Published: Tuesday, 13 January 2015
This is a guest post by blogger Passang "Passu" Tshering about the inauguration of National Reading Year in Bhutan in 2015, and the launch of the Yangthang READ Center. The original post can be found on his blog, PassuDiary.com - Journal of an Ordinary Bhutanese.
"You must read about everything around you- not just subjects that interest you. You must learn about current events, history, science, culture and people around the world. The pursuit of knowledge must be lifelong." - His Majesty the King of Bhutan on the launch of National Reading Year, 2015.
I am proud that my nation of Bhutan has committed to observe the whole year of 2015 as National Reading Year.
For the inauguration to be graced by his majesty the King of Bhutan himself is truly something. About ten thousand students and teachers gathered at the grand opening and received book gifts from his majesty - giving us all an inspiration and reason to read.
I personally believe that at the end there are only two types of people: the ones who are fortunate enough to read, and others who aren't. All the other differences are therefore connected to this division. I realized this late in life because of where I grew up – a small rural village called Yangthang, in the Haa district of Bhutan, which lacked educational opportunities.
I wished I had so much more inspiration and opportunity when I was in primary school. Today, when I feel something missing in my being, I know that it is a certain book I missed in life.
I didn’t want this to happen to the children who are growing up in my village today. And so I approached READ Bhutan to request the construction of a library in my rural village, which is what READ Bhutan does across the country.
This amazing nonprofit organization made a few visits to my village, and upon understanding the gravity of my request, they accepted to help. They have so far built 6 READ Centers across Bhutan.
READ needed the assurance from the people of the village that they would support the project in the long run, so that it would be sustainable. To do this, they signed an agreement and formed a management committee to come together to help in building the structure, and also in running it sustainably after completion. This is done by launching a small business called a sustaining enterprise. In Yangthang, the community is considering a beekeeping or buckwheat growing enterprise.
The construction is underway, and in April 2015 the library will be ready. More than 3,000 people from Yangthang and nearby villages will have access to the facility. The library will have thousands of books, a computer lab, children's section with audio-visual devices, a women’s section with training equipment, and conference room.
As the nation prepares for the National Reading Year I am smiling at the perfect coincidence of launching a village library in the same year with the organisation that advocates reading in Bhutan. It was never planned this way, but it makes it the best gift for the children of my village from READ Bhutan.
It gives me so much satisfaction and pride that I have been able to bridge the divide between READ Bhutan and my village. The village elders blessed me with their kindest words when I went home with the READ Bhutan team to inspect the work in progress.
If you want a community library in your village, you know how to go about it!
Passang Tshering, Teacher, Royal Academy Project
Passang “Passu” Tshering is a high school teacher at the Royal Academy Project in Paro, Bhutan. He is also a writer, blogger, photographer, and painter. His blog is PassuDiary.com - Journal of an Ordinary Bhutanese.
A special thanks from READ Global to the Singapore American School for their generous support in making the Yangthang READ Center a reality!