Today, I was truly honored to receive the prestigious Bronze Medal and a certificate of recognition signed by His Majesty the King as a token of appreciation for my ten years of dedicated service to the Royal Government of Bhutan. As an ordinary civil servant, I really feel blest to be recognized for whatever little contribution I have been able to make through my organization over the past decade. As His Excellency the Minister of Education, Lyonpo Norbu Wangchuk who graced the award ceremony said, the medal and the certificate do not only represent the success of my career so far, but they also serve as a great source of inspiration and motivation for me to continue to work hard and contribute more to the country in the times to come.
When I first joined the service as Assistant Counsellor in the Department of Youth and Sports under the Ministry of Education in 2007, my Director, Dasho Sonam Tobgay had told me that starting a new career is like a river at its source. It starts with a small stream and grows into a river only on its way downstream. Today is the moment for me to look back to that very first day in office and celebrate every piece of success I have achieved so far on my career path.
To be honest, I had a very rough start. As the first visually impaired counsellor in the country, it was not easy for me to break the common traditional belief of people around me that the counselling profession is only for those who can see. The Division I was supposed to join refused to own me and I spent almost a month without doing anything. I had to take my first salary with the greatest sense of guilt because I did not feel I deserved it. Every time I met my director, he would advise me that I should continue to observe for sometime and learn how my colleagues are working so that I can get some ideas before I start my actual job. He was very supportive and believed that I could do my job once I got familiar with the system. But I always felt guilty of being idle. There was nobody to either guide me or give me responsibilities. This was actually the most crucial phase of my career as it marked the biggest milestone of my life: the dream I had pursued for more than 15 years studying in different schools and colleges. I was too excited about my new job and I had wanted to contribute to the best of my abilities and knowledge. But when things did not go as expected, I started to get frustrated with the system. A few people even questioned me how will I be able to work with clients when I can’t even see their non-verbal cues. I had my own justification in response but that did not seem to convince them that I can be a good counsellor even without sight.
Finally, some of my colleagues advised me that I should move to the Youth Center where I will have ample opportunities to work with young people as there was no counsellor at the Center. Although I was not a professional counsellor at the time, I decided to join the Center because I could foresee many opportunities there for both personal and professional growth. It was at the Youth Center that I first got the chances to prove my capabilities and demonstrate that given the opportunities, I can also do a lot of things despite being visually impaired. I requested my boss not to hesitate to assign me any responsibility because I wanted to try it out and learn from the experiences. As a result, I started getting numerous assignments ranging from writing the minutes of meetings and preparing other official documents to designing and implementing youth development programs. My colleagues were gradually convinced that with advanced computer technology, I had no problem carrying out my prescribed duties in the office. Today, I feel very much part of my organization and I have been entrusted with so many important responsibilities such as managing projects, designing and implementing programs and providing counselling services to young people. Perhaps because I had a bitter experience at the beginning of my career, I take the initiative to guide and support any new official who joins my office right from the first day. I can’t leave them alone because I know how it feels like to be neglected especially when you are in a new environment.
Despite all the challenges, the past ten years have been very fruitful for me. I got enough opportunities to develop relevant experiences and expertise in the field of youth work. Having availed Masters Degree in counselling from Curtin University of Technology in Western Australia and with 2 timely promotions in my career so far, I have a special reason to be proud of my achievements over the past ten years. The award I have received today has certainly motivated me to continue to strive for excellence in whatever I do. I shall continue to keep in mind the noble vision of His Majesty the King when I go to work every day and dedicate myself to the service of the king, country and people of Bhutan forever.
(The writer blogs at amrithdiary.wordpress.com)