Beyond The Sky And The Earth

Beyond The Sky And The Earth

A Journey Into Bhutan

Book - 1999
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In 1989, Jamie Zeppa, a naïve, well-educated twenty-three-year-old from Sault Ste. Marie, commits to a two-year teaching contract in Bhutan against the wishes of both her fiancé, Robert, and her controlling grandfather. Following orientation here and in Bhutan, Jamie is unceremoniously dropped at a remote Bhutanese village to teach Grade Two. There, she battles fleas, landslides, rats, kerosene stoves, leeches, and illness, and believes she will not survive two weeks, let alone two years. With help from her eight-year-old students, Jamie overcomes her culture shock and fear, makes some friends, and soon begins her love affair with Bhutan. She writes letters home full of wonder and discovery--of the country, of herself, and of Buddhism. As she spends more time in this strange and beautiful country, Jamie finds herself attracted to one of her college students, Tshewang, with whom she eventually has a child and marries. Like Karen Connelly'sTouch the Dragon, Beyond the Sky and the Earthis the compelling story of a Westerner trying to fit in to an alien culture, and trying to bridge cultural and political divides that may be insurmountable. The doors of Paro airport are thrown open to the winds. The little building with its single stripe of tarmac is set in the middle of dun-coloured fields dotted with mounds of manure. The fields are carved into undulating terraces edged with sun-bleached grass; intricate footpaths lead to large houses, white with dark wooden trim. A young girl in an ankle-length orange and yellow dress, two horses, three cows, a crow in a leafless willow tree. An ice-blue river splashing over smooth white stones. A wooden cantilever bridge. Above the bridge, on a promontory, a massive fortress, its thick white walls tapering towards the top, a golden spire flashing on the dark red roof. My bags are lying alone on the tarmac outside, beneath furiously snapping flags. I haul them in. I have arrived.
Publisher: Toronto : Doubleday Canada, c1999.
ISBN: 9780385256933
0385256930
Branch Call Number: 954.98 Zep
Characteristics: 303 p.

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blueskies100
Apr 22, 2013

Very good book. I really liked that it was an out of country experience by a regular (non-wealthy) person. Teaching english overseas is an option available to the regular person. I liked that she addressed the culture shock both there and returning home. She also addressed the "over-romanticising" that happens when traveling to a third world country. Every country has its problems, there is no shangrila.

Constantson Apr 26, 2011

Eat, Love, Pray wishes it were this good.

c
cfchiasson
Oct 23, 2009

A very entertaining read - made me want to learn much more about Bhutan! Jamie Zeppa provides very frank discussion of her experiences with cultural differences and her ability to reconcile them (or not), so the ending is somewhat of a letdown. However, this is only a minor drawback in a really captivating story.

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