Stories & Endeavors

My Story: Jigme Singye Wangchuck School of Law and Us

 

     

“What will you become?” asked one of the village men. “Thrimpon?”

With the big bright smile, I replied, “I don’t know. I’ll be very learned in future.”

I looked back when I first applied to the first ever Law School in the history of Bhutan. How inadvertently I got into Law.

No matter where you come from, no matter what you do, there are stories, untold and forgotten. The anecdotes unshared, the commonness of the roots uncomprehended and the glorious memories perish into the wisp of uncatchable voices.

I inscribe this to keep my moments eternally alive and make this stand tall and different. The connections associated is going to define something in unexpectedly big ways through the ravages of the changing times. With this, I try my best to displace myself into uncountable moons back by spanning every moment that counted. The post I write here might sound rhetoric and portray the abstract ideals but it connects us with what we were, how the life changes and what you are meant to do. I share the common goodness in connecting the world, enriching the relationships and making our days counted.

 Here comes the story. How did I matriculate into the Law School?

It was one of the cold winter days in the month of November, 2016. The piquant day was engulfed by the roaming clouds and the hidden sun. I was in Lumitsawa. The hinterland away from the main highway just below Dochula Pass.  It was there, where my true journey began. The journey appropriating the directions of where I will go.

As I remember, it was around 5 o’clock in the evening that I wondered if our Royal family have their personal Facebook account. I typed the name of our Great Fourth, “Jigme Singye Wangchuck”, and right before me came the name, “Jigme Singye Wangchuck School Of Law.”

I cavorted joyfully into the page. There was a post announcing that those class 12 of 2016 and previous years may apply to the Law college latest by today.

That was the last day to apply for the Law School admission which I was completely oblivious that this existed.

It was 2015 when I completed my second years in high school. I stayed whole of 2016 in my village looking at the avenues of health studies until I realized that my physics results could not meet the imposed criteria. I dreamt of becoming a Doctor. I declined every call I got for the in-country scholarships.

To be candid, I could not truly face the dreams shattered before my very eyes. It was my dream. For me, dreaming is an essential part of my life. Dream keeps my hope alive, persistence in every step I take. It is like a bright sun penetrating through the dark cloud to show the sign of warmth is coming.

To my deep contemplation, many days later, I realized what I spoke was not my voice. The choices I took was not my choice. The dreams may be collectively ours but the choices must be inherent of my own.

You might doubt why I said the above lines. The first reason is that I am an empathetic person. I wanted to help everyone. Secondly, apart from Dzongkha and English, I was good in Biology. These two reasons might give the strong support of why I wanted to be the Doctor.

Or you can understand this as a person having good reasons for failure.

The third reason was, I was told of the reputations, of the prospect of Health and the trail laid by the students doing outrageously well in Bio-Science. The ambition I had was quite irrational and budding. But the blind optimism proved to be so strong to deny the fact that I have to spend a fortune to go to achieve my dreams.

Later, I found myself to be the flexible person. A man has many dreams. A man’s dreams waiting to be achieved through the conscious choices he makes. It was in the first place when I knew nothing about Law School, that I wanted me to do something to walk every inch of earth, connecting people. Getting myself into the far-fetched villages and helping people.

I badly wanted to socialize, speak out and help people. I wanted to travel and the four corners of the hospital weren’t appropriate for me. Not for this case, after all.

To live a life, people say that we should do what we love and what excites us. But I further thought of the other ways too. We don’t always get to do what excites us. The thing that excites us must be unconditional and must ignite the fire inside us. So, when we don’t get to do things we want to do, there is also a trick of loving what you do eventually. Not doing what you love.

Perhaps the things you love isn’t the love after all. There are unconscious choices too.

I steer back to what happened that evening, when I was in Lumitsawa. Curiosity eventually landing me on Law School Page.

It is the choices we make, not the abilities that make who we are. There are  loads of abled person lost in their way, oblivious of the choices they have.

The link on the page took me through the JSW Law’s website and finally, a Google form appeared.

I looked over the fields and cautiously filled the required fields.

I don’t exactly remember receiving the reply but I do remember that I was accepted. They wanted me to send all the necessary documents within 10 working days.

Unexpectedly, the email arrived three days later, as I checked in the evening, asking me to send all the scanned documents. To my dismay, all the documents were in my village and even if they sent me the documents, I cannot send them because of overtly slow internet connections.

