During the summer months of July and August 2018 a group of three students (Alex Chak, Alexander McFadzean, and Drake Wong) travelled to Thimphu (the capital of Bhutan) for a two week period. From the fundraising and the generous donations received in the initial year, we were able to purchase over 1,300 English-learning resources and pay for the transportation over to Bhutan.
On arrival, we had to convert one of the monastery's old storage rooms into a functioning library and teaching space. The space was cleaned from 'top to bottom' and necessary repairs were made and structures erected, with the help of a qualified tradesman. In addition, we built the residing teacher, a volunteer, his own living space.
We then proceeded to teach the monks for two weeks, demonstrating to the monks and the volunteer teacher how to utilise the new english resources. We taught three different groups of monks - who had varying degrees of English literacy - from basic phonetics - "cat sat on a mat" to proper conversations and debates. It helped greatly to improve their confidence and appreciation for the English language.
Furthermore, we were also given the opportunity to create a three-day "crash course" in debating and public speaking to the students at the "Institute of Science of Mind", a Buddhist college for the lay community. The course was designed to develop the critical thinking, communication and teamwork skills within the students, as well as instilling confidence and intellectual curiosity. With our guidance, all students successfully researched and presented their responses to the various debate-style questions posed. This was a challenging, but truly rewarding experience.
It is fair to say that the expedition was a success, with all students involved having their English greatly improved, and being able to access the necessary resources for future learning. We look forward to returning the following year!