Update Karen State Hotel School

Dear Friends of the Learning Exchange Foundation.

Here is an important update on our progress in developing a hotel school and hotel in Karen State in Myanmar. This is first step in creating livelihoods for the 200.000 refugees living in the camps for over 50 years.

1. The Karen project is moving forward

2.We identified a 50 rooms hotel in the centre of Myawaddy,very suitable to set up the hotel school.

3. 150 Karen youth from the refugee camps are eagerly waiting to enroll into our school.

4. Jeroen Visser a Dutch hotelier and Rieki Crins ( founder and director of lef) preparing the field in Mae Sot and Karen State for the Hotel school and project related to the hotel school.

5. Myawaddy and Mae Sot are becoming a major hub for trade between Thailand and Myanmar. Thailand is building an international airport in Mae Sot and a 4 lane highway to connect Thailand with Yangon and Dawei a major harbor in Myanmar. A international standard 3 star hotel, restaurant, bakery and hotel school are a valuable addition to the border town Myawaddy.

6. We received a major donation from a friend of the Learning Exchange Foundation. This is an important start for our project.

7. One of the leading 5 star hotel chain in Asia, has shown interest in helping us develop the project.

Sogno Italia donated a professional espresso machine and 50 kilo coffee beans to the hotel school in karen State. Thank you Luca!!


With kind regards,

The board of the learning exchange foundation


Starlight hotel Myawaddy



Learning Exchange Foundation expands to Myanmar.

Karen Hotel School Project raising 100k dollars seed funding.

©Burma Link Aug. 14, 2013

Dear Friends,

I greet you all from a very hot Mae Sot in Western Thailand.

The Learning Exchange Foundation (LEF) has been asked to set up a hotel school for Karen refugee youth in Myawaddy, Karen State, Myanmar.

As you all know, until 2012, there was a bloody civil war in Burma and the ethnic minorities where became victims of this war. For example, the Karen people had to flee to refugee camps. Now there are several of these camps along the Thai border. These camps have been here for 60 years  and  there are more than 100.000 people living in these camp, with  50% under the age of 25. These young people receive education from various NGO’s but the education, and thus diploma, are not recognized by Myanmar and Thailand. These kids are stuck!

Tourism is booming in Myanmar and there is a huge demand for skilled hotel people.Our hybrid hotelschool ( hotel and school) is ideally placed to address the challenges and needs of the Karen people living in these refugee camps.

The Bhutan Hotel School is running well and will be monitored by the Swiss Bhutan Learning Exchange foundation.

I am reaching out to you to again ask for your financial support in establishing our hotel school in Myanmar. I, and the 100.000 refugees stuck in these camps would be eternally grateful if you made a contribution to (Karen Hotel School Project).

We need to raise US $ 100.000. Please support this important initiative. 

If you would like to have more information, please contact me

Thank you.

Stay well,



Via Bank Transfer:

Stichting Learning Exchange
Watteaustraat 36
1077 ZM Amsterdam

Rabo Iban :
NL37RABO 0154429791
Contact Rieki Crins

The second batch graduated and all found jobs


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This is what Kesang wrote on facebook:

Day to be remembered…. “Our graduation” we are the second batch of BIHT and I’m proud to be the part of BIHT. Thank you all the our mentors la chef Kelzang Dorji Memphis, chef Tshering Dema, sir Floris Pocerattu, madam Niki Kervezee, sir Tshering Phuntsho,sir Yeshi Tashi Gocha, sir Gyembo Dorji, madam Pema wang and madam Sapna Dits Siwa and thanks to the founder of BIHT Aum Rieki Crins

Thank you to all who donated to the foundation to make the dreams of these young Bhutanese come true. If you you would like to support the school you can make a donation here

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Rieki Crins and two distinct Bhutanese Lama’s will perform in New York at the Park Armoury from 13-26 September

To all our friends who live in New York or visit New York:


Offering Distinct Daytime and Evening Experiences, Commission Premieres at Park Avenue Armory September 13 – 25, 2016

Lama Tashi and Lama Phurba, two  Buddhist lama’s ( masters in Buddhist studies) and Rieki Crins are invited to take part of a very exiting project from well known  artist Taryn Simon in New York.

11 Cultures from all over the world come together for two weeks in New York in September and 2 week in May 2017 in London to perform the rituals of loss from their own cultures.

