Two Responses to the “Mothers of the Movement”

Our socially critical Class 8 responds thoughtfully and sensitively to powerful speeches delivered a few months ago by mothers of Black teenagers killed by police violence in the United States.

Dear Mothers of the Movement

Dear Mothers of the Movement,

Firstly, I wanted to wish good luck to all of you for starting the movement. I really like how all of you are fighting and protesting for your rights.

You may question yourself that how an 8th grade 13-year-old girl in India knew about your group. Your answer is that today, in English class, our teacher and we have been learning a lot about the injustice between black and white people, and today she showed us the speech of your group.

I learned that your children were killed by some white officers. I felt so sorry for all of you. I know how much it pains if our loved ones are gone or sick. I myself have experienced it when my dearest grandmom was sick. Even now she is not fully cured but still she is alive. I know that the pain was a hundred times bigger than my pain. I feel that you truly are mothers of the movement. I think you should continue your movement.

I will keep your children in every prayer I attend, and I will also pray for you all. I think it will send some positive power.

Once again, good luck.

Hope to get your reply.

Srijana Subba

To the Mothers of the Movement

To the Mothers of the Movement,

Tashi delek.

How are you all?

Sorry that you all’s children were killed because they were of colour. I have seen your movie and I liked it and was sad too. I think you all are kind and are heartbroken. I wish I could vote.

I wish I can change this situation and when I grow up I will try my best to change some white people’s minds and make them think like you all think. I will tell some police to do work with cool mind and listen to what black people and also white people say. I will write many magazines where there is shown black people as well as white people. I will tell that every person has to be treated equally and I would give message that don’t look at face and do work. Work carefully, thoughtfully, and know someone’s feelings, and work.

I think it’s hard but you can do it if you do from your heart.

Here is a short poem which I want to tell you:

Try, try, try,
One day you will do it,
Nothing is impossible,
Everything is possible if you try.

Thank you,
Rinchen Dorjee

Posted in Classroom Glimpses | 1 Comment

400 Heaping Paces to the Origin of Life

evolution walk

Earlier this year, Class 6 enjoyed an English-Science(-Math) unit delving into modern and traditional origin stories. One particularly memorable achievement was an incredible piece of collaborative storytelling, in which the group worked together to create a to-scale timeline of the evolution of life on Earth.

Having studied the concept in the classroom, the students plotted the scene of their demonstration to the outside world: from the neck of Jhamtse’s driveway to the first switchback bend. First, we measured the terrain. Second, we worked through a series of calculations to establish our million-years-to-paces ratio, then dozens of multiplications later the students determined how many paces from our origin each placard needed to be situated.

When we returned to our expansive canvas, students were challenged to work together and problem solve to affix their various markers along the path. At first, things were a little aimless and chaotic, as the group struggled to establish a rhythm, but very quickly students stepped forward into various dynamic roles: some took charge of subtracting one marker location from the next, establishing how many additional paces a measurer would have to walk before the next paper should be placed, as their peers simultaneously emerged as energetic pace counters. Other students sorted through papers, while still others, with remarkable resourcefulness and creativity, constructed an impressive variety of signposts upon which to display their evolutionary milestones.

All in all, a striking and engaging project, awesome collaborative process, and finally a product they were proud to show off to their teachers and friends.

evolution walk

The team sorts their papers at the origin of life on Earth

evolution walk

Lobsang Yudron measures paces to our next landmark

evolution walk

Tashi Yangzom B shows off the dawn of landplants

evolution walk

Tashi Yangzom B, Lungta Sangmu, and Tenzin Tashi rifle through evolutionary milestones

evolution walk

Lungta Sangmu calculates our next step

evolution walk

Tashi Yangzom B and Lungta Sangmu deliberate and delegate

evolution walk

Tsering Pema and Tenzin Tashi welcome earthworms to the planet

evolution walk

Therchung Tsering marks the birth of flowering plants

evolution walk

Kunsang Drolma and Therchung Tsering put a stake in the ground

evolution walk

Lungta Sangmu, we’ve made it to the present day

evolution walk

11- Several billion years later, a job well done

Posted in Classroom Glimpses | 3 Comments

JG Girls Shine at Inaugural Regional Volleyball Tournament

girls volleyball 2016

The Jhamtse Gatsal girls’ volleyball team faces Lumla Higher Secondary School. Photo by Nidhi Iyer

August 15, 2016

For the last three years, Jhamtse has enjoyed supporting the elder boys of our community at a local volleyball competition celebrating India’s Independence Day. However, this year was particularly exhilarating and historic as, for the first time, the organizing committee included Lumla’s female athletes, as well!

Jhamtse’s girls’ team, assembled of seven spirited students from grades 7-10, challenged themselves, rallied in the face of discouragement, and finally stole the show, emerging as Lumla’s first ever women’s volleyball champions! The community was thrilled to gather in support of our tremendous sisters, to cheer them on and embrace them in congratulations of games well played—those both won and lost. Their focus, teamwork, communication, positivity, and sportspersonship were an inspiration throughout the week-long competition, and to watch them beam in that accomplishment, raising the trophy high in the air on the final ride home, was truly a joy.

But, the students can tell it better than I can. Here are some pieces of writing describing their experiences of the final match, by members of Classes 6 and 7:

Dorjee Yangki, Class 7 (team member: servicer)

It was 15 August and my team was going to play in the finals. First the boys played. Sir Lham Dorjee told us not to stay in the sun.

Now it was our turn to play. We were against KGBV. They were strong. I could hear my heartbeat was beating loudly. I saw clouds were becoming dark in colour and I could hear lightning. At first we decided to play best of five. We did a bit of warm up. At the first match we lost it. We took some break and our staff gave us some feedback. I drank water with glucose and it tasted sweet. We were ready to play the second match.

I could taste rain water and could feel it. But I was not cold, I was warm.

