PREM Travels to the Land of the Thunder Dragon! ??

This past Spring break PREM IEP students, alumni to present, and teachers travelled to Bhutan for an unforgettable experience. Our trip was a shining example of how experiential learning can transcend beyond classroom walls and into the field.

The descent to Paro Airport

From when we landed until we departed, students had an adventurous itinerary of hiking; camping; rafting and sight-seeing. The weather was unexpectedly cold at times, reaching temperatures of -5º C at night! This was challenging for all, especially after hiking 3,000+m high into the mountains of Paro, where we spent two nights camping and trekking. The students did an incredible job of pushing beyond their boundaries, stepping outside of their comfort-zone and displaying resilience and risk-taking attributes; for most of them, it was their first time hiking, rafting and camping.

We were also fortunate enough to arrange a visit and cross-cultural exchange with the Utpal Academy, a private junior and senior school in Paro. The school was very welcoming; Prem students and teachers spent the morning engaging senior school students and we were treated to an evening of traditional Bhutanese performances by junior school students.

No trip to Bhutan would be complete without a walk to Tiger’s Nest (Taktsang) monastery. Students and teachers did a fantastic job of walking all the way to the main prayer halls; the air was thin and the hike was challenging but by then we were all seasoned hikers, there wasn’t a single complaint, only expressions of awe at what lay in wait for us upon entering the temple spaces.

Taktsang (Tiger’s Nest) monastery

Experiential learning is as important, if not more, than the academic learning that takes place in the classroom. Arranging and organising a trip to Bhutan for teachers and students was a full time job of its own, a labour of love rather. It was a great pleasure to watch students grow and learn new life skills that they will carry with them forever, momentous progress was made and felt by all.

Bhutan is a magical country, words and static images hardly do it justice. I would highly recommend a visit to this special land, where gross national happiness (GNH) is given the highest priority over gross domestic product (GDP); where the environment always comes first; where the benevolence of the Royal Family is revered and felt by all.

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