A Meditation on Making Mistakes

The 2015-16 academic year is now an exciting (and busy!) month and a half underway.

Here is an overdue nugget of wisdom from one of the then-rising (now substantially risen) sixth graders, written as an end-of-class reflection on our first day back, after the group brainstormed their goals and classroom norms for the coming year.

written student reflection

Posted in Classroom Glimpses | 3 Comments

Earthen Building Campaign



I’m so happy to read that Jhamtse Gatsal is broadening its experiential learning program. I love when perfect segues present themselves and I don’t have to come up with conceptual contortions to bring the conversation around to what I want to talk about; usually me and what I’m up to.

At the moment I’m gearing up to bring a big experiential learning project to the community.

My name is Kate, some of you may remember (here and here) that I came to Gatsal in the spring of 2013 to build a cob (earthen) oven. I admit that an oven is not the most practical appliance for a culture with no culinary tradition of baking. Fortunately, Gen la is a man of great vision and discernment. He recognized that cob could have other more sensible uses such as cheap, sustainable and beautiful housing.

He has invited House Alive, one of the most esteemed natural building teaching organizations in the States (and me) to come to Gatsal to teach the community how to build housing with cob. We’ll bring 8 apprentices from the States and Canada who’s fees will pay for our transportation and lodging at the community. We’ll all learn to build a lovely small house complete with plumbing and electric from ground up beginning Nov. 1st and ending Dec. 25th. Send positive vibes for mild weather, everyone!

We’d also like to pay some of the staff carpenters to work with us and raise seed money so that the community will have both the resources and know how to build for themselves when we go. To that end, I’ve launched a crowd sourced fund raising campaign.

I know that one of Gen la’s goal’s for the community is to become self reliant. Building with cob, made from the earth below their feet, not only brings Jhamtse Gatsal within grasping distance of that objective but also expands the community so that more needy kids can come to live in the Garden of Love and Compassion.

Please consider contributing if you can and share the campaign with your friends either way. Thanks.
Read more about it, and help us reach our goal on INDIGOGO

**Please note! Indiegogo (our fundraising platform) only accepts US currency. If you are donating outside the US, your credit card company will do the conversion but may charge a fee for the service. You should check with your card company before donating. To avoid the possibility of fees, you can contribute directly through the Jhamtse website, with a note that your donation is for the Earthen Building Campaign.

Posted in Improvements | 2 Comments

Experiential Education Program Update

What is experiential education? Our program is based on an education methodology which integrates the classroom with the workplace. We believe that EE is learning that occurs through active involvement in what is being studied in the classroom as well as what is relevant to our local environment. Jhamtse Gatsal has expanded its experiential education program. We have separated our students into the following groups: Waste Management, Solar & Electricity, Sewing, Weaving, Cooking, Gardening and Carpentry. The goal of our program is to provide for the educational and career development of the student.
JGCC Experiential Ed

JGCC Experiential Ed

JGCC Experiential Ed

JGCC Experiential Ed

JGCC Experiential Ed

JGCC Experiential Ed

JGCC Experiential Ed

JGCC Experiential Ed

JGCC Experiential Ed

JGCC Experiential Ed

JGCC Experiential Ed

JGCC Experiential Ed

JGCC Experiential Ed

Posted in Education, Experiential Education | 3 Comments

“Gone are the days of bookish knowledge”

Class VIII closes out the year with a collaborative writing project; pulling on our various reflections about education and the definitions of meaningful knowledge, and applying them to the form of the manifesto, the students set intentions and declare motivations as a team of fellow learners as we move forward into their grade 9.



class eight's manifesto about education
class eight's manifesto about education

Posted in Classroom Glimpses | 2 Comments

Class VII Creative Writing: Story About Swimming Pool

The fifth in our series of awesome writing, inspired by some award-winning photos of 2014.


photo of people in a swimming pool

image source: BuzzFeed.com

Story About Swimming Pool

by Dorjee Wangchu

Once upon a time in America there was a swimming pool made by a great scientist and full of hot water. All the rich men came to swim. They liked to swim there because they had hot water in the swimming pool. The smoke or gas was coming from that swimming pool. They felt very happy. They enjoyed in this swimming pool.

People below 15 years could not go to this swimming pool because they would be a risk. They couldn’t swim and sometimes if they swam in that pool a big man or tall person might fall above that child and if they didn’t stand up very quickly, then the water would go inside her or his mouth and the person would die and the parents would be very sad. In this swimming pool they didn’t get hurt from a long time.

They enjoyed very much and they put music and they danced in the water but they didn’t play football or volleyball in that swimming pool because if the ball went inside the pipe it could block or damage the swimming pool.

All the people were swimming at night because the lights were on. The boy wanted to go there but the guard said, “No, you cannot go there.” The boy felt very sad and he thought he would study.

He studied very much and he became a great scientist and he made a pool for the little kids and he solved the problem of every poor and small child who wanted to swim. He got an award for solving the problem and working on hot water’s swimming pool. At last he named his swimming pool as Children’s Swimming Pool.