I wanted somebody to help me submit my documents but to my utter disappointment, I could not get the help from the two requests I sent to the elderly facebook friends.

Finally, I remembered my teacher of the middle school. He accepted to send the documents and do the necessary filling ups. It was almost near to the midnight, after the endless, mercurial uneasiness, I received a pdf file stating my application is successful.

And here, I shout out my immense gratitude, for making a difference. Sometimes, the ripples of doing one helpful thing spread far and wide.

The following days, I received many directions of what to do, where to do the Law School Admission Test (LSAT) for the entrance into Law School. I chose Trashigang because I had to take my nephew back to the village as his school would recommence very soon. And also, because Trashigang is near to Samdrup Jongkhar, the place where I lived.

It was on 3rd of March, 2017 that I received a call from USA. The prospect of going there, divided and lost half way. I was in very bad mood half of the day, until I received a call from Law School stating that I was one of the 50 students shortlisted for the face-to-face interview to be conducted in Thimphu.

That day, I wanted something very badly, I wanted a help that the whole world conspires to help everyone.

That is the inadvertent entrance into Law. Maybe because I have something to give back. Therefore, I prudently take this step to refine, define and know my true self to understand all. I looked forward to learning how to approach conflict with different people helping them to convince what is right. As a law student, I’m very much enthusiastic to speak with conviction, act with poise and write with purpose, which is required in all aspects of our lives.

This is also going to polish me into versatile being who is conscientious.

It will give me an opportunity to enhance my eloquence in oratory skills. I’m going to benefit fellow citizens.

I also wanted to make aware of what is compelling and right to people.

     

Now, here I am. Here we are, all 25 of us.

 

If you have struggled hard to reach here, in this sentence, I am going to tell you what Jigme Singye Wangchuck School of Law is all about.

**

Jigme Singye Wangchuck School of Law is an evolution in the growing nation of Bhutan. It is the fortified pavement of the history kept alive through the undisputed urges for the better Bhutan. The students come from all walks of life, coming from as far as the extreme south, east and far western places sharing common goals and eventually becoming one big family.

Looking back, February 21, 2015, was the defining moment in the history of Bhutan. The foundation or the brainchild of the Law School must have been before in the visionary thoughts of our Kings but the reality of this thought was realized only when the pragmatic actions began to build the foundation for what we have now as the Jigme Singye Wangchuck School of Law.

The changing socio-political aura demonstrated the need for the strong legal system backed by the native Bhutanese Lawyers who are thoroughly trained in Bhutanese values, ethics, and culture, and at the same time well versed with international affairs.

That day, with the granting of the Royal Charter from the Golden Throne, finally began to take shape of the best Law School in the world for generations.

The Royal Charter envisages the following. In the heart of the vision lies the epitome of what the law school must be.

“The Charter establishes the law school as an autonomous not-for-profit tertiary educational institution. It sets as the law school’s objectives not only to provide legal education but also, to facilitate research and to promote cultural enrichment and traditional Bhutanese values. The Charter recognizes the importance of the law school in promoting the rule of law to ensure a fair and just society and, ultimately, to the peaceful co-existence, unity, happiness and well-being of the Bhutanese people, and the security and sovereignty of the nation.”

This charter truly reminds us of why we exist, where we should go and ultimately what we need to do. The path wealthy with full of promises for understanding the core of one’s life.

The President of this Law School is dynamic, wise and graceful Her Royal Highness Princess Sonam Dechan Wangchuck supported by the Governing Council chaired by the Chief Justice of Bhutan, Lyonpo Tshering Wangchuk, and the Law School administration.

The giant edifices of our School stand on the hill, distant from the uninvited disturbances at the place called Pangbisa in Paro, and it is on the verge of completion.

Until its completion, we are based in Taba, roughly one and a half kilometers away from the Taba-Dechenling road. The place away from the thick crowds and meandering vehicles. The place where we study is serene, tranquil and thickened with Pine meadows.

After the firm establishment of the law school’s vision, missions and the policies, what strikes me is the quality of education we are going to get. The learning that starts from meticulously questioning the pre-existence of untold and unrevealed aspects of Bhutanese law carefully amalgamated with Buddhist values, norms, and philosophy.

We are to look into matters critically, analytically and bring out the material shreds of evidence supported with seriously thoughtful discourses. We are to work hard, passionately and smartly, articulate indispensable ideas backed by experiences and deep contemplations. We are told these are the most valuable assets to us.