I could feel rain was falling on me. I could hear people shouting at me like, “Service on the net.” I gave service and it got straight to the side of centre and they couldn’t receive it. I felt relaxed and excited. We won the second match. We were happy. It was becoming darker and our referee said that we would play only best of three and we all agreed it. And I also agreed it. Now it was final and we had to win it. It was all mud and it was all wet. We all played from our hearts. Our children and staff were saying, “Play it from your heart.” Now our points were 13 each. We changed our side. I was happy that we got the good side. I could feel that the ball was very hard and it hurt my arm but I could receive it. I received the ball and gave to our main cutter and she gave a smash and we got points.

Now we needed only one point to win. It was my turn to serve it. I felt like I would finish the game. I gave service, and it went straight to their cutter, but the cutter received it and she threw outside of the line. I could see it was an out ball. I asked Tashi Tsomu, “Don’t receive the ball,” and she heard my voice and she didn’t receive it. It was the end of the game. We won the final match. We got our trophy and many people were taking pictures. There were many cell phones. I was nervous where to look and at last I looked in front of me and gave a smile.

Sonam Lhamo, Class 7 (team member: substitute)

It was a sunny morning but as our Jhamtse team played the water dripped and it started to become rainy. I felt cold and I was scared. As I stood up and went to cheer for our team I saw that we didn’t have any space but our Ma’ams Ishika and Nidhi were trying to make space for us. But my ears were also paining because there were many people, volunteers, leaders, students, and players. Most of all of them were cheering. Then I crawled from under the truck because there was no space to go from. I smelled the petrol leak and I saw the water mix with it. For the first match I cheered from under the tent but when I realized that K.G.B.V. won I wasn’t satisfied so I went around our team to cheer, support and encourage them.

When we won one match then I took a long breath and gave a smile to each of the players showing my thumb and raising it high like as if I was wishing them good luck. Then I felt the dust and the sweat of myself. When I turned back a taxi rushed behind us and it smelled very bad which was the smoke of the car. Then a person gave me a bottle to clap with it.

As soon as we won the second match I saw that the bottle was crushed. When our team played the third game I wasn’t as scared as I was before. And I also saw that when we were singing the English and Hindi song peacefully the others didn’t cheer at all. When I looked at the field I saw Yangki receive the ball and I felt like she would fall because it was raining and it was muddy too. And when Yangki served everyone was telling her to serve in the net except for Jhamtse and some others which were supporting us. They were encouraging her.

When our team won I threw the crumbled bottle away and bowed from under the white boundary thread and just jumped and hugged each of them for a long time and took the longest breath.

When we were going to take the trophy we went with line and as everyone was shaking our hands. We felt like so special guest. When they were taking pictures I saw that there were many cell phones and the flashlights were on and felt like as if we are the actresses and they were shooting film.

Tsering Lhadron A, Class 7

Yesterday by playing of volleyball by sisters my heart was sinking in the droplets of water. I could smell the powerful dirt that passes by. Smashing of the sound I could hear the sounds of the audience shouting and cheering for their team. I jumped and felt like a flying bird that just got freedom because I saw my sis were winning the game. I felt fear of losing because they had the similar points. Then children were running hugged the sisters and felt the sweet hugs and cried the cheerful tears.

Sangey Lhazom, Class 6

girls volleyball 2016

Posted in Events, Straight From the Students | 3 Comments

Library Update

Jhamtse Gatsal has been incredibly lucky to have many generous sponsors supporting the establishment and growth of our school library.

This year, upon returning, I was able to bring back several suitcases of new books, selected particularly according to students’ requests: continuations of a beloved series, ghost stories, favorite authors, graphic novels, literature on a variety of topics and at a variety of levels as required by our diverse and developing readers!

Here are a few overdue pictures of its grand re-opening in May, having been freshly catalogued and shifted to a new and energetically decorated location (brightened by two walls of windows and solar power for the winter evenings!), followed by a few pieces of student writing on the topic that have emerged during our poetry sessions throughout the semester.

(We certainly do!)

With deepest of thanks,

2016 library update

The first day of school (and the last day things were ever so pristine)

2016 library update

Sixth graders excited about the new blackboard wall in our first class meeting of the year

2016 library update


2016 library update


2016 library update

The English classroom and library during evening Independent Time

2016 library update

Tsering Gombu and Tsangpa Tashi explore the non-fiction shelf

2016 library update

Students gathered in the reading nook enjoy their favorite graphic novels

2016 library update

Tsering Lhadron A’s reading journal

Oh Book!
by Lobsang Dadron, Class 7

Oh Book! What a book are you.
Everybody come on let’s read the book.
What a magical beach are there full of animal.
It’s maybe animal beach.
See the elephant is flying.
Oh, the cow is wearing a glass and singing.
The fish had come out from the water.
What a horse,
It is walking like us.
Gorilla is surfing in water.
All the animals are enjoying the magical beach.
Oh! Book what a book are you.
I can’t tell what a book are you.

My Secret
by Dawa Chodron, Class 7

Come here Hassain
I’ll tell about book.
When we read book
We go to another place
And become the main character
We are one who protect
the world in the book.
If we are boring then
we read book then in
the book we are doing anything.
In book you fight to your enemy.

When we read story book
We feel like we are in
Heaven and enjoying ourself.

Come here Hassain
Come with me
And read a story book.

by Sonam Lhamo, Class 7




by Dorjee Yangki, Class 7

I have been,
talking very loudly
but they need
me to be silent.

They were reading
very quietly
in the big

Please forgive me
that I have broken
your dreams in

Posted in Education, Improvements | 1 Comment

Happy Thanksgiving from Jhamtse Gatsal!

jhamtse thanksgiving

As he bid us farewell last week, Dr. Frank told us we were “richest place on Earth.” What did he mean?

Tenzin Norbu

Doctor Frank called us the “richest place on Earth” because our place is so nice and also is a place where love and wisdom are here. In Jhamtse Gatsal School, Genla and amalas also care for us. And also we never see a place like our school.