Posted in Classroom Glimpses | 2 Comments

Class VII Creative Writing: Dream of Mother Deer

The fourth in our series of awesome writing, inspired by some award-winning photos of 2014.


photo of a deer

image source: BuzzFeed.com

Dream of Mother Deer!

by Tenzin Lhadron ‘B’

Long ago in the forest the grasses were dry, land was rock, and the trees were thorny. There was one deer family. They were very wise and they thought about flowers around their home and they also imagined about green grass, tall trees, and blue flowers growing near the house. Mother deer liked blue flowers and green grasses and tall beautiful trees. She always imagined that, One day I will be surrounded by blue flowers and green soft grasses around me. There will be tall shining trees.

One day the deer family thought, “We will plant some blue flowers and soft green grasses near our house.” That night, the deer family began to plant flowers and soft green grasses. When the deer family was planting flowers, the moon light was there and they were talking to each other about how to plant.

Mother deer taught their members. “First we have to dig the soil and put the seed inside and pour some water,” she taught.

The baby deer said, “Cool! Exciting!”

There were horrible sounds when they were planting. Owls, parrots, and different types of birds were making terrible sounds. The small deer girl was scared by she was acting brave and mother deer was impressed.

In the morning, mother deer woke up and looked out of the window. It was amazing! She cheered very loudly and father deer, girl deer, and boy deer woke up very curiously. They all said together at the same time, “What’s wrong, mother deer?” Mother deer was so amazed that she couldn’t say a single word. They all looked out of the window and the yard was very, very beautiful.

Their house was surrounded by blue shining flowers, green soft grasses, tall beautiful trees and birds. Butterflies and bees were drinking the juice of flowers.

Mother deer’s dream had come true. Shew as very happy and she went outside and tasted the grass and it was so tasty. She kissed the flowers and talked to the butterflies and she sang a song. She always took care of flowers, grasses, and trees; she put water and she cared as her own baby. One day while she was watering the flowers and singing a song, one man came and took a photo of her. He showed it to people and it was very famous and the government gave an award to the deer family and to the man.


Posted in Classroom Glimpses | 3 Comments

Class VII Creative Writing: Story of the Five Sisters

The third in our series of awesome writing, inspired by some award-winning photos of 2014.


photo of beautiful flowers in a forest

image source: BuzzFeed.com

Story of the Five Sisters

by Lungta Lhamu

Once there were five sisters. The sisters were very beautiful and their names were Sonam, Chodron, Tenzin, Lungta, and Mani. Sonam was very scared. Chodron was very cute like a baby rabbit. Tenzin was very funny. Lungta was very talented and Mani was very wise and friendly to all. The five sisters used to live in a forest which was very clean and beautiful. In the middle of that forest there was one big tree. In that big tree the five sisters used to live. Under that tree there were so many white and purple flowers which smelled like chocolate.

One day a group of men came to the forest. When the group of men saw a very beautiful place, their mind became very fresh and felt very cool. The group of men heard a beautiful song sung by the five sisters. The music sounded like Sherya Ghosal’s soft voice. They reached the place where the sound was coming from. While the group of men were going, they cut down all the beautiful flowers because they way to go. The group of men sat under the tree and the group of men were very silent because they thought that if they would make noise then the five sisters would run away. At night the group of men slept under that tree.

At morning, the five sisters noticed that there was no light and all was very cloudy. They were very worried. Suddenly Sonam (the youngest one) noticed that a group of men were sleeping there. The five sisters were very scared. Suddenly, they remembered a spell given by a witch, that they will die together when a group of men will come there and they will be reborn as fairies so they can make the place very beautiful again. The five sisters jumped from the tree which was very big with lots of branches and leaves and they died together in that place. The group of men were very sad to see the five sisters were dead. They buried them under that tree.

Six years later, the forest became very thick and ugly, but the tree was still beautiful because the five beautiful sisters were buried there. The five sisters were reborn as fairies and made the forest magic beautiful and planted lots and lots of flowers which were in white and purple colour. To grow a flower it took thousands and thousands of years to make it like it was before. After thousands and thousands of years they were happy to see their forest again beautiful. The forest was looking very similar to before. But in that forest there was a little bit change. The forest was looking like all the surroundings were covered by clouds and flowers and trees were again in white and purple colour. It was miraculous and looked like the place of heaven. They lived happily ever after and the forest stood magic and beautiful forever.

Posted in Classroom Glimpses | 2 Comments

Class VII Creative Writing: About a Poor Family

Here is the second in our series of awesome writing, inspired by some award-winning photos of 2014.


photo of a young monk reading in a beam of sunlight

image source: BuzzFeed.com

About a Poor Family

by Sonam Chodron

Once upon a time in a small village there lived a poor family with a father, mother, and their daughter. The daughter’s name was Sonam. Sonam was such a talented girl, kind and hardworking like Leki Norbu, and also she knew how to read the alphabet. Her friend used to teach some letters to Sonam. So she knew the alphabet. Inside Sonam’s house, it was too dark even during the day also. Sonam’s house had a hole in the roof and from the hole, sun appeared and sometimes she used to red by using the sunlight. At 7 o’clock the sunrise came and Sonam felt happy and also she felt nice.

One day Sonam’s mother said to Sonam’s father, “Our daughter Sonam is such a talented girl and also a kind and hardworking girl. We will send her to a good school and then it will be good.”

Her father said, “From where will we take so much money?”

