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Camille Blackford in Bhutan

Land of the Thunder Dragon, home of the Thunder King

February 3, 2020 3:30 PM
Bhutan, Land of the Thunder Dragon, home of the Thunder King, Queen and Prince (soon to be princes). A small Buddhist country situated in the Himalayan mountains between two of the largest countries in the world: India and China. A country that most people do not even know about. This is where I will be studying abroad for the Spring 2020 semester. My name is Camille Blackford and I am a junior here at UMBC. I am a Humanities Scholar and am majoring in cultural anthropology and minoring in Korean. While most people might not even know that Bhutan is a country, it is a place I have dreamed of going for years. In recent years Bhutan has become famous for two things: their gross national happiness measure and the fact that they are a carbon negative country. The idea of gross national happiness as a replacement of gross domestic product is precisely what drew me into learning more about Bhutan. My mom likes to watch CBS Sunday Morning News every Sunday and one day while I was watching it with her, they did a segment on Bhutan focusing on their gross national happiness measure. Ever since then I became fascinated with the country and wanted to learn everything I could about the country and the culture. It has been my dream to travel to Bhutan and I am so excited to be studying abroad there! While I am there, I hope to be taking anthropology courses and a Dzongkha (the language of Bhutan) course at a college in the capital of Bhutan: Thimphu. I will also be doing an internship teaching elementary grade students at a local school as well! My program also offers various excursions around the country and I can’t wait to see all the beautiful forests and Buddhist temples! I am really looking forward to becoming totally immersed in the culture and learning everything I can about the country and its people. While I have traveled abroad in the past to Canada, England, Ireland and Wales, I have never been to a country like Bhutan before. I am looking forward to being in a place I am totally unfamiliar with and learning about a culture that may not seem anything like my own. I am also looking forward to becoming more in touch with my religion while I am there. Despite the fact that I grew up Catholic, I have recently converted to Buddhism and I can’t wait to learn more about the history of Buddhism in Bhutan while I am there!
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