Konchok Norbu

He means that in our school the children help each other and also they share knowledge to each other. And our school is in top of mountains.

Mani Wangmu

In my opinion it means that here at Jhamtse are full of mountains, and the members of Jhamtse are kind, love, and take a good care of each other. It is the most harmoniest place. Whenever people come, they love our school.

Shanti Tamang

He means that he gets love and care from us and he loves this place. We care for each other and we are like a family. When people come to our school as volunteers, they live as one family with our school.

Warm wishes from all of us here at Jhamtse!
Some posters by the kids greeted us over breakfast this morning:

jhamtse thanksgiving poster

jhamtse thanksgiving poster

By lunch, a flock of feathered friends from Kindergarten had joined in the decoration:

kg turkey decorations

kg turkey decorations - Lobsang Tsering

kg turkey decorations - Tashi Drolma

Finally, a few Class 8 students do a bit of creative writing on the prompt of gratitude:

jhamtse thanksgiving writing

jhamtse thanksgiving writing

jhamtse thanksgiving writing

jhamtse thanksgiving writing

jhamtse thanksgiving writing

jhamtse thanksgiving writing

All of us here at Jhamtse extend our deepest gratitude and wishes for a warm holiday season to all the members of our vast family across the globe. Thank you for your overwhelming support, encouragement, and care. Today, together, we have so much to be thankful for.

Posted in Events, Straight From the Students | 4 Comments

Structural Violence in Education, as told by Class VIII

Class VIII has finished up their unit on structural violence in education with flying colors.

A few weekends ago, we took a trip to the local public high school to observe their environment and classes and interview students and staff. The students asked poignant questions, astutely noticed themes and details, and commendably pushed themselves to engage and inquire even when at first they felt shy.

students in Lumla, India

L to R – Dorjee Wangchu, Tenzin Norbu, Lungta Lhamu, Tenzin Lhadron A, Shanti Tamang, and Tenzin Lhadron B conducting interviews at the local public high school

Upon returning, the students collaborated to diagram themes and generalizations they had pulled together from their varied sources throughout the course of the project.

illustrative response to 'Schooling the World'

An illustration of their trip, paired with an episode from ‘Schooling the World,’ by Sonam Chodron, Tenzin Lhadron B, Shanti Tamang, Dorjee Wangchu and Sangey Ngodup

diagram response to 'Schooling the World'

Diagrams of ‘Schooling the World’ by Mani Wangmu, Tenzin Lhadron A, Konchok Norbu, Tenzin Norbu, and Lungta Lhamu

diagram response to 'Schooling the World'

Diagrams of ‘Schooling the World’ by Mani Wangmu, Tenzin Lhadron A, Konchok Norbu, Tenzin Norbu, and Lungta Lhamu

Finally, they personally shared some observations and conclusions.

Sonam Chodron:

In interview to others what I learn is that all people are not good. Some people they discriminate in culture and language.

Sangey Ngodup:

All the world’s people are talking in English and in village, people are learning English and they are forgetting their own language and Maling goes to college. She has to talk in English.

Tenzin Norbu:

They think that the English languages is important and some uneducated people also think that modern education is more important than ancient. Some people said with English language you can go any place and you have jobs in your life. The Monpa language people they think that the English language can change our life and if you know English then you have skills to do everything in your life.

Obu Maling says that when they went to other places they are learning more things. And in the village they are learning more peace and harmony.

Konchok Norbu:

Everyone is talking in English. For example, in Ladhak’s school they have to talk in English and when they don’t talk in English they have to give five rupies and the teacher gives punishment to her or him. For example, in college they have to talk in English. If they don’t talk in English, they don’t get a good job and also they don’t know what they are talking when they are talking in English. This is Obu Maling’s school. For example, in New Delhi they talk in English medium. They talk Hindi in Delhi. They get good jobs because they talk in English and they don’t get jobs if they have no education. Obu Maling said this. In conclusion, if I study in college we have to talk in English because the powerful people they talk in English.

In Monyul, people forget their culture and also they wear the modern dress and also when they farm they use tractor and they don’t use cow and the buffalo and they don’t use Monpa words and they use Hindi languages.

Tenzin Lhadron B:

One man is saying in that movie [“Schooling the World”] about structural violence. Suppose he is telling like nowadays our culture is losing our identities because all human beings are dependent in modern technology.

I learned in the TED talk there was one boy who was 14 years old and he doesn’t like to go to school. He likes to spend his time outside whole day. He likes to make different types of things like pendulums and he likes to join the market and know about them. He always learns mathematics and he wants to build things by himself. He tells about time in nature and we depend on each other. He likes to exercise, skating, etc. So I learned that it isn’t necessary that we should go to school. We can also do the same as he does. We have to do whatever we like, which we feel good to do.

Mani Wangmu:

At the high school they give their answer quickly when the teacher asks them. At JGCC we talk to them like our friends to staff. At the high school when the teacher is talking, the kids themselves talk a lot. The teacher says don’t talk then children’s don’t talk because the teacher scolds them. At JGCC amalas say don’t do this work and we don’t do that because we are doing a wrong thing and amala is saying right thing.

In the TED talk I was surprised by that boy because he makes his own school which I have never thought. In our project about Giant Ant Hills what surprised me was they don’t go to school, they learn by themselves.

Tenzin Lhadron A:

At both schools, teachers, staff, amalas and elders have more power. Like when the teacher says to study then the children have to listen. When the amala says to clean the room or work with amala in the garden then we have to listen. That is the power of older.

Dorjee Wangchu:

At [the public high school], all the knowledge and skills are privileged but the people think education is more privileged because people think if we are doing a job then we can earn more money and we don’t have to do hard work. At JGCC, they think love, wisdom, truthful, compassion, and education are important because when we do love and compassion, all the people will like us.