Her mother thought for a long time and she got an idea and she said, “I will work in a garden and you can make pots. I will sell the vegetables and you can sell the pots. From that way, we will get money then we will give money for school fees.”

They started to do work. The mother worked on her garden and Sonam’s father started to make pots. First Sonam’s father brought a wheel and clay and he started making pots and then fast Sonam’s mother dug a soil. After that, she started to put seeds in the soil. Sonam’s father and mother did hard work and also it was so hard to work. After a few days, Sonam’s father had done six thousand pots. He worked night and day also and also in the garden the vegetables had grown very big and they looked very green because the mother worked so hard. Then they started to sell the pots and vegetables. So many people came to buy vegetables and pots. They earned so much money. After that Sonam’s father and mother decided to end Sonam to a school. They sent Sonam to a school.

When Sonam came first time to school, she saw a big building and mountains and so many students and staffs. Sonam was a new student so she felt shy because she came for the first time in a school. One girl came near Sonam. She said, “Hello! My name is Tenzin and I am from Bhutan.” She asked her, “What is your name and where did you come from?”

Sonam said, “My name is Sonam and I came from a small village named Kharteng,” and they shook their hands and they two became good friends.

In the class, Lungta teacher always used to say that Sonam was a very talented and kind girl. Lungta always saw that Sonam was helping the students and also teacher. So she felt nice. One day Lungta wrote a letter to Sonam’s parents, because she liked Sonam.


Dear Sonam’s father and mother,

I am Sonam’s teacher and I will tell you that Sonam is very good in education and also she is friendly with all students. I love her so much. She is a good student. I have never seen a student like Sonam. I think when Sonam grows up she will become a good person. You do not need to be worried about her. I will look after her.

-Sonam’s teacher Lungta

When Sonam’s father and mother got the letter, her mother told Sonam’s old friend to read the letter and Sonam’s friend read the letter. When her father and mother heard, happy tears came up on the mother’s eyes.

A few days later all the students grew up. Sonam became a good person and a kind person and also because of being a kind and good person she became a famous person and also she got a good job as a doctor. She used to help poor people. If she saw poor people were sick, she used to bring her or him to the hospital and she used to give medicine. From that way, Sonam got a prize and also she became a famous and very god doctor. Whenever she got money, she used to send it for her father and mother. Sonam and her father and mother lived happily forever.

Posted in Classroom Glimpses | 2 Comments

Class VII Creative Writing: About the Parrots’ Home

Class VII has been working recently on creative writing: specifically, giving structuring their stories around central conflict and narrative arc, and enriching them with detail, dialogue, the five senses, and simile. Here is the first in a short series of awesome writing, inspired by some award-winning photos of 2014.


photo of parrots flying over a graveyard

image source: BuzzFeed.com

About the Parrots’ Home

by Shanti Tamang

Once there was a group of parrots. They were flying to find their home. At that time they had seen many houses and trees but the houses were not looking beautiful and clean. All trees were brown and there were no leaves at the trees.

The parrots did not like that place because it was not green and beautiful. The place was full of houses and graveyards and also the clouds were black and cloudy.

From that place they flew and flew. They did not find any place that they wanted to make their home and lived forever.

But finally they were flying to make their own home. One of them, the little baby, saw the place as fully covered by green trees and beautiful flowers. She said, “Look there are trees and beautiful flowers over there.”

When the group of parrots looked they said, “It is enough place to make our home.” They all landed there and they looked at all the place. There was also a waterfall and many birds and animals.

They all lived as a family. Finally, one parrot said, “This place is very joyful and beautiful.” All the birds and animals lived as a family. They all lived their house in that place and they also joined that family like Jhamtse Gatsal School.

They all loved each other and cared for each other and they lived very happily as a community of birds and animals.

Posted in Classroom Glimpses | 2 Comments

Class IX on Shakespeare’s “The Seven Ages”

A Monpa grandmother

Class IX’s syllabus, unfortunately, lacks the flexibility of the other grades’ as our studies are dictated so directly by the requirements of the biannual national exams. This means that our texts of study are strictly externally prescribed, but we are lucky in that the freedom remains ours as to how we engage with the given texts.

Lately, we’ve been digging into Shakespeare’s classic monologue from “As You Like It,” in which he lays out the seven ages he believes characteristic of all men: infant, schoolboy, lover, soldier, judge, slippered pantaloon, and the “second childishness” of decrepit old age.

As we’ve worked to pick apart and understand the text on its own terms, we’ve also been working to develop our skills of critical analysis—encouraging each other to form our own opinions about whatever work we take in—and of sharing our ideas in a well-organized, thoroughly-evidenced way.

Below check out some of the students’ original poems about their own categorizations of the stages of life, followed by the products of their most recent exercise in argumentative paragraphs.

Namgey Chodron ‘A’

All the people have two stages
First the born, second the death
No one can’t run away
From this two stages.
They are always with us.
They are best friend of us.

Every single person face this age
Even a small animal too.
Every work which we do
Will between these two stage.
They are the boundary of
Our people’s life.
Which stay first and last.

Tsewang Lhamu

“Three Ages”

One creature is early waiting to see the world.
There is someone who kindly give birth to a young one.
That creature cries sometime attracts mother looks on her/him
gives happiness of enjoyness to man.

