Teaching kids in the Himalayas

Kuzuzangpola!

In August 2018, seven students from the UTS School of Education set off to teach in Paro, Bhutan. It was two weeks of non-stop adventure. We explored temples and climbed mountains in between the lesson planning and actual teaching.

A small country located in the eastern Himalayan region, Bhutan’s culture has been largely unaffected by bordering nations due to the high mountainous peaks that surround it.

We stayed in Paro, which is considered the third largest ‘city’ in Bhutan. It’s about the size of Newtown in Sydney, with only about 20,000 people living there. Bhutan’s streets are crawling with wild dogs and there is not a single traffic light in the whole country.

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Bhutan’s crime rate is very low. Most of the local people practice Buddhism, and perhaps as a result, are extremely friendly and welcoming. Bhutanese people are known for being the happiest people on Earth, and this is definitely evident when meeting them.

English is one of the national languages of Bhutan and is widely spoken in urban areas, so you can easily get by without knowledge of the other 28 local languages.

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Bhutan’s highest point is 7,570 metres above sea level (while Mount Everest is 8,848 metres). Fortunately for my poor legs, we only climbed a peak of 3,120 metres to Tiger’s Nest or Taktsang Monastery, which is located on the edge of a mountain as shown in the picture below. There were a lot of steps and steep tracks. It took us half a day to climb up to the top but we managed to make it inside.

The sense of achievement that followed us around as we viewed each room in the temple was profound. Many spectacular large golden Buddha statues and other deities glittered at us from above, tapestries and murals lined the walls and a number of Buddhist monks were praying or walking around in their rich red and yellow robes. It was a once in a lifetime experience.

A rainbow shot over the sky as we looked out at the view from the fair side of monastery, but unfortunately we were not allowed phones or cameras whilst on the sacred grounds (so I didn’t manage to snap a picture of the pot of gold), but I don’t think a photo would have done it justice.

The harder part was walking back down the mountain, as it had rained and the track was quite slippery. It was slow going, but we managed to make it back down to the base camp. We finished the hike off with a delicious picnic provided by our hosts from the Paro College of Education and then went and soaked in some hot stone baths to relax our stiff muscles.

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Teaching in Bhutan was insightful and a lot of fun. The students at Khangkhu Middle Secondary School were very respectful compared to some of the students you’d find in Australia. They addressed you as ‘Madam’, would stand up every time you entered a room and wouldn’t sit down again until you gave them permission to do so.

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Since Bhutan is such a small nation, visitors from a place like Australia are practically unheard of. We were treated like celebrities by the students throughout the two weeks of teaching. Students actually asked each of us for autographs, holding out their hand or a piece of paper with a quick “May I have your signature, Madam?”. On the last day, the students showered us with small gifts and some of the younger kids were reduced to tears. It was hard saying goodbye.

The food in Bhutan was magnificent. It’s very easy to be vegetarian here, as many of the locals are for cultural reasons. We ate a lot of delicious dumpling-style food that the Bhutanese called Momos. Bhutanese people love their food to be spicy, and often serve chilli sauce with every thing, especially Momos.

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I would highly recommend visiting if you ever have the chance. Bhutanese people are very proud of their country and they have every reason to be. It’s a beautiful, peaceful place with rich culture, great food and friendly people.

It’s clear to see why Bhutan uses a Gross National Happiness index to measure their population’s collective happiness and wellbeing. Their motto, ‘Happiness is a place’ is spot on.

Blogpost by Stefanie Carmody.

#utsbuild

Sustainable Development in Metropolitan Bordeaux

Bonjour Madame, Monsieur,

Hello, I’m Celina, back from a BUILD Abroad Trip in Bordeaux, France, a region very well known for its wine. During June-July 2018, I attended a Summer School run by the Bordeaux Institute of Technology where I studied ‘Sustainable Development in Metropolitan Bordeaux’. The main topic the subject revolved around, was sustainable development and the consequences of global warming and so we learnt and saw how Bordeaux Metropole tackled relating issues in the surrounding region. Its move towards sustainable development policies, education and research to implement initiatives that created a greener and better quality of life to its citizens.

