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.
Team Just Do It Dil Se! (from the heart)
Tashi Phuntsok leads his team into battle.
Gen Lobsang, Maling Yangchen, Sangey Lhazom, Pema Drolma B, and others of Dil Se watch from the sidelines.
The younger students compete to see who can keep their balloon intact the longest.
Dil Se put their heads together.
Monjong celebrate a victory.
Preschooler Lobsang Tsering looks on some kind of befuddlement.
Dorjee Chozom waits by the finish line.
Dorjee Norbu at the long jump.
Sonam Chodron flies through the air.
Girls’ volleyball competition.
Driver Dorjee cheers the players on.
Amala Yangzom and Lungta Sangmu smile on the sidelines.
Volunteer Andrea with Kunsang Drolma, waiting for the dance performances to begin.
Dargey Phuntsok, Tenzin Norbu, Rinchen Tsering, Langa Tsering, and Kangyur Sangpo in the audience of the trivia competition.
Monjong being stoked about something.
Maling Tashi and Sanjay Kumar entertain quiet focus amid the fray.
Amala Soomcho with campus toddler (and celebrity) Bhai.
Tenzin Tashi, decked out and ready for the day.
Lobsang Tharpa, looking fierce.
Rinchen Tsering and Langa Tsering, showing off their Lhaksam pride.
Sanjay Kumar and Sandy, bridging team divisions.
Phurpa Yangzom, in Lhaksam red.
Nima Wangchu offers an overjoyed Tsering Deki a ride on his shoulders.
Genla stands proudly by an assembly to close out the week.
Tsering Chodron, Class VI, remembers the experience fondly in her end-of-year letter to her future self.
Yeshi Lhamu, Class VI, remembers the experience fondly in her end-of-year letter to her future self.