A child is going to school with her/his mom.
Learns a new things
and is surrounded by knowledge
goes with their friend and
enjoy with their friend.

Becomes a knowledgeable person
decides what to do
seeks for what is good and bad
runs their life by their own saving or hard work
stand for their own self defense.

Tsering Wangmo ‘A’

All the men and women
start their life with others care;
can’t work by themself,
can’t think what’s right or what’s wrong

Then the time of self care,
know what to do, can judge what’s right
collect the knowledge and use it
start to get worries of our own life.

The last thing of the life
starts to be like baby
not strong thinkings and works
always depend on others
can’t do it by ourself.

Tenzin Drolma ‘A’

Comes with an empty mind
in a world of everyone strange
started to observe
and begin to put in action
A thinker of the present
doesn’t matter of past and future
Then the time of prone
in a way with two road.
A brain full of inspiration
A time to be responsible.
After that a great burden carrier
a time to stand on oneself’s foot
A protector and a fighter
Now the time comes to
share more and judging capability
Then the time of bending.

Rinchen Lhamu

In my view the most important part in our life is that stage of a schoolboy. In the time of the schoolboy, we start to learn new things in our lives and try to see what is in this big world. Life as a schoolboy is very different than life in the other ages. We are very curious to do anything and curious to see things. We are enjoying time with friends and sharing things with friends. At the time of a schoolboy, our body is very active and fresh. We are doing basic things in life to become good in the future and starting to make a path in our life. In the life of a schoolboy, we play many games and try to do differently than before. School life is a golden life where we learn many things and our most active day.

Dorjee Norbu

From the poem “The Seven Ages,” the fifth stage is the most respectable because the poem says that at this stage he has seen the world all around him, what is the good and bad. He has “modern” example that he is made “full of wise” (at line 18 of poem: “Full of wise saws and modern instances”) and saying to his or her families. At the stage of soldier and other three stages, he has seen that the world is evil and the world wise people. He is capable to figure out the right things and wrong things. Stages six and seven are not even more wise because they have kept doing but the world is not changing. They are tired of doing wise things and also they have forgotten some wise they might do so. I respect the pantaloons and second childishness, but I respect more to the justice. Thus, the fifth stage is the most respectable for me.

Kelsang Yudron

The baby is the starting point of all seven stages like in the poem the first stage is a “mewling and puking” baby. Also the baby is the most respectable because all the stages are interconnected. If the baby is not alive or not born then anyone can’t enter through a second stage. That is why Shakespeare wrote the first stage as a baby, second as a schoolboy, then a lover, a soldier, a justice, a pantaloon and the second childishness. By not stepping on a first stair, we can’t step on a second stair.

Posted in Classroom Glimpses | 2 Comments

“Being Monpa is Special for Me”

Calling back upon our theme of structural violence, Class VII has recently been delving into learning about different forms of ethnic discrimination.

We began with some news articles about trends and instances of discrimination in Indian cities against tribal minorities and citizens from the Northeast. We were lucky to bring this topic to life and to immediate personal relevance by interviewing a remarkable guest speaker: everyone’s incredible big sister Maling Jangmo, who recently left the community to study at college in Delhi but whom we were lucky to welcome home for vacation over New Year’s. She is an amazing role model for her younger brothers and sisters: thoughtful, articulate, honest, kind, humble, confident and daring, who has grown into herself so strikingly this year especially, pioneering new territory as our first graduate making her way in the broader world. She poignantly and provocatively reflected on her experiences living in a major Indian city: the similarities and differences between life here and there, insightfully commenting also on the intersectionality of racism and sexism. It was beautiful to see how deeply the students respect and look up to this awesome young woman; I have never seen this classroom so profoundly attentive. You could have heard a pin drop at any moment throughout the hour. The typically more distractible students watched her with awe-struck wide eyes, and everybody peppered her with pressing questions.

We followed up this issue-centered introduction with investigation into various initiatives aiming to combat injustice and empower the marginalized, and finally concluded our unit with personal reflection about the strengths and assets that come with Monpa identity.

Here are the students’ stunning responses:
Dorjee Wangchu

Dorjee Wangchu

Dorjee Wangchu

Dorjee Wangchu

Konchok Norbu

Konchok Norbu

Konchok Norbu

Konchok Norbu

Konchok Norbu

Konchok Norbu

Lungta Lhamu

Lungta Lhamu

Mani Wangmu

Mani Wangmu

Sonam Chodron

Sonam Chodron

Sangey Ngodup

Sangey Ngodup

Sangey Ngodup

Sangey Ngodup


Tenzin Lhadron 'A'

Tenzin Lhadron ‘A’

Tenzin Lhadron 'A'

Tenzin Lhadron ‘A’

Tenzin Lhadron 'B'

Tenzin Lhadron ‘B’

Tenzin Lhadron 'B'

Tenzin Lhadron ‘B’

Posted in Classroom Glimpses, Culture | 2 Comments

Song of the Moon: A Poem

Class IX recently enjoyed exploring Kahlil Gibran’s “Song of the Rain.” Below, savor an equally artful and poignant interpretation by our very own Pema Drolma ‘A:’
Song of the Moon

Photo by Volunteer Tori


Song of the Moon

by Pema Drolma ‘A’


I am a non-luminous clock
All alone in the busy sky
I am a circular mirror
Which reflects the light of emotions

When the whole world sleeps
I stay awake and wish
Good night with full of love
But only the sensitive can understand

I always want to appear
But my way is blocked with cloud
Which makes me disappear
Sadly, I can’t come regularly

I am like a bodyguard
Protecting the whole world
From the great darkness
In the absence of sun

I see everything going on
Rich ones enjoying their power
Poor family sleeping empty stomachs
Which breaks my heart apart.