Shanti Tamang:

In Higher Secondary School they did not get a good education because they do not have many teachers in their school. In one class they have many students and the teacher can’t explain one point to every student coming near them. That’s why the teachers teach a lesson to everybody in one time. They are trying to make their school better and they are trying to make their school equal to another school.

In their school there they only teach English, Math, Science, Hindi and Social but they do not teach Bhoti [Tibetan]. In our school education and language are privileged. We have the culture also privileged. We have to know more about our world and we also have to know about our culture. We have to get knowledge from the book, from the friends, and from the teacher. In our school we have a right to learn everything that we want to learn.

Something new that I did not know is that the street children, they learn by themselves and share their knowledge to each other. In Giant Ant Hills story, the children did not have any teacher and they go themselves to the jungle and learn about the plants and they come home and tell to the people which is good and which is bad. They did not have the right to speak because they are tribals. In Higher Secondary School some students like to study like me. In TED talk the boy likes to research by himself like me.

Posted in Classroom Glimpses | 4 Comments

“In my life, light means…”

photo of flowers and sunlight


“[T]he light of love shown on me in that very hour.”
-Helen Keller


An opener for Class X:

In The Story of My Life, Keller uses lots of light imagery. What is a light in your life?

Some enlightening responses:

Tsandong Lhamo

Light for me is not in a sense of having a light in a house, but light for me in my life is making me out of ignorance, making me a knowledgeable person in such a way that can help others and gives joy and a great hope for everybody. It is a method/process/way to erase darkness from each and every individual person.

Tsewang Lhamo

First of all, for sure education is a light to me because through education today I came to know so many wonderful people who visited our school. Education brought be from darkness to light, love, care, which I get from all people of Jhamtse, and support are my light which gives me courage to do something or go further.

Namgey Chodron A

Light in my life is that when my mind is full of unknown things and when I get a path to get rid of that unknown things then it is a light in my life. Also when I have a good relationship between others and get love from them and giving love to them is also a light in my life.

Pema Drolma A

In my life, light represents the positive, joy, success, happiness and smile. It is also how well I am developing with the help and support that I get from my friends, teachers and parents and staff at Jhamtse, etc. It is the new changes that come in my lie. If I am following a wrong path, then what makes one realize it by erasing the negative thoughts and darkness of life and brings me in correct path that I must follow is the light.

Tenzin Drolma A

Light is happiness, joy, fortune, and eraser of sorrow, darkness, sadness, etc. A good living situation makes us able to see what is wrong and right.

Tsering Wangmo A

In my life, light means a brightness that clears the darkness and which brings new hope, joy, or happiness to our life.

Sangey Tsering

In my life at Jhamtse I am too lucky to have opportunities for everything what I wanted, and it shows me my life is like a light.

Sangey Drolma

In my life, light is happiness and joy. In Jhamtse Gatsal, all staff and teachers take care of us. Our friends give us happiness for me. Sometimes I think I have no parents but no matter, I am happy in here. Sometimes darkness comes with me, then I can solve our problem. I share with my friend, then she or he also helps to me.

Sumchoo Drolma

In my life, light means Jhamtse Gatsal and my lovely family. Jhamtse Gatsal is light for me because it gives me knowledge, and helps me to get out from the darkness and my family is also a light for me because they love me and whenever I feel sad or lonely they take a smile on my face and I feel that somebody is here who cares about me and I feel joyful and it is light which keeps me alive.

Rinchen Tsering

As I know my life in Jhamtse is quite excellent and I am satisfied so far that I have in my life till today but if I wish I will wish for the god to have my both parents together, and my brother and sister are all in one family and happily. My life will be much more fun or joyful if I would have freedom to do anything, far from my parents and doing very funny things with my friends. Sometimes it feels to me good to go visit my parents. That makes me feel pleasure. If I would have all these things then that is light of my life.

Posted in Classroom Glimpses | 2 Comments

A Reflection in Rhyme

We recently bid goodbye to a dearly loved volunteer, David Wilmot, but not nearly as elegantly as he bid farewell to us! See below some favorite excerpts from a tremendous 12-page poetic epic he left pinned up in the kitchen the night of his departure, accompanied here by a few photos of his as well.



photo by David Wilmot

David with Tenzin Norbu, trying on some costumes before a dance performance.

photo by David Wilmot
photo by David Wilmot
photo by David Wilmot
photo by David Wilmot
photo by David Wilmot
photo by David Wilmot
photo by David Wilmot
photo by David Wilmot
photo by David Wilmot
photo by David Wilmot
photo by David Wilmot
photo by David Wilmot
photo by David Wilmot
photo by David Wilmot
photo by David Wilmot
photo by David Wilmot
photo by David Wilmot
photo by David Wilmot

A sumo starting upon break of dawn
a long tricky road, not nearly so wide
past summit and stream blasting the horn
over Sela, into Tawang with a jolt and a slide
after seventeen hours tired and forlorn
in darkness Jhamtse Gatsal School is spied
greetings from children arranged in a line
with hugs, love, and affection scarcely so kind


Classes six to eight trip to the nunnery
did bring sweets and nuts in giant sacks
following the climb down and back past the shrubbery
from Tawang, Manpat, Lumla glorious snacks
chocolate bars, candy, gum, and packets of savouries
were shared among all, and eagerly attacked
Monpa and Bollywood, loud and energetic singing
rang through the bus as the light was dimming


Jhamtse’s kitchen garden, seeds to sew
amalas and children weed, water, and dig
beans, tomatoes and cabbage under the hoe
in the nourishing soil from a tiny sprig
in the sun, well nurtured, ripen and grow
fresh cauliflowers succulent and big
picked fresh from the ground, carried to eat
tasty vegetable curry is a lunch time treat


Sunny afternoon, time for a cricket match
a heave over long on flies through the air
the fielder back, a run, a dive, a catch
the players and Madam Yangi loudly cheer
next ball, short and wide, is roundly dispatched
runs and fours to the hero of the hour
when hooked, clattering onto the roof astray
the losing of the ball marks close of play