Whilst this was outside my topic of study, they provided eye-opening information on how we can adapt and live a greener life. For example, in France, two years ago on the 1st of July 2016 they banned plastic bag use in supermarkets whereas this has just been implemented in New South Wales. They have also implemented policies to reduce traffic entering the city and making it more accessible and inviting for pedestrians. In addition to sustainability subjects we were also given French lessons. Our daily French lessons also meant that we got settled in relatively quickly, picking up enough French to get around and order food, albeit a bit awkwardly at first.  Learning a language in the country it is spoken in is an experience I’d recommend to anyone, it is a much faster paced learning experience, not in the meaning that you are rushed but because you need to use it all the time outside of class, we all picked up the language relatively quickly.

Outside of class, Bordeaux Institute of Technology had also organised cultural events, starting off with Wine and Cheese, there were also cooking lessons, a tour of the Museum of Wine and finally finishing off the Summer school with a farewell dinner. And these weren’t all, as a class we also organised outings into the city, a trip to a music festival, a ballet and a tour of the vineyards with some wine tasting at an estate in Saint Emilion, a region near Bordeaux also famous for its red wine.

Overall with daily sessions and dinner meetups it wasn’t hard before the group of us were fast friends even with our varying backgrounds in study and origin. I now have new friends from China, Korea, Morocco as well as students from RMIT in Melbourne. This trip is an unforgettable experience I’d recommend to anyone willing to give it a go.

Celina

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Rural India and I

I was recently fortunate enough to be selected to join a group of university students across Australia, in an invaluable and unforgettable experience. Working in rural India with a social enterprise.

 

The social enterprise I was working with is known as 40K Plus. I was a part of the Media/Marketing project, this meant in a team of four we would be creating and collecting content, to form the three microdocumentary’s which would make up the marketing materials that 40K can use for audiences such as future investors/partners, university students and much more.

 

The whole experience was amazing, and I would recommend it to anyone who is up for a rewarding challenge.  Not only did I learn about business structures, cinematography, photography, using programs such as Adobe Premier Pro to edit footage, but I also learnt how to be dependent, financial stable, how to work in a team and how to be a leader. From being in rural village to and pitching one on one pitch to the Indian CEO of 40K, I have learnt so much about India, social enterprises and myself.

 

The marketing material made for 40K is now the first piece of content I can put in my portfolio, which I will be able to show for future job interviews or even other programs/internships that I apply for.

 

During the program we had a couple days each week to do our own travel, in this time I was able to complete the Golden Triangle (Delhi, Agra & Jaipur) as well as explore some of the most beautiful places, I had never heard of, these include, Mysore and Hampi.

 

One of the best parts is, all these skills I have learnt while on the program are transferable for all my future studies, career prospects and life experiences, this trip is definitely an experience I will never forget.

 

By Sofia Warwar

Bordeaux Institute of Technology Sustainable Development Summer School

39036839_463190067483665_2843522277008474112_nTravelling to Bordeaux for two weeks over the mid-semester break was truly one of the best experiences I’ve had. Combining learning more about my passion for sustainable development, studying and completing an elective, travelling abroad to France and making tons of friends – I loved every minute of it. I wasn’t exactly sure what to expect from it because I didn’t know anyone from UTS who was also doing the program and because it was my first time travelling completely by myself. However, it exceeded all of my expectations.

The overall program was planned and organised really well with lectures covering a different aspect of sustainability, daily intensive French language classes, amazing field trips around the city and buckets of wine and cheese. Amazing industry professionals covered a difference topic in each lecture – giving a general overview of the topic and then diving into their own personal research. I loved that most of the lectures covered topics that directly related to my studies as a civil and environmental engineer and what I am passionate about, such as groundwater management, growing urbanism, sustainable wood development and food and waste production. It also touched on topics that I had never even though about but really sparked my interest, such as photovoltaic cells, electric consumption and telecommunications from a sustainable development perspective. The field trips around the city were my favourite parts because we visited places including La Cite du Vin (The wine museum), Bordeaux City Metropole, Veolia Lapouyade as well as attended culinary workshops and visited Chateau Beychevelle which truly made the experience worthwhile by breaking up what we were shown in lectures and immersing ourselves in French culture.