Posted in Straight From the Students | 6 Comments

“Opportunity is like a river: When a river flows down, it never flows back.”

Happy New Year! Still! Continuing our brief unit on the form of the manifesto, Class VIII recently applied their artistry and insight to the challenge of crafting and communicating their own statements of intention. Check out the striking products of their reflection below!












Posted in Classroom Glimpses | 4 Comments

Sports and Cultural Week!

JGCC Sports and Cultural Week 2014
In early December, Jhamtse Gatsal celebrated its first (annual, if I may offer a humble but I think not unfounded forecast) Sports and Cultural Week.

The school was divided into three teams, a schedule of challenges publicized, and the students left with great liberty, the weekend, and to their own devices to prepare their groups for the whirlwind ahead. Monday and Tuesday consisted of sports events, ranging from heated volleyball competitions for the upper school, to marble-in-spoon races for the youngest participants, punctuated by high-profile relay races and tug of war games that called for inter-age cooperation. Wednesday we celebrated the anniversary of the Dalai Lama’s receipt of the Nobel Peace Prize with traditional dance performances in the morning, and then solo and group song and dance routines coordinated entirely by the students debuted after dinner. Teke, office manager, Gen Lham Dorjee, traditional dance teacher and construction manager, and Sharda, kitchen staff—all widely recognized as the campus’ expert dancers every time we strike up a party—played the commentating judges with great flair. Thursday offered the students the chance to express themselves in varied essays, poetry, quiz bowl trivia, and visual art.

At our closing ceremony, awards were bestowed: recognizing outstanding achievement in each category, for teamwork, cheering, and sportsmanship, and based on overall position—the multitudinous trophies crafted of tree branches with love by Lista (volunteer), Liza (Social Studies teacher), and masterful carpenter Pradeep, each acknowledgement accepted and applauded with immeasurable exuberance.

One of the highlights of the week was watching every student have a chance to shine in their diverse areas of talent—from Tsangpa Tashi, Class IV, rocking his solo dance to the older students absolutely beast at the gentle, generous teamwork and communication necessary to take down a volleyball team thrown together of campus adults; witnessing the kids discover yet hidden talent—as many of the girls at first felt shy to try their hands and high and long jump but absolutely rocked it, to the soundtrack of the entire community cheering them on from the sidelines; and seeing how adeptly the students soared with the independence and leadership. Though we’d assigned staff members to mentor and assist each team, we were, quite frankly, useless next to their creative genius, supportive social grace, and logistical coordination.

In short, the week was a roaring success, and a heavily-cited highlight of the year among the student body.

Below, enjoy a plethora of highly spirited pictures from the (exorbitantly photogenic) field events, credit primarily to seventh grader Sangey Ngodup and volunteers Mark and Lista.
JGCC Sports and Cultural Week 2014

Opening assembly.

JGCC Sports and Cultural Week 2014

Team Monjong.

JGCC Sports and Cultural Week 2014

Team Lhaksam.

JGCC Sports and Cultural Week 2014

Team Just Do It Dil Se! (from the heart)

JGCC Sports and Cultural Week 2014

Tashi Phuntsok leads his team into battle.

JGCC Sports and Cultural Week 2014

Gen Lobsang, Maling Yangchen, Sangey Lhazom, Pema Drolma B, and others of Dil Se watch from the sidelines.

JGCC Sports and Cultural Week 2014

The younger students compete to see who can keep their balloon intact the longest.

JGCC Sports and Cultural Week 2014

Dil Se put their heads together.

JGCC Sports and Cultural Week 2014

Monjong celebrate a victory.

JGCC Sports and Cultural Week 2014

Preschooler Lobsang Tsering looks on some kind of befuddlement.

JGCC Sports and Cultural Week 2014

Dorjee Chozom waits by the finish line.

JGCC Sports and Cultural Week 2014

Dorjee Norbu at the long jump.

JGCC Sports and Cultural Week 2014

Sonam Chodron flies through the air.

JGCC Sports and Cultural Week 2014

Girls’ volleyball competition.

JGCC Sports and Cultural Week 2014

Driver Dorjee cheers the players on.

JGCC Sports and Cultural Week 2014

Amala Yangzom and Lungta Sangmu smile on the sidelines.

JGCC Sports and Cultural Week 2014

Volunteer Andrea with Kunsang Drolma, waiting for the dance performances to begin.

JGCC Sports and Cultural Week 2014

Dargey Phuntsok, Tenzin Norbu, Rinchen Tsering, Langa Tsering, and Kangyur Sangpo in the audience of the trivia competition.

JGCC Sports and Cultural Week 2014

Monjong being stoked about something.

JGCC Sports and Cultural Week 2014

Maling Tashi and Sanjay Kumar entertain quiet focus amid the fray.

