Reflections on the School Exchange – Part 1

Students participated in an exchange with the students from Uygen Academy in Punakha. They had the opportunity to take part in the daily activities of the school, attend classes, participate in sports, meals, and sleep over in the school dorms with their assigned buddies. Below are the reflections on their experiences at the school.

Ugyen Academy broadened my horizons, specifically through the compassion and kindness shown by all of their wonderful students detail. As a student of the York School, an urban school in an extremely different setting and climate, it was fascinating to see how school life was elsewhere. The courses and people were mesmerizing and helped me discover myself in the faraway land of Bhutan. The brotherhood found in the dorms and the undying loyalty of the students was a beautiful sight. I hope to one day be privileged enough to visit such a wonderful establishment once again. – Joseph

My time at Ugyen Academy was nothing short of unforgettable. Upon arrival, I was greeted by the kindest kid I had ever met, Jurmee. To put his kindness into perspective. he would not let me carry my backpack or food plate, even for a second. Throughout the day, I made tons of amazing friends and bonded over basketball and soccer. As the day went on, the more I began to realize the uniqueness of the school and the students. Wherever I went, students would be greeting me, and during large events, I’d hear my name chanted. Upon arrival at the student’s dorm, the kid’s daringness continued, as they placed all 6 of us on a bed, and circled around us asking questions. Every few minutes, we would be asked if we were comfortable, wanted to sleep, or were too cold or hot. To be honest, there were moments where I felt the kids were being sarcastic, as compared to Toronto, they were just way too nice. In the end, I realized how genuine they actually were. I left the school sad, as I had made so many strong friendships which were truly unforgettable which I had to say bye to. However, I also left happy, since it all happened. – Hudson

I will be forever grateful of the day and a half that I spent at Ugyen Academy. Everything about my experience from the second I got there, up until when I left and even when I came back later in the evening for the soccer game to surprise them surpassed all expectations. I was greeted by my buddy right away who immediately offered to carry my backpack and throughout the rest of the day he would offer to do more and more to make my time easier or to help me out. I am still in shock by how my friends and I on the trip got so close so fast with the students at the school, but this adds on to what I have learnt about the people in Bhutan and their character. The most memorable moments of my time at Ugyen Academy include my time at night at the hostel where we slept with the students and got to know each other more. Overall we had a very good time, including at the soccer game that we played with the Bhutan kids. – Noah

During my stay at Ugyen Academy, I found friends more alike than I could have ever imagined from so far away. My day there was filled with laughter and a great sense of belonging in a community, which prior was so foreign to me. I was paired up with a wonderful girl my age named Jamyang as we went through classes like Chemistry and Dzongkha during the day. Her hospitality was something that I will never forget, and I will cherish the friendship we made forever. While I learned academic lessons during the school trip, the most important lessons learned were those about the peace and happiness that derive from the practice of Buddhist beliefs. – Ryann

I only arrived at Ugyen Academy at 4 pm because I hadn’t been feeling well in the morning, but I didn’t receive any less kindness from the students there than my peers. I instantly felt welcomed by everyone around me and was still able to make the most of the time I spent at the academy. From strangers, they have become lifelong friends and I have never felt the amount of love they showered me with from people I had just met. Never was I allowed to carry my own bag or stand while they were sitting, the hospitality of these Bhutanese students is unmatched. I can’t wait to go back to spend some more time with each of the guys I met at the Ugyen Academy dorms. – Tilian

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