Karma Dhargyal is in charge of the Nursery & Infant section at Druk White Lotus School. He is the first staff member to come to UK for training and will be gaining professional experience in several schools and colleges over a three week period. Asked about his impresssions after the first few days, Karma said:
“It was really a very special feeling for me as soon as I was greeted and picked up at Heathrow Airport. The feeling was amazing and I was totally startled for having reached London for the very first time in my life. Anyway, it was all wonderful.
The people seem very much involved and busy, fixed-up in their own schedules. Oh! The double-decker bus, the tube and train rides were very enjoyable and I felt myself placed in a totally different world with a whole lot of nice experiences. In a nut-shell, my first few impressions were very good and overwhelming. Looking forward to experience much much more sweet experiences.”
The mains electricity supply continues to be sporadic and unreliable and so the school has had to rely on a diesel generator to meet essential needs. The situation was transformed in October 2008 when SunTechnics Energy Systems Pvt. Ltd installed and commissioned an advanced solar energy system. The new system complements the existing solar installations that pump groundwater for domestic and irrigation purposes. The Shey campus is now close to energy self-sufficiency. The school will need to install more photovoltaic panels, inverters and batteries year-by-year as the campus continues to expand. The new solar energy system was part financed by carbon-offset investment by Arup Associates.
The Druk White Lotus School continues to be a project that attracts much attention in the architecture and construction press due to its fully sustainable design brief. This is an article from World Architecture News , which has just been published. Articles have also recently appeared in Metropolis (Feb 2009) and the Italian/Middle Eastern journal “Compass”
His Holiness Gyalwang Drukpa together with about 500 nuns, monks and students walked for 6 weeks during May-July from Manali at the base of the Himalaya up to Hemis in Ladakh - a distance of some 400km including the ascent and descent of two 5,000m passes and trekking across other high altitude areas.
The ‘Pad Yatra’ pilgrimage raised funds for several humanitarian activities, including Druk White Lotus School.
Pad Yatra link.
His Holiness visited the school on 4th July, accompanied by His Excellency Khamtrul Rinpoche, VIPs from Asia and the United States, and a group of 30 media folks. The students performed traditional songs and dances for the visitors, and displayed their skills and achievements. Here you can see a short clip of the culture show the students gave..
Sunday 2nd August: fine summer weather, the garden of a great English pub located in beautiful countryside, excellent food and lots of good music … a recipe for enjoyment and for raising funds for Druk White Lotus School. The Duke of Cumberland pub is located in a small village not far from the south coast of England. Around 300 people enjoyed the skills and talents of a range of singers, bands, poets and performers at DukeFest 09. Funds were raised for the school through an auction, a raffle and games - and our thanks go to all at ‘the Duke’, the performers, and everybody who participated.
Around 100 international volunteers contributed during 2009 on the Shey campus. Some helped inside the school with educational aspects, while others worked to develop a recently-launched ‘Living Traditions’ heritage project. International volunteers and Ladakhis benefit one another.
A group of students and staff from St Christopher School, Letchworth (UK) visited Shey in April - the third such visit from ‘St Chris’ under the leadership of Edwin Gruber. The group spent time at the school helping Ladakhi students with ‘learning through fun’ before heading off for a challenging trek very early in the season. Here you can view a movie made by the St Chris students.
Two secondary school classrooms started manifesting on the campus during September. Of course a lot of work had already gone into building the foundations and pre-fabricating window frames, but the skill of the carpenters was a joy to see. The classrooms will be in use from November.