JGCC Sports and Cultural Week 2014

Amala Soomcho with campus toddler (and celebrity) Bhai.

JGCC Sports and Cultural Week 2014

Tenzin Tashi, decked out and ready for the day.

JGCC Sports and Cultural Week 2014

Lobsang Tharpa, looking fierce.

JGCC Sports and Cultural Week 2014

Rinchen Tsering and Langa Tsering, showing off their Lhaksam pride.

JGCC Sports and Cultural Week 2014

Sanjay Kumar and Sandy, bridging team divisions.

JGCC Sports and Cultural Week 2014

Phurpa Yangzom, in Lhaksam red.

JGCC Sports and Cultural Week 2014

Nima Wangchu offers an overjoyed Tsering Deki a ride on his shoulders.

JGCC Sports and Cultural Week 2014

Genla stands proudly by an assembly to close out the week.

JGCC Sports and Cultural Week 2014

Tsering Chodron, Class VI, remembers the experience fondly in her end-of-year letter to her future self.

JGCC Sports and Cultural Week 2014

Yeshi Lhamu, Class VI, remembers the experience fondly in her end-of-year letter to her future self.

Posted in Events | 6 Comments

Descriptive Writing: Bonfire Senses

New Year's bonfire, JGCC

Photo by Volunteer Leah Wood

The budding novelists of Class VII have been most recently equipping their creative writing toolboxes with practice observing and enunciating detail of the five senses. Check out below their collaborative description of our New Year’s Eve bonfire!


Lungta Lhamu: “I see fire was burning very slowly but was very red and heat. I see people dancing, joking, sleeping, and laughing.”


Sonam Chodron: “What I hear is Ma’am Gombu Lhamu saying that ‘Come, we will dance.’”

Tenzin Lhadron A: “I hear music and also I hear steps and washing utensils and hear people talking.”


Konchok Norbu: “I taste sweet because they bring tea.”


Sangey Ngodup: “I smell like today is very good food is making in kitchen.”

Mani Wangmu: “I smell ginger and food.”

Tenzin Norbu: “I smell fire the wood in outside.”

Tenzin Lhadron B: “I smell fire, food, and dusty soil.”


Shanti Tamang: “I feel that fire was so hot that night and air was so cold at that night.”

Dorjee Wangchu: “I feel very hot and warm and I feel that I’m is in heaven.”

Posted in Classroom Glimpses, Education | Comments Off on Descriptive Writing: Bonfire Senses

A Manifesto New Year

Class VIII is ringing in 2015 with a brief study of the literary form of the manifesto: essentially, any declaration by a person or group about the values, beliefs, and intentions guiding the way one lives their life.

Here are a few examples, as well as anonymous responses elicited in a museum walk opener activity.

The Holstee Manifesto

The Holstee Manifesto

image source: holstee.com

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Manifesto on Creativity by Frederic Terral

Frederic Terral

Frederic Terral

credit: Frederic Terrall

Terrall response #1

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Lyrics to “Another Day” from the Broadway musical Rent

The heart may freeze or it can burn
The pain will ease if I can learn

There is no future
There is no past
I live each moment as my last

There’s only us
There’s only this
Forget regret
Or life is yours to miss.
No other road
No other way
No day but today

There’s only yes
Only tonight
We must let go
To know what’s right
No other course
No other way
No day but today

I can’t control
My destiny
I trust my soul
My only goal
is just to be

There’s only now
There’s only here
Give in to love
Or live in fear
No other path
No other way
No day but today

Rent response #1

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Wishing you a vibrant and inspired new year!

Posted in Education | 1 Comment

Happy New Year!

On New Year’s Eve, Class VI spent some a reflective, introspective English period writing letters to their future selves. Here are some of their favorite aspects of 2014 and hopes for the year to come.

Happy New Year from JGCC

Happy New Year from JGCC
Happy New Year from JGCC
Happy New Year from JGCC

Posted in Straight From the Students | 1 Comment

Season’s Greetings!

In truest Jhamtse ultimately celebratory fashion, all the children of Jhamtse Gatsal (both student and staff) had a festive Christmas extravaganza last week.

We spent Christmas Eveternoon painting pictures, pinecones, and everything in between (hands… desks… the math classroom will never be the same again. but is probably better off for it) sucker-punching pigment from every corner of the rainbow.

Christmas crafting at Jhamtse Gatsal

Tsangpa Tashi, artist in residence.

Christmas crafting at Jhamtse Gatsal

Tashi Drolma in deep focus.

Christmas crafting at Jhamtse Gatsal

Sanjay Kumar, challenging convention.

Christmas crafting at Jhamtse Gatsal

Pema Drolma B paints a pinecone.

Christmas crafting at Jhamtse Gatsal

Lungta Sangmu shows off her masterpiece.

Christmas crafting at Jhamtse Gatsal

Kunsang Drolma, colorful and exuberant.

After dinner, our dearly adored carpenter Pradeep donned the campus’ collective repertoire of cherry-red apparel, in addition to some resourcefully fashioned medical cotton, and the kids went crazy as he rode in on the school’s new truck, our beloved driver Dorjee blinking all the lights and sounding the most melodic of the horns dozen plus settings. We gathered around the tree, where the staff caroled and Pradeep gave out candies and oranges.

