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May 15
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Teaching English in Bhutan
Bhutanese boys from the

Bhutanese boys from the Sewala region

By David McDonnell

The following was recently posted to sangha-announce, and the Shambhala Times got in touch with the author for more information, which follows…

I’m a Shambhala member from Prague, Czech Republic, and last year I responded to a advertisement on sangha-announce about an English teaching position in Bhutan.

Now I’m up here in the Himalayas teaching the monks at Sewala Monastery, and I put together a newsletter to show everyone what’s going on. I hope you’ll enjoy the small articles and photos about life here at the monastery. Download a copy of the newsletter.

Monks studying in Sewala Monastery

Monks studying in Sewala Monastery

Of course, the main idea is also that we are searching for sponsors because this is one of the poorest monasteries in Bhutan. There is a short article on the last page of the newsletter about projects we need help with. In particular, we urgently need to install some proper toilets.

You’ll be glad to know that His Eminence Jamgoen Truelku Rinpoche, head of Sewala Monastery and one of the four highest reincarnated Rinpoches in the Kingdom of Bhutan, is very open to the idea of inviting visitors to come here for short-term retreats. Next week we will have our first retreatant from Singapore coming for three weeks. Please get in touch with us, and we can continue to make a good connection between Shambhala and the Land of the Thunder Dragon!

After corresponding with David about his work at Sewala, Shambhala Times received the following:

David McDonnell, Shambhala Times' man in Bhutan

David McDonnell, Shambhala Times

About me–Originally from North Carolina, I moved to Prague, Czech Republic in 1994 to touch velvet freedom and teach English. A desire for freedom led to Buddhism and I joined the Shambhala Prague community in 2000, attended sutryana seminary at Karme Choling in 2004, and became a student of Khenchen Thrangu Rinpoche in 2007.  I went on pilgrimage to Bodhgaya and the Kagyu Monlam in December 2008, and then flew from India to Bhutan in February 2009 to teach English for one year at Sewala monastery. My plans are to return to Prague, and to return regularly to Bhutan to teach but for shorter periods.

Two of the monastery's teachers

Two of the monastery's monastic instructors

Jamgoen Truelku Rinpoche was in the United States for the first time last year to take English classes at University of Colorado, Boulder. He also taught a little when he was in Hawai’i, where they composed a short bio about him online. Read the biography.

As you may know, the visa restrictions to Bhutan are quite strict, and visitors have to pay about $250 per day. However, most of the visitors are not Buddhists. Rinpoche is now going to speak with the Prime Minister to see if he can get this fee waived so that people could come and do retreat. He has some land away from the monastery and is talking to builders now about making some retreat huts. Hopefullly if everything goes well, we can offer retreat from about 2 weeks up to 3 or 6 months in Bhutan with no visa requirements. This would be wonderful for the monastery to make some money, and also for the sangha to be able to come here and practice! So, that is the vision at the moment.

David McDonnell has more photos of Bhutan and India on his Facebook page. He invites Shambhalians to befriend him there – be sure to say you’re from Shambhala!

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8 responses to “ Teaching English in Bhutan ”
  1. thank you. i would like to know whether any English post is there

  2. Dennis Ondek
    Jan 31, 2013

    Hello David,

    I, too, am interested in finding out more about teaching ESL in Bhutan. Specifically, I would like to live in a monastery and teach. I have done so in Nepal in 2011. Any information you can provide would be appreciated. BTW, your FACEBOOK link in the article from Shambhala Times does not work. So, I have no other way to contact you.


  3. Hello David,
    I have just read your website with interest. I am a trained ESL teacher with over 15 years experience. I’m now based in Australia -but would love to come and teach in Bhutan and practise meditation. Could you possibly let me know how.
    With thanks.

  4. Josphine Ng chui Lam
    Jan 4, 2012

    I traveled to bhutan twice in 2011 and I really love this wonderful country. As a primary teacher and school librarian, I would like to teach in Bhutan Pryschool . I would also teach Mandarine too!!

    Would you please tell me how to apply for a teacher in Bhutan. I also want to be a volunteer teacher in the rural area as I know there are many children can’t go to school by many reasons.

    So hope you can help me and give me some information about that!!

    I’ve search some school from the web-site, but I only get their school names without school address. Would you tell me how can I get the school address so that I can send my application letter and CV to the Principal?

    Thanks for your help!! I’m looking forward for your reply!!

    Best Regards,

    Jo from Hong Kong

  5. Barbara Bennett in Cleveland, Ohio, USA
    Dec 30, 2010

    David, Thank you for your website and information. I am an ESL, English as a Second Language, teacher interested in teaching in South Asia or The Middle East. Yesterday I had the pleasure of working with
    refugees from Bhutan which has attracted me to teach in this country.

    Can you direct me to a school or school that I may send my resume and interest to?
    I thank you for your time and Happy New Year.

  6. Dani Golden
    Nov 14, 2010

    Hello! I am an English teacher in America. I have been teaching for about 5 years. I have visited Bhutan and loved it. I was wondering if there were any opportunities to teach in Bhutan? Thanks! Dani

  7. David, I will have my teaching degree in 5 years. I want to teach english in bhutan. Will all fees be waived for those who wish to teach, even if not buddist? david

  8. I am very pleased to study the Shambala Buddhism/Dhamma spreading efforts worldwide. I really appreciate your propagation of Buddha’s teachings, contribution to the Buddhist followers and teaching of meditations to the Buddhist devotees.As a Lay Buddhist, I request to all Shambala authorities to provide the facilities of Buddhism/meditation learning to our Buddhist monks/Samaneras/ nuns and lay Buddhists of Bangladesh by providing community sponsorships.
    May be happy all living beings of the universe.

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