Dark and rainy, perfect for a movie night
children gather for a superhero action story
baddies, heroes, tangle, tumble, and fight
will the Avengers emerge with honour and glory?
An excited audience watch with delight
explosions, crashes, chases of fury
finale is near, when a buzz, broken HDMI
scuttles forth to the bathroom, all do decry


Sleepy walk for breakfast, good morning, and a hug
greetings as warm and sweet as the milky tea
with roti, dal, together sitting snug
I like the roti better when fried in ghee
talk of last night and lessons, refill my mug
queues for washing dishes, the morning duty
after eating is there time for a shower?
booked by Priyanka, I’ll wait an hour


Four to five elective time, project for history
listen to a radio show about something old
rubber ducks in costumes are a mystery
war chariots richly furnished in gold
mammoth tusk reindeer swimming briskly
describe and interpret the story told
projects on Kings, or culinary traditions
are the subject of the history exhibition


Legends of ancient Japan, Bushido, Samurai
Harley Davidson, iconic American bike
clothes of the world, luxury silk dye
the Second World War, Hitler, the Third Reich
Pharaonic queens, Tutankhamun, Horus’s Eye,
hunting mammoths with stone knapped pikes
colourful posters and models to deliver
if the internet works, and don’t lose scissors


In the morning, soft, curling, white smoke
the Dalai Llama’s birthday, offer a prayer
for Tibetan dances, songs come local folk
hymns of praise, flags, shang for the holy chair
melodic strings, tinkling cymbals to evoke
a love for powerful performers with flair
after Yak Dance, a feast fit for the Savoy
but the pupils’ panoply brought most joy


Nidhi’s “Dholna Rajastani”, not a tango
leaping across the floor, ending in a swirl
Kim and Tsering passing at an angle
while Sonam, Tenzin, and Shanti take a twirl
dressed in saris and glittering bangles
costumes bright, in all colours for the girls
speed of foot and timing did impress
Yeshi says, “a little bit good, yes?”


Led by crashing cymbals and banging drum
a masked dancer opens the Lion Dance
with jaunty stride, fierce teeth, white fur from
beyond, lions strutting, rolling, they stand and glance
joined now by a smaller one, their young
playing, suckling, sleeping in a deep trance
rising for the guests long silks of white
the lions leave showing their power and might


Lobsang’s birthday, outside with cake and candles
tied to a tree – letters, cards, gifts
chocolates, cheese and biscuits, juice is ample
Genla and the teachers try Raju’s lift
the cutting of cake ends in a tangle
smeared having been aerially dished
after dancing and music of all sort
lifting Nidhi becomes the chosen sport


A walk along the ridge to the mani wall
to the stone, where there are prayer flags
a place for a picnic, having a ball
with views of the river, sitting on the crag
you can see Bhutan but not Senegal
while eating treats from the picnic bag
when the eating and playing is done
back up to Jhamtse for more fun


Jhamtses favourite sport is volleyball
to play morning, noon, and night, they like
in the shade of trees, they jump, a blocking wall
but past rising high a winning spike
into the dust between the defenders sprawl
played by all from tallest to smallest tyke
in Lumla leagues, and tournaments compete
with skill, speed, and teamwork rivals they defeat


Evening in the houses, no time for sleep
maths homework to do, finding the number
stories of ghosts, spoken from behind sheets
letters to sponsors, and bracelets of wonder
goodnight hugs and kisses, clambering feet
some are too tired and slip into slumber
in the dark, time for songs, a merry lark
houses of Jhamtse, a refuge, Noah’s ark


Now it comes to goodbye and farewell
a last party, not time to be sad
on happy memories of classes, and parties to dwell
walks, blessings, trips and friendships I’ve had
the Garden of Love and Compassion’s spell
at Jhamtse where everyone is glad
as Genla says on parting when feeling blue
if you don’t go how will I miss you?


Posted in Visitor Thoughts | 5 Comments

“Beautiful should have it in every angle.”

photo of prayer flags

Photo by budding photographer, Raju Kumar, Class IX


Priming us to explore a funny episode in Jerome K. Jerome’s classic Three Men in a Boat—an aesthetically humble storekeeper plasters over expensive antique oak paneling with garish blue wallpaper, hullaballoo ensues—today’s three student teachers of Class IX kick their lesson off with the endlessly provocative “What does beautiful mean for you?”

Tashi Tsomu:

All beautiful is not beautiful but if we love something then that is beautiful.

Phurpa Lhamo:

Beautiful is what we love but different people have different meaning of beautiful. How we see and how we feel. Beautiful is not artificial, it is a nature.

Langa Tsering:

I think beautiful means that when we see something is good or looking nice is beautiful. Kind heart and positive thinking is also beautiful. Beautiful that is natural beautiful is most beautiful in the world. Beautiful is when we like something is beautiful. Beautiful is that some things that makes other people happy.

Dawa Dorjee:

For me beautiful doesn’t mean it has beauty face, beauty body, good looking. It means that pure heart, kind heart and their heart is full of love and compassion.

Raju Kumar:

Beautiful mean in my way is that a beautiful should have it in every angles. It doesn’t mean the good looking. A clear thinking of that person. We should look in their work not in their look. “A person is known by their work, not by their name!”

Tenzin Lhamo:

If persons who don’t have a hand, blind person, can’t talk, no legs, no hair but if they have a positive mind and helpful person for me this is my beautiful to me. Beautiful not mean that people who have a beautiful eyes and beautiful face. People should also need kind heart. Even the grandmothers also beautiful.

Rinchen Drolma:

For me beauty doesn’t only means of having beautiful face. It is something which we can take our attention and inspire us. Beauty is a pure heart. It is the most purest form of beauty which can make all the living beings happy and will always desire to have it. Different people have different talent which is not present in other. I am proud of my parents who gave me everything I should have. There are people who doesn’t have everything they should have. Some examples are blind eyes who have came to the earth to see the beauty of nature but they can’t see but they have their own talent to feel the beauty of nature which we don’t have. Every being have different ways to feel beauty so I will stop my magic pen here. P.S. Thanks for my of giving me my extra talent which is not present in others.