To achieve these goals, we are supported by the extremely brilliant Western Professors and Bhutanese Professors. These Professors are the ones who paint a vision more compelling and important for us to live by it.

What makes our Law School different from other colleges is not because of the opulent dorms we get, neither because of the best infrastructural facilities we have but because of the ‘very onset’ rich cultural grandeur and the height of academic discourse with invaluable visions of the institute as our North Star.

It is the Bhutanese law school. It has academic courses on par with internationally famed law schools but our endogenous culture and traditional Bhutanese values are hallmarks of the school. The presence of courses based on traditional education, human values, and responsibilities, diverse form of western legal subjects and unique ‘Alternative Dispute Resolutions’. Knowing all these is an obvious gift we get and in turn a gift to the democratically growing nation.

Apart from the talented teachers, unique and prudent steps taken, the School is governed by the Student Governing Body. The prefects and the councilors were selected through Electronic Voting Machine. The choices for the best candidates, able and willing to maintain the smooth running of the School. The steps of what Democracy is all about.

Now, this is the second semester of the first year. Reclaiming our memories and chronicling the events of last semester, I write here:

It was on July 3rd, we were received with the gusto of change. We were given the grand and elaborate welcoming celebrations in the few days. With coming days, we got acquainted amongst 25 of us.

The bridging course or the orientation sessions for a month was such an amazing moment. The days were consumed by introductions, excitements and the visit to different significant places.

That was exactly what was best for us. We were ushered into the chambers of the prominent figures in Bhutan’s everyday action and consequences. This event gave us new directions and fortified the fact that our faith and fate remains inseparably bound. It gave us the notice that we as a future lawyer has a great role to play.

Moreover, the busy days also began with inception or initiation of morning and evening prayers, The Drolmai Cho Ku (Ritual of 21 Taras.) for two hours every Saturday morning.

The weekly Coffee Culture where with the helpful sponsors, brings us together in the Recreational Hall. We drink Coffee and share our hardships, insights, stories and other poignant invaluable ideas. This is going to help us speak out when the times come.

We also went through rigorous discipline training called Driglam Namzha. The first step of the acclivity towards making a difference. The days were also packed with visiting lecturers, honorary guests, ministers and many VIPs.

We were taken through the subjects we never learned before. We learned Economics. We learned how to think differently in small ways. We learned Tort Law, Rigzhung (Ngagdoen and Sumchupa), Extensive Legal Writing and Western Philosophy.

As I remember, I was mesmerized by how the Plato’s Philosopher King fits the present day King of ours. The king who is morally and intellectually fit to rule, the king with the highest knowledge of reality, of the goodness and virtues.

The history kept alive and not even past as the good culture and social harmony persevered, playing role in our own Bhutanese way that fully contained the mixed form of government having prototype of federal system in the past and unitary form in today’s arena of running the nation.

At times, we also realized that none of us are as smart as all of us and started a team building works and accepted the notion of I am because we are.

Further, the beginning is always the toughest but it is also true that tough gets you moving. I admit studying law is undoubtedly the hardest thing to do. But if the thing is not challenging, it is a bulwark towards growth.

I also recall the moment, the gracious surprise of the Great Fourth King visiting our campus one evening. He advised us that wherever we go, there  is nothing more important than our behavior and the manner we show. That, whether we are highly learned or climbed the ladder of success, it is useless if we don’t possess the values and good behaviors. He also advised us not to be meek and stand our ground to be a good human being. We were so touched by his Majesty’s counsel.

For a moment, I suddenly realized how blessed we are with the dynamic and farsighted Protectors.

And we are the hopes of everyone. The hopes of building the better societies if not large, in a small way. The hopes of those who think that they have larger roles to play but could not achieve. The hopes of a farmer who needs a good and peaceful life. The hopes of people clogged by injustice looking for the brighter days.

Our Law School bears the name of The Great Fourth. And this is no small thing for us. This is the enlightening gift for us, that is calling upon us to be compassionate, thoughtful and selfless in our services to the Tsa Wa Sum.

With coming days we have a greater role to play in the league.

There will be the need for rooting out corruptions, coming out with policies for harmonious Bhutan, seeing out the developmental activities and sharing the common goals with everyone in the country. There is a need for extreme legal research, taking Gross National Happiness to the higher level. There is also a need for taking wise and pragmatic steps and steering ourselves into Peaceful and Sustainable Future.

Thank You!

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