The lama’s from Bhutan will perform part of the Bardo, the Bhutanese death rituals.

You are welcome to visit this wonderful event.

Hope to see you in New York.


Lonely Planet: “It will be the best meal you have in Bhutan”


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So proud of our restaurant in Bhutan. Wow! My dream came true, can you imagine, 5 years ago I dreamed of a hotelschool and a restaurant that train underpriviledge  youth of Bhutan to promote Bhutanese culture with quality hospitality service and now we are open for 2 years. Our students find work in the best 5 star hotels in Bhutan , India and beyond. Thank you Piero Grandi, Adrien Rebord, Auke Thijssen, Niki Kervezee , Floris Pocerattu, Clara Blanc, Mr.Norbu, Mrs Yangki and all teachers of BIHT to make this amazing project happen. Also thank you to all the donors.

If you want to reserve a table or room contact: floris.bihtbhutan@gmail.com


Screen Shot 2016-07-22 at 11.03.17


Help Kinley

Please meet Kinley


Kinley is one of the best students of the Bongde Institute of Hospitality and Tourism ( our Hotel school) in Bhutan. Kinley has a dream and this dream is to do an internship in The Netherlands, for 3 months in a hotel or restaurant. This experience will broaden her horizon and she can use this experience to improve her skills and which is also beneficial for Bhutan. Her parents are self-subsistent farmers and have no means of helping her financially.

We need USD 1500,– to cover her travel to the Netherlands. I am asking you to sponsor her with a small donation or a big one.

For Dutch citizens, the donation is tax deductible  via Learning Exchange Foundation:

Bank Account:Dutch iban: NL37RABO 0154429791

For Swiss citizens, the donation is tax deductible via Swiss foundation Bhutan Learning Exchange Foundation:

Bank Account: Credit Suisse Verbier
IBAN : CH23 0483 5111 5811 3100 0

Donations via paypal

We are very grateful for your help!!!

Best, the Learning Exchange board and the BIHT team.

The hotel school, the second year

For 3 weeks I was at the Bongde institute for hospitality and tourism, our hotel school in Bhutan. The first batch of students is now almost finished with their internship and all of them can find work in the hotels is Bhutan; there is a great need for them.

Two new trainers from the Netherlands Niki and Floris are now taking over from Auke and Adrien and they will train the Bhutanese trainers and manage the insitute for the coming year.

I like to share with you the story of Shankar, Shankar a skinny boy from the south of Bhutan was a bit of a troublemaker when he came to our school. He was arrogant, tried to sneak out of classes and wanted to go to clubs at night. After he got strictly disciplined, he changed and became a good student. Now he is doing an internship in a Bhutanese 3 star plus hotel. I spoke to him, he told me because of his good training at our institute -he is now teaching all the staff in the hotel where he is doing the internship. His eyes were beaming and his dream is to become a butler. Such a nice story and also to see that the kids are becoming ambitious.

The second batch in our school is very talented. We have young cooks who learn fast and all are very eager to learn. I talked a lot to the students and many of them are from such poor backgrounds. Like Kinley, a beautiful young girl, her parents are farmers but they do not own land, they are sharecroppers, this means they have to work on the land of other people and they get 40% of the yield. They have a small home garden where they grow chilies and some plants that they can sell. Basically these people hardly have access to money and have to live from the land.For Kinley the education in our school can help her to create a better future and she can get out of the circle of poverty.

Bhutan is not the country of gross national happiness, when you hear the stories of the youth, they are heartbreaking: prostitution is on the rise and specially with western tourists, human trafficking (girls are sold into prostitution in India) and so many children are born without a father are not regarded Bhutanese citizen and therefore have no access to state sponsored schools and other facilities, there is alcoholism, domestic violence toward women and drug abuse. This is mainly due to lack of scope for the young people.

I want to end this blog with a positive note, Bhutan is a very beautiful country, the people are friendly and it has such a unique heritage, spirituality and culture. It’s a gem in the Himalaya, its not Shangri la: it’s a country in transition, one foot in the 19e century and the other in the 21-century. Bhutan needs time to find its way.

We want to thank the Nelis van Dril Foundation, The Triodos Foundation, The DT Family Foundation, EHL Smile Foundation and the Johanna Donk-Grote Stichting and many more for their generous contributions. We are very grateful.IMG_0905The trainers: Niki and Floris in the middle, with the Bhutanese trainers and Auke and Adrien