Site Visit to Bhutan

Posted: September 19, 2019

This past May, SFS hosted 14 guests from colleges and universities across the US (and Switzerland!) at the SFS Center for Himalayan Environment and Development in Bhutan. The group spent a week on the ground getting to know our program staff and exploring field sites across the country. Daniel pulled out all of his creative stops to write the following poem about his experience on the visit.

Are We There Yet?

Tired and disoriented, they greeted us with smiles, juice, and delicate flower bracelets. The gentle dance of group bonding began. Buddhas, smiles, and laughs were omnipresent; guiding our way through the unfamiliar sights, sounds, and practices. Overrun with awe and excitement, Drukair wings lifted us to the Thunder Dragon’s lair. Entry was simple, our paths paved long ago through the hard work and accomplishments of our honorable hosts. Compassionate white khata tickled our necks, followed by warm embraces; both from known and new faces.

Are We There Yet?

Like Guru Padmasambhava riding his tigress, we traveled the land seeing beauty, gaining insight, and finding the sacred. Our hosts, guides, friends, patiently nurtured our eager minds. At no one specific point did we synchronize; like the four friends, Emma Datsi, the yoni & lingam, we belonged together.

Are We There Yet?

Bold colors, significant symbols, a country blossoming candidly showed us a place of transition, straddling its past and future. Stray is a misnomer, these dogs keep the sacred secrets of the streets, the land, the people. Their happy presence shows an endlessness to the gross exuberance.

Are We There Yet?

This journey might be over, but the story is not. The memories will follow us for lifetimes, the feelings harbored deep in our hearts. Forever in debt, we continue to grow with Bhutan in our minds. With kiras and ghos on our backs, we hope that others may follow asking still,

Are We There Yet?


Site visit guests with SFS Dean, Dr. Mark Seifert sport traditional Bhutanese kiras and ghos. Photo credit: Lora Doughty


Site visit guest, Julian Avery from Penn State University spins a prayer wheel. Photo credit: Lora Doughty


SFS staff members Olivia Ghiz (Admissions), Molly Hurst (Safety and Student Life), and Lora Doughty (Marketing and Site Visits) show off their kiras. Photo credit: Lora Doughty


Site visit guests and SFS staff begin the hike to the famous Tiger’s Nest Monastery. Photo credit: Lora Doughty

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