Throwadrak. Photo by Chelsae Ferrell

Bhutan

Happiness in the Himalayas

A 4-Week Summer Abroad Program

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Duration
31 Days
Description

Explore a Himalayan culture where “happiness” has become a measure of national development. Homestays and intimate community connections help unveil unique Buddhist worldviews.

Dates

Jun 28 - Jul 29, 2019


Suggested Ages

15-18

Number of Participants

12


Availability

Accepting Waitlist

Begins In

14 Weeks

Land Cost

$8,830


Estimated Flight Cost

$2,100

Paro

Thimphu

Jakar

Kathmandu

Program Overview

In a country where the phrase "Gross National Happiness" lands itself on a list of key metrics for development, Bhutan encourages us to ask what we can learn about notions of "happiness" as contributors to our own quality of life.


Our journey into the Himalayan region of Bhutan gives us rare access to the sacredness in the vast and wild landscapes, challenging us to reevaluate commonly held notions of our role in the natural world.  

We learn how Buddhism, as the state religion, has had deep social impacts, particularly on the creation of unique government policies on conservation, preservation, and sustainable development. We also delve deeply into Buddhist philosophy, histories, and folk tales to understand drastically different ways of viewing our existence on this planet. We seek to understand how these embodied philosophies impact people’s daily choices. Through listening to both local villagers and professional academics, we gain insights to perspectives on the environment, our role in conservation, and the concept of earth as an interdependent organism.

Since the arrival of television in…

Our journey into the Himalayan region of Bhutan gives us rare access to the sacredness in the vast and wild landscapes, challenging us to reevaluate commonly held notions of our role in the natural world.  

We learn how Buddhism, as the state religion, has had deep social impacts, particularly on the creation of unique government policies on conservation, preservation, and sustainable development. We also delve deeply into Buddhist philosophy, histories, and folk tales to understand drastically different ways of viewing our existence on this planet. We seek to understand how these embodied philosophies impact people’s daily choices. Through listening to both local villagers and professional academics, we gain insights to perspectives on the environment, our role in conservation, and the concept of earth as an interdependent organism.

Since the arrival of television in 1999 and a cascade of global influences, Bhutan has experienced a steady increase in foreign tourism which contradicts long-held traditions. How can we understand the pressures and adaptations of Bhutanese culture in the face of a globalizing world? In our questioning and exploration of Bhutan, we hope to find a better understanding of the worldviews and assumptions that shape our lives and happiness back home.

Read More Read Less Sample Itinerary

Program Components

4/5
Comparative Religion

Tibetan Buddhism, the state religion, can be found everywhere in Bhutan, from government policies to educational systems to everyday cultural practices. We explore Buddhism as a religion, life philosophy, and living practice.

5/5
Development Studies

Undergoing a drastic rural-urban shift, Bhutan is a country with a number of development topics to delve into and examine. Their "Gross National Happiness" index presents a fascinating counterpoint to the dominant development paradigm.

5/5
Focus Of Inquiry

Examining Bhutanese conceptions of happiness offers insights into unique cultural worldviews that dynamically interact with development and other topics we explore during the course.

3/5
Homestay

We have multiple opportunities to experience Bhutanese family life and cultural traditions. We have a 5-7 day homestay in a village of farmers famous for their wool yarn and weaving, and a number of single-home farmstays.

3/5
Independent Study Project (ISP)

Possible ISP topics include traditional medicine, arts and architecture, Bhutanese dress, archery (the national sport), and religious rituals and festivals.

2/5
Language Study

There are opportunities to learn the basics of Dzonghka and Bumthap while interacting with homestay families and villagers, and through more formal lessons.

2/5
Learning Service

We partner with local organizations and community members to engage in the central Bhutanese philosophy of reciprocity and service.

2/5
Rugged Travel

Traveling on Bhutanese roads is an adventure no matter what form of transport you choose! We use vans, buses, planes and our feet to carry us around the country.

3/5
Trekking

We have a 3-day trek that involves camping, as well as multiple opportunities for day hikes in the surrounding hills and mountains.