Posted in Classroom Glimpses | Comments Off on “Beautiful should have it in every angle.”

“We don’t have to see what all media and newspaper show us. Beauty is about compassion and love inside our heart.”

Having explored how corporations use media to manipulate us into consuming their products, Class VII spent some time contemplating and investigating how this barrage of messages affects our own self-image and conceptions of “beauty.”

We identified common messages about beauty in relation to gender and skin color, after (several, by popular demand) screenings of Dove’s “Evolution of Beauty” and Lupita Nyong’o’s inspiring speech on her own journey to recognize the beauty in her dark skin. The students astutely identified parallels between her story and the proliferation of skin lightening creams like “Fair & Lovely” available in even the smallest shops here in Lumla.

The students responded to a series of portraits by Carol Rossetti, explicitly calling out and rejecting these insidious negative messages through personal narrative, then processed their observations and opinions by creating their own works of art in her style.


gallery walk responses

gallery walk responses


gallery walk responses

gallery walk responses

gallery walk responses

gallery walk responses

gallery walk responses


Posted in Classroom Glimpses | 1 Comment

“It tells that it is very cool but it will only take our money.”

Following up a poignant (and adorable) Environment Day performance by the preschool through fifth grade classes, Class VI has recently been delving into the way corporations manipulate us with advertisements and the media.

Class VII Advertisements

Tsering Lhadron A dissects a magazine ad.


After watching Annie Leonard’s “The Story of Bottled Water” the students confronted magazine ads to identify instances where they were being scared, seduced, and misled.

Class VII Advertisement Grids

Dawa Chodron

Class VII Advertisement Grids

Dorjee Yangkey

Class VII Advertisement Grids

Srijana Subba


The students challenged themselves to explore further this process of distortion and control by drafting their own marketing schemes for imaginary products.

Class VII Advertisement

Dawa Chodron

Class VII Advertisement

Lobsang Dadron

Class VII Advertisement

Pratima Sutradhar

Class VII Advertisement

Rinchen Nima

Class VII Advertisement

Srijana Subba

Class VII Advertisement

Tsering Lhadron A

Posted in Classroom Glimpses | 1 Comment

Jhamtse Blanket Now Several Times More Snugglable!

One lazy, rainy vacation afternoon, Sanjay and Abhijit pay me a visit. Eager for a project, we wind up sewing on some recently received rectangles to the ever-expanding Jhamtse Community Blanket, started back in 2011 and product of the amalgamated efforts of many sponsors and students here and abroad. With the last wave of sponsor letters, some families had included some new patches for the marvelously mosaicked collaboration, and today the kids excited to weave them into the growing fibrous network.
Sanjay Kumar, JG blanket 2011
Sanjay, who always stays at school during his vacations, has been sewing pieces like these together since his nimble fingers were half their current size. Abhijit, his young apprentice, just joined the school this year, the son of the community’s new carpenter. It was very neat to watch Sanjay show him, quite literally, the ropes.

The best part was when Tenzin Drolma A showed up at our window with tree thoughtful cups of surprise, steaming chai, just as we settled down to Pixar’s “Up,” beaming and cozy in the wake of brilliant accomplishment, to give the widening warmer-upper a thorough test run.
Jhamtse Blanket

Jhamtse Blanket

Jhamtse Blanket

Jhamtse Blanket

Jhamtse Blanket

Jhamtse Blanket
Any sponsors and supporters interested in contributing to the growing web are very much invited to knit or crochet rectangles, approximately 7×9” in size, which can be parceled with sponsor letters, or collected at PO Box 652, Acton, MA 01720 in the interim until a volunteer is able to carry them over.

Thanks, everyone, for all the love and compassion you’ve poured into the project so far! =)


Posted in Daily Life | 3 Comments

Class IX on the Noble Eightfold Path

The first 10 minutes of every day, each class spends with their respective class teacher, reveling in a collective pause for reflection, intention-setting, and general checking-in.

Class IX has been starting off their mornings this week enumerating various elements of Buddhism’s central Noble Eightfold Path, (peppered, please excuse, with a smattering of contagiously misemployed prepositions, but enlightening in content nonetheless!), with which to decorate our classroom walls.


Noble Eightfold Path Wall Poster

Noble Eightfold Path Wall Poster

Noble Eightfold Path Wall Poster

Noble Eightfold Path Wall Poster

Noble Eightfold Path Wall Poster

Noble Eightfold Path Wall Poster

Noble Eightfold Path Wall Poster

Noble Eightfold Path Wall Poster


Posted in Classroom Glimpses | 3 Comments

Class VIII and Some Stellar Presentations

Continuing our consideration of structural violence in education, Class VIII recently paired off to research and report on a handful of alternative educational landscapes, as described in the (fascinating, intricate, broad-minded, and magnificently colorful) children’s book, Going to School in India.

Jhamtse Gatsal Class VIII students


Tenzin Lhadron A and Tenzin Lhadron B tell us about a public government school in the mountains of Ladakh:



“They are learning Alphabet of English (e.g. Y is for yak). The cards help the kids learn new English word by showing them pictures of familiar things. Jigmat watch after of yak…. Ladakh government school is not structural violence because they teach both traditional and English.”

Sangey Ngodup and Sonam Chodron report on a creative village school, detailing a high-intensity parliament-style debate as a hands-on lesson in social studies:


“The goal of this education system is that they are trying to learn how the government works: is it working good or bad…. Knowledge is that they know how the government works and the skills is that they learn acting and talking.”

Tenzin Norbu and Konchok Norbu read about a school in Pondicherry which encourages its students to learn about local livelihoods by personally interviewing fisherman at the seaside:



“Yes [they are happy] because student know about how to write and read and student know about sea.”

