Reflections on the School Exchange – Part 2

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.

Before my visit to Ugyen Academy, I was nervous and did not know what to expect from the day. However, I was pleasantly surprised by the warm welcome I received both from my buddy Norbu, and the rest of the students and faculty. While spending the night at the school, I danced, sang, and exchanged gifts with the other girls staying in the hostel. During the day, I got to know the rigid but rewarding routine of their school day, starting bright and early at 5:15am. Throughout the day, I came to respect the consideration, diligence, and compassion of my peers at Ugyen, as well as their creativity. I enjoyed singing and playing guitar to both America and Bhutanese songs with my classmates and friends. At the end of our visit, we were all sad to say our final goodbyes. We made sure to exchange contacts so that our connection would not be lost. Overall, the day and a half that I spent at Ugyen Academy further opened my eyes to the kindness of Bhutanese culture and allowed me to form strong, new friendships that will not soon be forgotten. – Isla

During my stay at Ugyen Academy, many realizations were made about the incredible sense of community. When making it to the dorms we were greeted by all students, and when finally entering the dorms I noticed many groups partaking in different interests. However, these divided interests did not tarnish the bond the boys shared, as I realized every group held mutual respect to each other. I was proudly introduced to each group who demonstrated the fruits of their passions. – Max

Visiting Ugyen Academy was a healthy challenge. Throughout my visit, I was welcomed by warm smiling faces to participate in classes, try new foods, practice mindfulness, and break a sweat in a recreational soccer match. Everyone was so supportive and despite my lack of coordination, the many voices yelling “goooo Leah!!” Made me feel like a champion on the field. Some of my best memories from my experience were made in and around the dorms where I shared space with 26 other girls. Exchanging music tastes and go-to tunes was my favourite part because although we literally live on opposite sides of the globe, we all seem to love the same artists. Oh, and “silent study time” never stopped 30 girls from nailing the rap solo in Justin Beiber’s “Baby”. I walk away from Ugyen with many new friends and memories that I will look back on for years to come. – Leah

Currently during march break I had the opportunity to be part of an experiential trip with The York School to Bhutan. So far my journey in Bhutan has been nothing but incredible. First we stayed in Thailand for a day and we’re able to head to the MBX Center via sky train where we bargained for all different types of items (clothes, watches, jewellery etc). That was quite enjoyable as I got a couple gifts and a new necklace for myself. Within the next day or so we arrived in Bhutan and since then I have created great memories that I will carry for the rest of my life. My favourite experience so far has been being able to connect with the students at Ugyen Academy and viewing the contrast through teaching styles and what a regular day of school looks like. When arriving at the school I was fortunate enough to receive two buddies Ken-rump and Chinu. They were such great buddies and I am so grateful to have had the experience of being in a classroom and spending the day and night with them.  I’m excited to see the next couple days in Bhutan as the first couple of days have been remarkable.  – Josh 

Although I was only at Ugyen Academy for a soccer game, the students greeted me with a warm welcome and gifts. Through many questions and other and other interactions, I enjoyed learning about their culture and the similarities we share. Watching the soccer game, I experienced the energetic environment of participating in chants. This was one of my favourite parts of the trip so far as I could truly learn about the young people of Bhutan. – Claire

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