Ms. Chencho Om is a special education teacher in the Deaf Unit at Drukgyel Lower Secondary School, Paro, Bhutan. On January 22, 2012, Chencho had the opportunity to visit schools for hearing-impaired students in Switzerland and Germany for five weeks. In addition in 2008, Chencho also visited various special education schools in New York in a trip sponsored by the Bhutan Foundation to learn about various special education programs in the United States.
During her tour, Chencho visited vocational institutes for hearing-impaired students, where she was impressed by the facilities and programs being offered to the students. One of the programs that stood out the most was an internship program for students with hearing impairments. Being exposed to forward-thinking programs, Chencho decided that she would bring home some of these ideas so that she could implement similar programs in her school in Paro, Bhutan.
After returning from her trip, Chencho sought approval from the Special Education and Early Childhood and CareDivision , Ministry of Education, and took the initiative to introduce the internship programs for her hearing-impaired students. Chencho talked with different hotels and found twoâ€”Uma and Zhiwalingâ€”that accepted six students (two boys and two girls at Uma and two boys at Zhiwaling) from the Deaf Unit. These students interned in the hotels during their midterm break, which lasted for two weeks. Some of the vocational training acquired by the students included laundry, housekeeping, kitchen work, stewarding, and bakery work.
According to Chencho, the feedback received from the general managers was highly impressive, and she was advised to continue with such programs. Chencho reports, â€œThe internship helped my students tremendously, the most favorable being the change in attitude of people towards students with hearing impairment. It also allowed them to gain hands-on learning experiences, thereby creating job and employment opportunities. Creating awareness of sign language was another important and useful piece of feedback I got from the hotels.â€