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Shauna West

Name

Shauna West

Location

Bartsham MSS, Trashigang

Level

7 - 11

Subjects

English

Hometown

Lake Louise, Alberta

Shauna was born and raised in the lovely maritime province of Nova Scotia where her key interests were sailing and skiing. Lured by the beauty of the Canadian Rockies, she moved west to the small ski hamlet of Lake Louise, Alberta at twenty years of age. Shauna is a graduate of Dalhousie University’s BA program with a major in English and the University of Calgary’s BEd program. A great love of cycle travel in several remote mountain regions of the world inspired a desire to visit and work in the Kingdom of Bhutan, where she taught for the 2011 school year. Shauna was placed at Bartsham Middle Secondary School in Trashigang, Eastern Bhutan, and taught English to grades 7 to 11 students.

Story from the field

First Day of School

It was Day One, in February 2011, a cool and dry winter morning at Bartsham Middle Secondary School when I first greeted my 9C English class. I walked into the room and cheerfully exclaimed, “Good Morning 9C!”

As expected, I received an equally enthusiastic reply from 34 standing and smiling teens. What I didn’t expect, however, was that this was where the discussion ended.

“Welcome back to school, 9C, how do you like to be back?” Answer: silence… You could literally hear a pin drop!

I realized then and there that the focus of the year was to promote speech in the class, to encourage both boys and girls to stand up straight and tall and speak confidently, not hunched over, a hand covering the mouth, mumbling speech as they burrow their gaze into the floor.

It took time, patience, and cultural understanding however the kids finally came around to realizing that English class is place of community, of sharing ideas, and of creativity.

By taking baby steps and injecting a good dose of humor into the classroom, students’ confidence increased and learning flourished.

Now on days when I hear those terribly shy kids suddenly pipe up in class, I feel the rush of pride and delight overwhelm my heart as I realize, “Oh yeah, THAT’S why I came here!