Shanti Tamang and Lungta Lhamu explain about a non-profit that provides a weekly meeting space to a handful of street children in Delhi, where the young boys democratically publish their own newspaper:


“The goal of this education system is to write a newspaper such as Wallpaper because with the help of NGO they want to give kids a chance to express themselves…. To write a newspaper and to tell them about their life and how difficult is their life is the kind of knowledge and skill which is considered valuable…. Life of children are preparing for other children not to have difficult life like them which they are having in street right now…. The newspaper will probably help them free in their future.”

Mani Wangmu and Dorjee Wangchu recount the story a tribal community which rejected the government school and manages its own education, sending children to learn from the village elders about their natural environment:




“The student is from the tribe…. Marigan the elder teach them. His is also from same tribe…. They teach themselves….. In future they will be independent because they know what fruit they have to eat, what they have to put if they feel their body pain…. In this school they are preparing to be happy in their future because they can know about jungle more.”

Stay tuned for more as the students begin conducting their own interviews to analyze educational power structures locally!

Posted in Classroom Glimpses | 1 Comment

Interpretations of Helen Keller’s The Story of My Life

Jhamtse Gatsal students

Sumchoo Drolma and Tenzin Drolma A. Photo by Dorjee Norbu


This year, Class X has been enjoying exploring Helen Keller’s poetic and poignant autobiography, The Story of My Life. As we crest the midpoint of the book, the students pause to reflect on its most striking messages and themes.

Tsering Wangmo A:

She wrote this story to tell us or share her emotions, feelings, and her experiences, how does a blind and deaf person face problems without others’ help.

Phurpa Yangzom:

Helen Keller wrote this because she is both deaf and blind. She struggled a lot in her life and she wants to share experiences of her life and if someone is both deaf and blind then how much they get difficulties and face a lot to live. The message is that if both deaf and blind can do it, then why others can’t do because we have both. It also gives us that good relationship between each other and if we face most difficult thing in our life, then we can easily do any problem. There is also room for goodness.

Sumchoo Drolma:

She wrote this story to give courage to the people who give up and the person thinks that they can’t do anything, by giving her example that she is bland and she can do whatever she wants.

Rinchen Tsering:

The messages of Helen Keller’s story is that even if we are born with physical problems, such as blind, deaf, or maybe handicapped, no matter. Always think positive and you can be what you wish to be. Mainly most people give up very quickly. That’s the reason why most people don’t achieve their goals. Even if we got a small problem in our life, we are just afraid to go further and stuck on one place.

Sangey Drolma:

Helen Keller’s story was very sad because she had a very difficult life and she was telling us. In our life, we have many problems and difficulties, but no matter whatever they say. Sometimes people said bad things for others, and then the people give up very easily.

Tsandang Lhamo:

Helen Keller did something good by writing this beautiful story about her life to show a path or way to make our life more meaningful and successful and live as a human even if we are suffering. There is always a solution to overcome any suffering and obstacles.

Namgey Chodron B:

I think she wrote this book because to give us courage and encourage us to develop in life. Even if we are in a dark world, we should never give up in life. The messages are gain knowledge as much as you can. Avoid anger and hate. Be happy. Don’t worry. If there is dark, no matter, anyhow we will get way to overcome the dark. The important themes are love, education, relationships, and to have a teacher.

Dorjee Norbu:

Its important themes are hope has to be; you can do many things that you haven’t thought before or haven’t seen before at all. The impossible can change into the possible things.

Pema Drolma A:

The messages that we get from the story of Helen Keller is never be hopeless. Have faith and courage in yourself. No matter what’s going on with you, you can overcome that suffering and pain, because after every night there is the light of day. Helen Keller is a girl with lots of problems with hearing, speaking, and seeing, but with a strong desire and hard work she did something that was beyond her capability, but giving us an important message that nothing is impossible if you don’t give up.

The themes of this book/story are from feelings of neglect, suffering, and rejection to happiness, adventure, and helping others. To have courage, do hard work, and especially be a good companion like Miss Sullivan who can understand us the way we are, not the way they are.

Tenzin Drolma A:

The themes of all the story seem to be barriers and love. The message of the story seems to be that there is always a way to overcome the problems. She gives the confidence to overcome any problems by showing her examples.

Namgey Chodron A:

She wrote this story to give a hope. The theme of this story is knowledge can give us love, light and vision and knowledge is the weapon to get rid of all the difficulties.

Tsewang Lhamo:

She is telling that all the great men of the world are not born with much a talented mind or being a great man. They become great men because of their dedication and hard work. The message she gives to us is that that knowledge isn’t about reading books and how knowledge can change our life.

Posted in Classroom Glimpses | 4 Comments

Class 8 Highlights Power Structures in Education

Class 8 begins an exciting new unit this week, delving into structural violence in institutional education.

Over the course of three days, we kicked off our exploration with an extended airing of the poignant documentary “Schooling the World,” which critically examines the resounding cultural implications of the introduction of Western classroom-centric education in the traditionally isolated, agrarian society of Ladakh.

After ample pauses for discussion and reflection, the group collaborated on a structural violence analysis of the material they witnessed in the film:

student analysis
student analysis
Next week we continue the investigation, considering alternative educational initiatives in other pockets of the country, before getting our fingernails dirty with interviews and field research tackling the topic in our own neck of the woods. Stay tuned for more soon!

