Gongsar Ugyen Wangchuck with a sword in his hand, portraits of kings with the Raven Crown, a man on a horseback brandishing a sword, people offering khaddar to a man -supposedly to be the First King.

These were the expressions of the students of Wangsel Institute for the Deaf in Paro who participated in an art competition on the theme “National Day.” Titled Art-bilities: Expressions through art, the competition was organised by Kuensel Corporation Ltd. More than 30 students competed in the competition that was divided into three categories to include all students from grade four to 10. 

The prizes were awarded yesterday coinciding with the International Day of People with Disabilities (IDPD).  “We wanted to let the students express what the National Day meant for them through drawings and art. The expressions are wonderful,” said a Kuensel manager. 

Meanwhile, in Paro, at the Le Meridian Riverfront where the day was observed, the students of Wangsel Institute stole the show. Sharing experience in sign language, dancing to rigsar without hearing the music and sharing stories moved the hearts of those gathered at the hotel to observe the IDPD. Le Meridian Riverfront supported the institute to celebrate the day. The board of directors also contributed Nu 21,000 to the students’ saving accounts besides hosting the event.

There were no sign of disabilities as the students, with the help of interpreters, broke down the communication barrier and engaged the audience. The students enthralled the unexpected guests with a performance to Louis Armstrong’s 1967 hit, “What a wonderful world.” 

Teachers and instructors engaged the audience in applauding the winners and performers in sign language. “If we want to break the communication barrier, more and more people should learn sign language,” said the institute’s principal, Dechen Tshering. The institute has seen an increasing number of deaf children come to them. From three in 2003, there are 110 students at the institute today.

The institute also has a research unit that is collecting signs so that all deaf people could speak the same sign language.  “We want to bring all deaf people together. Signs come from the deaf, we do not develop them,” he said. 

The principal also called on the audience to help send deaf children to the institute. Sharing success of graduates, some of them teaching at the institute, the principal said that only education could change their lives for the better. “That is inclusiveness,” he said.

Staff Reporter