It has been a little over a month since we arrived in Bhutan, and what an exciting whirlwind it has been so far. We’ve seen giant hydropower plants, monkeys on the side of the road, crazy tall mountain passes, and exciting cultural festivals. Our positions as Program Interns have allowed us to connect with local people in Paro and given us insight into the role Buddhism plays in Bhutan, Bhutanese agricultural practices, wildlife conservation, traditional family life, and the progress of development throughout the country.
As part of the student life team, our jobs primarily focus on promoting the health and happiness of the students here. To accomplish some of these goals, we have organized trivia nights and nerd nights (an opportunity for students to give a presentation or speak for fifteen minutes on something they are passionate about, research that they have done, or a trip that they’ve taken, etc.), a soccer match between the students and staff, outdoor movie nights, a ping pong tournament, and a tradition of Sunday night bonfires. Through these activities, we aim to bring students together outside of academics so they can further share their interests with one another and connect with people from the community.
And much of the semester is still ahead of us. Planned for the future, we have a soccer match against a local team from the College of Education, of which the daughter of an SFS staff member is a part. Additionally, there are many opportunities for visits to local monasteries, park cleanups, day hikes, and much more that will continue to ground the students in this magical place where they have chosen to spend 3 months of their life.
A family of Rhesus macaque observes passers-by as our SFS bus slows down for students to capture photos. Photo courtesy of Emma Johnson
On Saturday September 30th, the students visited the Thimphu Tshechu, one of the largest religious festivals in the country where a number of masked and costumed dances are performed. Photo courtesy of Greg Francois
Students gather for a photo amongst prayer flags at Chele La Pass after an alpine birdwatching session with Mountain Ecology professor, Dr. Dina Roberts. Photo courtesy of Greg Francois
Emma and Molly enjoy a cup of tea in the company of a monk from one of the local monasteries. Photo courtesy of Molly Mansfield