The evening closed in quiet, peaceful contrast, stuffed surprise socks, on loan from the amalas, hanging in the subtle blink of the repurposed Diwali lights while the kiddies themselves were busy hosting sugarplum visions.

Christmas crafting at Jhamtse Gatsal

Everyone gathered around the well-decorated tree.

Christmas crafting at Jhamtse Gatsal

A rare moment with, in fact, no stirring creatures.

Wishing you all holidays filled with much laughter, love, and joyful coming together!

~Sandy and the JG community

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Where do we go from here? Class VIII on Culture, Development, and Education

photo of a village near Jhamtse Gatsal

We conclude our unit (the one with all the colossal, interconnected questions about how we’re all ourselves colossally interconnected) with some personal reflection on the same questions the students caught Davis and His Holiness grappling with a few weeks ago.

Here are some strands of ponderment and nuggets of wisdom straight from the Jhamtse eighth graders themselves:

How are we all similar?

Dawa Dorjee: We all are similar because every human are made up of same structure of muscle, bone, blood, and body part.

Raju Kumar: We all are similar because we all have same feelings when we are feeling cold or hot or when sometimes some hurting feeling sometimes happy.

Kangyur Sangpo: We all are similar because most of the people say that we all came from monkey and also they said that our mother is Ma Dak Shu Mo and father is Jang Chub Sampa.

Tenzin Lhamu: We all are similar because we all have our own body and we all are living in the same house, that is our world. For example, I have parents and you also have parents. We all are eating food and working very hard. Also we all have two hands and two legs.

Tashi Yangzom A: We all are similar because we all are in one place. I mean we all are in one Earth.

Leki Norbu: In this small round world, all living things are alive.

Phurpa Lhamu: We all are similar in parts of the body that we have and physical challenges like birth, sick, and die. We are also similar in what we need to stay alive like food, shelter, clothing, love, and happy.

Why is it important to see that different facets of humanity are the same at our core?

Langa Tsering: It is important to see we are same because we all are human and we all need happiness. All the people have suffering. Thus who have lots of money, they have also suffering.

Rinchen Drolma: We all human and want happiness and we want we should all be treated equally.

Dorjee Chozom: All people have brain but their thinking is different from all of us. We all have our own opinion to tell.

How are we different?

Tenzin Lhamu: We all are different from culture, different from language, different from colour face, different from situation, and different talking.

Dawa Dorjee: We are different because of people have different thinking and ever people have different culture, languages, lifestyle, and different religion.

Phurpa Lhamu: We all are different in thinking, way we work, feelings towards to human and animals, way we look to nature, and how we learn from our parents.

Why is human diversity important?

Dorjee Chozom: Human diversity is important because the people have to live which places are most suitable for their bodies. When we live together, then in the world there will be no religion and culture. All the religion and culture will be mixed. So, it’s good to be different religions and cultures.

Kangyur Sangpo: It is not interesting that we don’t have human diversity.

Rinchen Drolma: Human diversity is important because if there is no diversity for job and every person is doctor then who will do farm, who will build house? So, human diversity is very important.

Phurpa Lhamu: Human diversity is important because to move forward in different ways by different ideas from different people for benefits for different regions.

What is “development”?

Tashi Tsomu: The development is when there is no hunger, no poverty, no overpopulation.

Tashi Yangzom A: Development means to change bad situation into good situation is called development.

Tenzin Drolma B: Development means getting developed. For example: habit, I developed my bad habits to good habits.

Tenzin Lhamu: Development means that when we will learn our culture very well and we will try to know other culture it is called development. For example, when we are small we don’t know how to wash our face and after we will learn from our parent and we will know that is called development.

Rinchen Drolma: Development is to improve in every work like traditional work and Western work.

Dorjee Chozom: Development is something is improving. We are sending our children to learn something to develop our society. Only having the big buildings and many moneys are not development. We learn something and gain something, then at last our society will be developed. Then we should say it is development.

Phurpa Lhamu: Development is to make new things that benefits for us, like before in India they also have evil system in society like Sati system, child marriage, and girls were not allowed to go to school. After that British bring with them Western education and they help to end evil rule and also help them in education system. Because of that now India’s girls are more students than boys, and also they help to make roads, and industries, etc.

What are the positive and negative effects of “development”?

Langa Tsering: The positive effects of development are all work are getting easier because of we have machine. The negative effects of development are some are losing culture and traditional things because modern things.

Dawa Dorjee: Development is also good and not good. For example, we develop one thing then we lost also important thing such as our Monpa region is getting developed but we are losing our culture of Monpa.

Phurpa Lhamu: Positive list: because of development, make our life easier; we can treat our disease in dangerous situation; we can make our life happy by available of anything; more ideas in solving problem. Negative list: make us frustration by drugs and alcohol; make our life in struggle by global warming and pollution; losing culture; make us fat and lazier by machine doing work instead of human; carrying new disease; destroy beautiful nature; more population; arms race.

Raju Kumar: Negative development is to fight and get the land of another people and any good building and road, etc. Positive development is that the people must be good, kind-hearted, and good technologic.

Leki Norbu: It is the positive thing is that we work right things in our society like to help for sick people like in Tawang the reason Genla Lobsang is helping to poor people recruit volunteers to help our school. Negative is effects to our world to going down like not getting knowledge.