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The people I met while on the trip was the icing on the cake. I met 4 other students from UTS as well as other students from RMIT Melbourne, China, Morocco and South Korea. It felt so good to get out of my comfort zone and experience “the classroom” in another country and culture with people that share the same interests and passions. We all got along straight away and it made everything 10 times better. It was truly an amazing experience and I am so happy to have undertaken this amazing opportunity with UTS BUiLD.

Reina

Paris – City of Love

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I spent two weeks in Paris studying Luxury Brand Management at the Paris School of Business.  The weather is absolutely wonderful over there, summer in Paris is so different compared to Sydney.  The sunsets don’t come until 10 pm, with night time being quite short. The summer weather was so comfortable at 27 degrees.

We went on many after school excursions as a group, visiting places including the Montparnasse building which shows 360 degree views of Paris. There was also so much food to taste which definitely added to the experience.

The study period was very short and quite fun. I can’t speak any French myself, however,  all the classes are taught in English so there wasn’t a real language barrier. It was a great experience if you are willing to get to know new cities and their culture.

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Champs Elysees
well known for its theatres, cafés, and luxury shops 

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Petit Palais: art gallery of sytle éclectique ou beaux arts

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a collection of streetshots

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Photo credit @ yanmartea

A Fashionable Summer in Milano, July 2018

Milano… the fashion capital of the world that lived up to my every expectation.

My three week program ‘Fashion and Design Management’ at the University of Bocconi was something i had been planning and hoping of getting into for two years. The University in it’s self is one of the top 10 business university’s in Europe and the actual program ‘Fashion and Design management’ was exemplary. From the abundant knowledge the lecturers shared to the fun and cultural excursions to Valentino headquarters in Milan, Gucci Gallery in Florence and MAC Cosmetics. We had extremely experienced people in the Fashion industry come to the University as guest speakers and provide knowledge on the companies they work for. The companies they represented were Kering Eyewear, Intercos and GCDS. It was extremely valuable to hear experts in the industry share their knowledge  and insights.

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A great attribute of doing a BUILD Abroad program is the diverse cultures and people that you meet. There were people from 43 different countries doing a summer program at the University of Bocconi which allowed me to make friends from all over the world. The friends i made will be life long friends and i plan on visiting them in the future. Countries where they were from included Canada, Sweden, Denmark, Belgium and France.

My apartment was situated in a suburb called Brera, which is the fashion and arts district of Milan. The first morning of waking up, i sat on my little balcony over looking a lively bunch of restaurants, bars, fruit stalls and old churches. I could smell the roasting of coffee and croissants… my favourite! I instantly  knew the next few weeks of living there would go beyond my expectations.

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On the weekends i had time off from the university program, so made sure to make the most of being in Italy. I travelled to Lake Como for the first weekend and Sicily for the second. Conveniently some of my friends from UTS were doing abroad studies as well so we were able to meet up in these locations. I can say that a lot of pizza, pasta and Aperol Spritz were thoroughly enjoyed! We spent our days swimming off the rocks in Sicily, exploring old Italian ruins and enjoying the local cuisine.

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Although this experience only lasted 3 weeks, i have gained so much knowledge not only in the industry of fashion and design management but also personal experience of putting myself in an unfamiliar environment and pushing through those moments of  uncertainty to gain unforgettable moments of clarity, excitement and a whole new love for a city which was once unfamiliar.

This course has brought me closer to understanding what i would like to gain and the direction i would like to take in my career. Since i have one semester left, this course and it’s timing has been invaluable to me.

Written by Sophie Brownie Booker