Posted in Classroom Glimpses | 3 Comments

Some Nifty Sunday Afternoon Photos

…of a few otherwise overlooked campus nooks and crannies, by Tenzin Norbu (Class 8) and company.
sunday afternoon photos of JGCC

sunday afternoon photos of JGCC

sunday afternoon photos of JGCC

sunday afternoon photos of JGCC

sunday afternoon photos of JGCC

sunday afternoon photos of JGCC

sunday afternoon photos of JGCC

sunday afternoon photos of JGCC

Posted in Straight From the Students | 9 Comments

Class 9 Kicks off the Week

photo of a tree reflected in water=

His Holiness the Dalai Lama shares a prayer:

May I become at all times, both now and forever
A protector for those without protection
A guide for those who have lost their way
A ship for those with oceans to cross
A bridge for those with rivers to cross
A sanctuary for those in danger
A lamp for those without light
A place of refuge for those who lack shelter
And a servant to all in need


Class IX responds:

by Tenzin Drolma B

I will be a dictionary for learner,
Oxygen for suffocationer,
Shelter for beggar.

by Dorjee Chozom

My goal is I will become a tree, who needs shelter,
I will be a sun rays, people who are in the dark place.
I will be water, who are in thirsty.
I will be a home people who have no shelter to live.
I will be the book, people who are not getting education.

Posted in Classroom Glimpses | 2 Comments

And Now for our Feature Presentation

jgcc film crew
A throwback to one of my favorite episodes of last year (feel free to skip ahead to the movie, which speaks for itself, but should you find yourself curious as to the riveting backstory, read on):
Last November, the Middle School English classes were tasked with coming up with a short presentation for the rest of the school about our work so far in the year.

Class 8 expertly wove together a PowerPoint and drama relating poignant insights and pressing questions regarding their exploration of culture and education. Class 6 smoothly introduced their work about the meaning of home, explaining about the looming rising sea levels confronting the community on the Cartaret Islands.

Class 7, on the other hand, was a class infamously divided into gendered cliques, notorious for their struggle to collaborate productively. Class projects had consistently disintegrated into one group or the other dominating, while other students fiddled on the fringes or duplicated effort in parallel. We had had numerous conversations on the issue, focusing primarily on their self-evaluation of their group work process and secondarily on the product that resulted, which usually suffered for its lack of unity and responsive cooperation.

The first few days of this particular challenge proved no different. As I bit my tongue and wrestled to stay in the corner even as whole class periods spiraled into malfunction, hoping to allow them the opportunity to rise to the occasion of this just-out-of-their-reach puzzle, I watched different facets of the class respectively take over or disengage. We’d begin each next session with a familiar reflection: “How well do you think we met our group work goals yesterday? Was everybody involved? Did we respect each other? Did we create one cohesive product?”

Then one tired afternoon, the class gathered around the whiteboard on the far edge of the field, brainstorming around their latest idea: to make a movie (fascinated as they always are with the chance to manipulate new technology). They ripped the marker from each other’s hands, working out roles and characters. The marvelous part was that they began debating with each other: a little more roughly than I hoped they would learn to, but nonetheless, fabulously, pushing back against each other. This meant they were listening and responding to their classmates’ ideas. In this heated step of the process is where I think the project was really, finally born, where their best ideas took shape, the brainchildren of various and diverse voices.

As they got deeper into the project in the following days, the class absolutely bloomed. Direct attention to their group work process took a backseat to their excitement about the task itself. They borrowed my camera and (phenomenally resourcefully) the music-rich cell phone of another teacher during their lunch periods and met up of their own accord to film the opening scenes you’re about to enjoy. As I shadowed them hither and yon during English period proper, I watched Dorjee Wangchuk work the camera, and Sonam operate as sound technician, as they repeatedly counted down to engage “play” and “record” in tandem. Classmates on the sidelines shouted suggestions between takes, pointed but constructive, and I literally only sat and watched as this drama unfolded, totally organized, all on its own; I was the only obsolete observer out of the communicative loop, my expert guidance not only rendered extraneous but my very presence as good as forgotten in the excitement and fervor of their independent ingenuity (Tsering Lhadron A turned up at the driveway, artfully smeared by Lungta with charcoal she had manifested from who knows where, as her classmates similarly appeared, clad in their own respective costumes, laden with borrowed blankets and all their friends’ shoes). In short, it was a joy to witness.

So, I’ll end by introducing this film the same way I did before its premiere at the English Performance last November: I’m thrilled by this product, meticulously directed and crafted, resonant in its message of teamwork and care, but most of all I am proud of this group for the process behind this masterpiece—the engagement, listening, leadership and cooperation that they enacted in pulling this together, together—which I think resounds in every aspect their final result.

(The technical additions of iMovie, entirely selected and applied by the half of the class that huddled around my room, soon erupting in delighted giggles, the night they finished filming, also don’t detract from the narrative’s lively and creative spirit.)


link to a video on YouTube by Jhamtse Gatsal's Class VII

Posted in Classroom Glimpses | 2 Comments

Class X Confronts Gender in Film

Class X indulged in a diversion from (or expansion upon) our highly-structured syllabus of government-mandated stories and poems last week to revisit gender roles, as represented in our texts and leading into some pretty interesting evaluation of gender in the wider media.

In one particular period, we enjoyed Colin Stokes’s TED Talk, “How Movies Teach Manhood,” about the portrayals of men as dominant characters in children’s movies, not only jeopardizing young girls in their internalization of their marginal roles, but propagating a culture in which boys are taught to overcome obstacles with force and collect their due rewards. We followed this up with a critical examination of Bollywood movie posters, students noting the size, stance, and centrality of different characters in the advertisements. Finally, we discussed the emergent icon of the Strong Female Character with Nothing to Do—a narrative phenomenon evolving as producers respond to criticism of the film industry’s flimsy, one-dimensional female characters. Yet presently, though many strong and interesting female characters show up on screen, they remain trivial to the plot and wholly supportive to the male protagonist’s quest and development.

By the end of class, students were confidently and with nuance calling out this insubstantial female participation and the repetitive, singular depictions of men and women in their favorite familiar films. Check out poignant end-of-class reflections from a few of the students below!
written student reflection

Tsandang Lhamo

written student reflection

Pema Drolma A

written student reflection

Dorjee Norbu

written student reflection

Kelsang Yudron

Posted in Classroom Glimpses | 2 Comments