Tenzin Lhamu: The negative effect of “development” is that when somebody will developing their culture and some person will say that first you have to lean other’s culture. The positive effect of development is that when we will learn our old culture and after we will learn modern culture. It is positive development.

What causes contentment? What causes suffering?

Tenzin Drolma B:
Causes of suffering are:
1) need more and more
2) fear of getting lost
3) feeling of scare
4) fear of dying
5) having frustration, etc.

Causes of contentment are:
1) happy for things which we have
2) no fear
3) no feeling of scare
4) no feeling of dying
5) live in peaceful, etc.

Leki Norbu: I was suffering to me getting knowledge.

Tashi Yangzom A: When we get independent to us and we causes contentment.

Dorjee Chozom: Being contentment we should be like farmers, because farmers can farm and they can sell the food and vegetable. Then from that they can serve their families and they can live very happily. Other people will not jealous for them. But the suffering causes when there is so much properties like government person has so many big, big buildings to live and all people are showing jealous to them and it causes so much suffering. We can see them very happy and rich from outside, but from inside they have very suffering and poor than the farmer’s life. Sometimes the rich people take pills to make happy themselves.

Rinchen Drolma: Contentment is cause when we feel that what we have is enough for our life. Suffering cause when we feel greedy and want some more and more.

Dawa Dorjee: Contentment cause that when people get something which is very important in people’s lives. Then people will help the earth improve. Suffering cause that when people did not have contentment or happy. Then it can be destroy the earth.

Phurpa Lhamu: Contentment causes by living in simple lifestyle and having our own land, not in competition with other country or villages, knowing which background we are from and what’s purpose we are working and know who you are. Suffering causes by development and not having happy and love which way we need and having competition and greedy, not having good relationship with others.

What is important knowledge? What is a meaningful education?

Tenzin Lhamu: The important knowledge that we people have to know that we all are same and same from parents. The education means if we will know how to work in garden, how to think, to known about different people’s culture and know about agriculture is called education.

Tashi Tsomu: Knowledge is very important. Knowledge only writing and reading is not enough. Knowledge, many type farming is also knowledge, washing clothes, cooking, car driver, carpenter, this all are also knowledge. If you will think writing and reading is knowledge, it’s totally wrong. Education is meaningful because in education there are so many types of education and all education is important. All education has their different meaning so that’s why it’s meaningful.

Dawa Dorjee: Important knowledge is once we get knowledge then it will help our whole life and we can go anywhere we want.

Tenzin Drolma B: An important knowledge is something to learn what we daily do. A meaningful education is something which we need to know for our life.

Dorjee Chozom: Having knowledge is very useful to us when we go outside countries. If we are uneducated then we are not able to go to outside countries and we have to sit in home just like our parents. The meaningful education is knowing everything which is around us, not only the reading and writing. We should know how to cook food, helping others, being kind, knowing the housework. Then we can say the meaningful education.

Rinchen Drolma: Important education means the work that we know and the talent which we have and using it in correct way and know how to survive on our own. Meaningful education is the education that we gain and can use in meaningful way which helps you and others too.

Langa Tsering: If we work for different people to help them from suffer by using our education then it became a meaningful of education.

Leki Norbu: Meaningful education that means it does not affect another people however we will do good or bad things in the world.

Tashi Yangzom A: The important knowledge is to learn more about our own culture and our own traditional things. Some person they are learning about culture and traditional things but they used to forgetting that how to be kind person and like we can make happiness for other people even us. The meaningful education for all is to try to improve or find chance to learn more that have more education and that can make our future good.

How should we move forward as a species?

Langa Tsering: We should give good education to our young generation. And also teach our culture to them. Then our culture will be never lost.

Tenzin Lhamu: We will help for children who don’t have an education and we will also help for modern students to know about their culture, who forget their culture and working in the gardens.

Dorjee Chozom: We have to change our bad habit first. After that we have to teach others.

Tashi Yangzom A: We need to move forward as a species that we need to take responsibility to our culture or traditional things that we can move forward or to be a better.

Dawa Dorjee: We should move forward as a species by knowing both education of modern and ancient and to become helpful person in people’s life.

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My First Teachers

My first teachers mean the world to me, because their love for me has been eternal and unconditional! Whatever I am today, it’s all because of them. They are my first teachers who taught me all the basic things: like A, B, C, D;
Hindi and Tibetan script; and 1, 2, 3, 4, etc. In my life, I will never forget them and whatever they did for me. I feel so lucky that I got such wonderful and grateful teachers in my life. They have nurtured me with immense love and care which I will be forever grateful to them. I have them always by my side during thick and thin times. Life wouldn’t be the same without their guidances, love, and care. They teach us with their heart out. Such teachers are like god in disguise. They have recruited me to become a good human being. Starting from 2006 to now so far I have tried to live up to their expectation and hopefully I can become a good human being. It was their dream to see me as a good human being and I am living their dream to become a good human being. I will be forever thankful and grateful to my first teachers.

photo of Phurpa with a teacher

Phurpa Yangzom (Left) and Tenzin Drolma A (Right) dressed in traditional dance costumes, and hanging out with Jhamtse Gatsal teacher, Minoti Singha (Center).

Posted in Straight From the Students | 2 Comments