I was feeling a little anxious before the celebrations were going to begin. The children had been talking about Teachers Day the entire week and it was clear that they could hardly contain their excitement. I, however, dreaded the thought of so much attention being placed on me. The children began decorating the school and preparing the day before. We were allowed to go home early and I saw children walking home still in their uniform after 6pm that evening, they had been working well into the evening preparing. All the other teachers talked about the outfits they were going to wear and how they had brought new kira’s for the grand celebration - I felt totally unprepared. The truth is that I was unprepared. I did not expect the children to put in so much effort into the day, I did not expect the children to treat us like royalty the way that they did and I did not expect them to give as much as they did. I was completely overwhelmed throughout the proceedings that followed.
Teachers were requested to arrive at 8:30 and the children would get to school beforehand. We waited outside the school gates already noticing the coloured flags, posters and banners - “Happy Teachers Day!” was all you could see. I noticed a fire beside the entry way and was told it was a small puja for the teachers (these are normally reserved only for head lamas and people of great importance!). As we entered the school grounds a badge was pinned to each teacher. We walked along the red carpet framed with letters from students to all their dear teachers. The entire school was waiting quietly and patiently without a sound and we were called up one by one to walk across the stage while the children cheered and shouted in deafening excitement. We were told to gather inside my class homeroom which had been turned into a sort of temple, there were butter lamps and it had been decorated in holy fabrics and portraits. Each teacher lit the candles and said a silent prayer. After this we were requested to stand upon the stage where gifts, speeches and poems were given in our honour. It felt as if I was in a dream like trance up until this point. I really hadn't expected this at all but the overwhelming continued when students were given the signal to “shower” their teachers with gifts. This was sort of a blur for me as students ran and handed me gifts left, right and centre. I had no bags to carry them in and soon children were running around trying to find plastic packets as I couldn't carry any more presents. I don't even remember which of the precious beings I teach gave me gifts because it happened that fast. Children were shoving each other trying to get to me and I was handed delicately wrapped gifts from all directions, they quickly ran away so that the rest could give me what they had worked so hard preparing. I was emotionally exhausted by the end of it and carried my five bags upstairs to be taken home later.
And still the celebrations continued - how was there more?! We were taken to a tent put up on the school field. I have usually seen these tents put up for lamas and monks when there are religious festivals. We watched as students performed the cultural items and dances they had been practicing for weeks. We were handed tea and biscuits and poerie (roti and curry). More speeches, songs, dances and games followed until lunch. The students prepared a lunch fit for kings and queens and I don't think I’ve ever seen so much food, which is saying a lot for Bhutan! Rice and a variety of curries, dal and popadoms. I watched as the male teachers teamed up against the students for a game volley ball before we headed home.
I’m not really sure what made me so emotional on Teachers Day. I absolutely love and appreciate the children’s efforts so much it brings tears to my eyes whenever I even try to grasp their generosity. You have to understand that these children have nothing, they are happy and content, but they have so little. They come to school with a book and a pen and their lunch but other luxuries are unheard of. And yet, they give so much! It is just honestly too overwhelming at the moment and I don't know what to feel besides gratitude, gratitude, gratitude.