folks in far flung villages can get informed more accurately. They fought a different battle on a different frontline to give Dzongkha, our national language, its due respect and acknowledgement.

Many individual citizens and organizations also came forward to support the government’s effort to mitigate the spread of COVID 19 in the country. Some surrendering their private hotels to be used by government as quarantine centers, some donating face masks, water tanks, some supporting with construction materials to be used for a temporary flu clinic and some even made monetary support. There was something or the other happening. It looked like the whole nation is busy preparing for a grand celebration and no citizen wanted to miss this mega opportunity.

Some media personalities shared self-produced advocacy videos and creative posters online to better inform our fellow citizens about the Dos and Don’ts. Like awakening from a slumber the nation wakes up as one strong team to fight against this modern enemy.

Equally worried yet inspired and motivated were the educators. Teachers from across the country came forward as individuals to form an Association (Volunteer Teachers of Bhutan) to initiate e-learning through video productions and had also express their intend to remain active and useful as an independent Association in any other national emergencies.

With our first and the only COVID 19 patient already evacuated to US for further treatment, the United Nations now declaring this disease as a Pandemic and our neighboring countries battling it head on, the sense of venerability of getting infected through contact with potential patients across the border has once again resurrected the need for Royal Government of Bhutan to provide more of low cost housing colonies inside Phuntsholing so (those left out 3000 plus Bhutanese)fellow brothers and sisters who still reside in Jaigoan could have same liberty and the privilege to dwell in their own mother land without any forms of fear or guilt. The need to have internal highways in the southern belt for our own security is also felt strongly again.

Irrespective of our dwelling in the country or abroad, we shall always remain indebted to our Kings. we, Bhutanese in general, shall come forward to work towards attaining our collective national goals and aspirations and the infamous online debate over excessive use of English language during press conferences and the need to improve and develop our national language for sure shall continue even after this COVID 19 saga. But above all, there has been a complete positive change in two other important aspects of our way of life lately. 

This pandemic firstly reminded us the sheer importance of personal hygiene namely hand washing and secondly the need to utilize and implement eLearning platforms to continue schooling and thus to meaningfully engage our kids in such unforeseen times.

The Thrim-Throm office along with some private organizations have installed water taps along Nordzin Lam for shoppers and pedestrians to wash thier hands to fend off the corona virus. These water taps and all good practices  must continue even after the normalcy returns.

As schools and educational institutions in the four identified Dzongkhags were ordered to shutdown for the following two weeks many schools immediately made use of WhatsApp, emails and BlogSpot to assign online  assignments to their students. Few video lessons were also uploaded by some teachers on Facebook so their learners could learn from it. Schools also simultaneously  conducted PD on google classroom to facilitate more efficient distance teaching-learning experience.

With now further extension of the closer of schools (including the schools across the country w.e.f. 19th march) it shall be both challenging and as well as an enriching experience for both teachers and learners. The teachers shall be even busier planning and preparing different teaching learning materials to suit eLearning. Students shall also take personal responsibility for their learning and thus become a self-learner for life. A distant aspiration for technological aided learning which is about to be actualised within a few weeks time.

As per last night’s update from Prime Minister’s Office suggested that the closer of schools due to COVID 19 proved more beneficial. As children stayed at home it  improved parents-children relationship and parents were also involved in assisting children with their lessons and online assignments:

With His Majesty's guidance and blessings, the leadership showcased by the government of the day  and the brave troops in the form of private volunteers and frontline health workers nothing will stop us from fending off this virus. Collectively we are giving Covid 19 a good fight. And Thus, many positive developments have also happened  and are happening amidst this menace: An epic example of 'blessing in disguise' or call it a case of 'every cloud has  a silver lining' story.


Monday, March 9, 2020

What to do best when you are under home quarantine!

Allow me to share some important insights of how to cope up the so called being "under home quarantine". This is for my little friends and parents to read and take the best out of this situation.

Quality time with my little man under our madeshift house in our living room.

The following is an abstract from an online page. Hope you would find it useful.

"Keeping spirits up in quarantine at home:

Being under quarantine can be frightening, particularly for young children.

Suggestions include:
Find out everything you can about the infection from reliable sources.

Talk to the other members of the family about the infection. Understanding the illness will reduce anxiety.

Reassure young children using age-appropriate language.

Keep up a normal daily routine as much as possible.

Maintain apositive attitude.Think about how you’ve coped with difficult situations in the past and reassure yourself that you will cope with this situation too.

Remember that quarantine won’t last for long.

Keep in touch with family members and friends via telephone, email or social media.

Exercise regularly. Options could include exercise DVDs, dancing, floor exercises, yoga, walking around the backyard or using home exercise equipment, such as a stationary bicycle, if you have it. Exercise is a proven treatment for stress and depression.
Reducing boredom while in quarantine at home.

Being confined to home for an extended period of time can cause boredom, stress and conflict.

Suggestions include:
Arrange with your boss to work from home, if possible.

Ask your child’s school to supply assignments, work sheets and homework by post or email.

Take everyone’s needs into account as much as possible when you plan activities. Remember, you don’t have to spend every moment of quarantine together.

Make sure everyone gets the opportunity to spend some time alone.
Plan ‘time out’ from each other. You could split the family into teams that occupy different areas of the house – for example, Dad with one child in the garage and Mum with the other child in the lounge room – then swap the following day.

Don’t rely too heavily on the television and technology.

Treat quarantine as an opportunity to do some of those things you never usually have time for, such as board games, craft, drawing and reading.

Accept that conflict and arguments may occur. Try to resolve issues quickly. Distraction may work with young children." 

Though our situation, at the moment, may not be of real great concern(still we are in the so called orange zone)....but getting updated on essential information is always beneficial.

Stay safe! Wash your  hands, avoid crowd. Read well and complete your home assignments on time..... And most importantly Be Happy

My Message to my Students on Children's Day

When my friends ask me why I decided to be a school teacher? I would often say that because we get July and January off I decided to do this...