Monday, July 27, 2009

Building Bhutan: The SIF Way

The Kingdom of Bhutan is breathtakingly beautiful, and for many centuries, has been isolated from the rest of the world. But with the fingers of tourism creeping into its social fabric, its people are desiring to keep up - in particular, to jump on the IT bandwagon & hit the Internet highway.

I feel proud that as Singaporeans, we have a lot to offer in terms of sharing knowledge, skills & resources. And thanks to the Singapore International Foundation (SIF), Bhutanese teacher-trainees now get the opportunity to learn from our volunteers.

We had the pleasure of chatting with two Bhutanese teacher-educators, Karma Galey (Samtse College of Education) and Ugyen Wangchuk (Paro College of Education) today. I must say I was very impressed by their spoken English! I've never met anyone from Bhutan before, and so relished the idea of discovering more about their culture.

We're told that college students in Bhutan are so hungry to learn that their computer labs on campus are open 24 hours. In fact, they have no qualms about queuing up to use the computers in the wee hours of the morning!

There's so much that can be done for the Bhutanese, like equipping their teachers so that they can in turn equip the students. And the ripple effect will be tremendous: Youths make up 45% of Bhutan's population, so you can imagine how their social fabric will be gradually transformed!

Tam Peck Hoon, Manager at SIF, joined us today to tell us more about the NGO's work in Bhutan. What struck me about what Peck Hoon said was that for every computer that foreign organisations donate to Bhutan, a new one gets replaced by their government when it becomes obsolete. So their leaders are taking ownership and taking over.

Our friends from Bhutan Karma & Ugyen, together with SIF manager, Peck Hoon.

It's wonderful that in The Living Room, we have friends from all over the world warm our couch. Sure, it may not be the same as chatting with locals at a tea house 3,000m above sea level, but it sure comes close.

As an aside...

Stan & I were given new flat-screen monitors at work! *woohoo* This has freed up so much space that I can actually see my desk! I was so inspired that I springcleaned my table that very afternoon! *grin*

My desk looks pretty decent now. So Stan.... when are you levelling your moutain? Or shall I take a snapshot of your desk and post it on our blog? *evil cackle*

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