BRIDGE in Bhutan comes to the East!

11 October 2012

In Bhutan, the region referred to as the East is the most remote, exquisitely beautiful and also the most populous. The AusAiD-funded three year BRIDGE program in Bhutan has so far been conducted in the West and the South. Delivering Civic Education and Voter Information Modules in the East is a milestone to be celebrated.  Two consecutive modules were delivered to two groups of participants made up of school principals and vice principals, teachers and gewog officers. 
The modules were delivered by a team of facilitators including three semi-accredited people from the East – K.N. Sharma, Cheki Dorji and  Yangchen Dolkar – all are now accredited Workshop Facilitators – Congratulations!
Cate Thompson Australian Electoral Commission (AEC), Augusto Pereira (AEC East Timor), Kinley, Election Commission Bhutan (ECB) and Gem Tshewang (ECB) made up the rest of the team.

Facilitator reflections:

Kinley, Senior Training Coordinator, ECB, Thimphu
The most popular BRIDGE workshop amongst many participants has finally happened in Eastern part of Bhutan, though with lots of administrative challenges. However, it is exciting to see the hard work fully come to success with all participants enjoying the workshops, all together making a learning fun. What is even more reassuring is the promises they make to take back the knowledge and ideas to their work places, making BRIDGE sustainable and useful tool in Bhutan.
The participants for both the workshops have amazingly reflected positive and useful, while the team of facilitators have equally enjoyed. Through this program the ECB has greatly benefited, with opportunity to share both the knowledge and responsibilities to electoral stakeholders who attend the program, as civic education is a collective responsibility in building vibrant democracy in Bhutan!

K.N. Sharma, Vice Principal, Monggar Higher Secondary School:
Under a healthy guidance and motivational leadership, the BRIDGE workshop at Sherubtse College, Kanglung, from 10th to 14th and 17th to 21st September 2012 went very well. In the beginning, some co-facilitators were bit nervous, but soon they developed confidence and excelled their delivery owing to visionary mentorship and continuous reinforcement and inspiring motivation. I found the participants were very active. All members were equally competitive and extra ordinarily participative. Their intellectual enthusiasm was stirred and stimulated further, time and again.  I feel honour to be the part of this program that was fantastic and fabulous in all senses. Indeed, it was a festival of sharing and discovering ideas, ideologies and skills of pedagogical process. It was great and excellent. I congratulate everybody.

Yangchen Dolkar, GAO, Pemathang Gewog :
This was my first workshop where I was one of the facilitators. It was a very proud moment and good experience for me. For the first batch, I was very nervous, as most of the participants were far more experienced and senior to me. But I did have fun. As the days pass by, I was building up my confidence. I really did enjoy all the activities which were assigned to me especially the icebreakers and energisers. Even the participants enjoy it too.
My voice was quite low during my presentation. But with the help and guidance from other senior facilitators I really could work on that and improve. The senior facilitators were so kind to support us for the presentation. They also did work hard along with us. My thanks to all of them!  For the second batch, I am not nervous as I am doing the same activities again. I have the content and experience which doesn’t make me feel nervous.  In future, if I am given a chance to carry out such workshops, I am sure that I would be able to do it without any hesitation. Thank you!

Cheki Dorji
The week started with a lot of worries as it was the first time co-facilitating such workshop. Nevertheless, having to present in front of people who were senior to me added salt to my injury; however, not very long into the first day itself, I was indeed truly made to feel easy through the my senior facilitators’ assistance.
Through the days of co-facilitation I successfully cultivated the belief that BRIDGE is one rarest organization ever existing, devoted to growing no matter what the participants are up to. It is this workshop which has given me excessively the ideas on how to customize things which will really measure up to the expectation of the targeted audience and assure no cultural clashes.

Gem Tshewang, Training Coordinator, ECB, Thimphu
“By three methods we may learn wisdom: first by reflection, which is noblest, second by imitation, which is easiest, and third by experience, which is the most bitter.”
Nervousness is something which stays in my heart at the beginning of every session but the guidance from my experts really helped me conquer the fear of nervousness in my life. The feedback from the participants was another plus point to reflect back at my work and improve it. Every workshop, particularly these ones, helped me to step outside my comfort zone and learn. Facilitating is not just about being in front of the participants; rather we need to wear different hats to make the workshop run in smooth ways without any complaint from the participants, at the same time making everything ready for the sessions.
We do not remember days, we remember moments… the moments of being with participants and facilitators, energisers made us active so we work together to create inbuilt team spirit. These moments of laughter and learning will be where I will reflect when I get back to my work. Cheers to BRIDGE ….Bingo!!!

Augusto Pereira, AEC Program Officer, East Timor
It is my privilege to work with my old co-worker Cate Thompson, energetic and very experience BRIDGE Guru. My first exposure to work with old friend Kinley has also built my courage to understand Bhutanese society more, including issues and challenges they face. Another lively four BRIDGE facilitators have developed such enormous positive learning environment, calm, charming and easy to work with which turned BRIDGE workshop training room into very lively, engaging, participatory momentum.
Diversity of participants made for strong discussions on civic education topics. The happiest part of the workshop was all participants injecting happy memories and humour into presentations which made workshops pleasant and enjoyable.

Cate Thompson, AEC, Australia
There are no more words to say. Except warmest and most heartfelt congratulations to all facilitators and participants!

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