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Ian Swift


Ian Swift


Samtengang PS, Wangdue






Melbourne, Australia

Ian comes from Melbourne, Victoria, Australia and has taught English in China, Japan, Thailand, Bhutan and most recently Tanzania. He enjoys the challenge of surviving as a minority foreigner and learning about new cultures and countries.

He enjoys cycling, walking, cooking, photography and playing ping pong. He has had a number of jobs ranging from selling life insurance to working with people from refugee backgrounds and coordinating volunteers for a major refugee NGO, to a healthy stretch of customer service in the retail sector. As a mature aged student Ian completed a Bachelor of Arts degree in International Studies. Ian spent two years (2011 & 2012) at Rangjung Higher Lower Secondary School in eastern Bhutan with his wife, Vicky Chartres who was teaching at Rangjung Higher Secondary School. During his time at RLSS Ian taught English to grades 4, 5, 7 & 8. This year he hopes to continue to learn and grow as well as contributing to education in Bhutan.

story from the field

Teacher’s Day!

Today, May 2nd is not only the anniversary of the birth of the 3rd King of Bhutan, it is also Teacher’s day. It is a day when the teaching profession is honoured for being what it is, a noble calling.

“Thank you teacher, I can read this.”

I know the students have been working hard to do their best today, I have seen the lines of girls practising their steps in time. I have also seen the behind the scenes workers carrying cassette recorders, writing out ideas, thinking hard and generally working towards making today a big success.

I began my journey through formal education nearly 50 years ago now. At that time teachers mainly used the chalk and talk technique to help us learn our lessons. We didn’t have the many modern teaching aids like computers and TVs that many take for granted these days. Chalk and talk worked for me and countless others. Learning from your teachers is as much about having a good attitude as it is about the latest learning aids and gadgets. I can remember all of the teachers who taught me in my first years of school by name. They made a huge impact on me. I still think of them. I know that we teachers here today would be proud to think that you will remember us long into the future.

The momentous events of my childhood included man’s first steps on the moon with Neil Armstrong’s now famous words, “one small step for man, a giant leap for mankind.” There were wars and calamities, there was good news and bad news. It is much the same as now. You are inheriting a world challenged by the huge problem of Global Warming, of declining oil, gas and coal, of increasing water and food insecurity and conflict in many countries. Yet there are still good news stories, we can still overcome the difficulties that lay ahead. At least you can overcome them.

Learning is a life long journey, it doesn’t stop at the gates of the school nor does it cease when we graduate and begin our working lives. If your teachers and school life teach you the joy of learning then you have begun with the most important step on the journey through life. Learning is not just about teachers or schools or books. It is a process that allows us to develop and improve our lives by accepting the challenges and seeking the opportunities that will bring about real and lasting change for others and ourselves. When we decide to learn we decide to take responsibility for our actions, our futures and ourselves. We all know that education plays a key role in the development of every nation and as a new generation of well educated and responsible citizens takes the lead in the ever changing world they begin by realizing the dreams and aspirations of the generation that came before them and they inspire those that come after them.

It may be hard for some of you to believe but we, your teachers were also once students. We were once the kids in the class. Some of us good, well behaved students, others of us not so.

My school in Melbourne Australia was a small community; much like ours is here in Rangjung. We had assemblies every Monday morning where we honoured the flag and saluted the Queen. We marched off to our classes a little prouder for having done so.

What joins and links us all together is our shared experience of being part of the global school community. Here in Bhutan children value the opportunity to attend school. Many of you are aware that your government and King are investing heavily in your futures by providing schools, and the necessary resources, which enable you to learn. This allows you to dream of a brighter future for yourselves, your families and your country. Through your own hard work and with the help and guidance of many teachers you can make those dreams come true.

Perhaps some of you even aim to become teachers yourselves. There is no doubt that being a teacher is one of the most satisfying jobs in the world. It is not the money we earn that makes it so but the difference that we are able to make in the lives of young people. As I have already mentioned as students you need to put in a lot of effort but learning is a collaborative process and it is the combination of your work and that of your teachers that really makes school a place where your knowledge grows, your ideas are expressed and your character and personality develop.

In the words of the Chinese thinker and educator Confucius, “I hear and I forget, I see and I remember, I do and I understand.” That makes experiential learning about 2,500 years old. I truly hope that you are spending your time at school doing and understanding.

I have only been in Bhutan a very short time and an even shorter time here in Rangjung LSS. I can however confidently say that the strength of our school community lies in the mutual respect we all have for each other. The love that each and every one of you has for your country, culture and way of life is a lesson to me.

As I said earlier, learning is a lifelong pursuit, so thank you all for listening and I too wish to thank you all, my teachers.