In just a few short weeks, we will all be meeting and beginning this incredible journey together. How the time has flown by! While you are all packing and preparing for the journey, we want to address a few important points regarding the use of technology during our course.
This semester will be an amazing opportunity to enhance your skills in being present – with your homestay families, community-members, peers, instructors, and Bhutan! As such, we will provide an opportunity for you to “unplug.” Many of the best travel moments arise when we least expect them, and we often miss them if we are cut off by headphones or a bright screen. Most Bhutanese folks don’t have as much tech stuff as some of us do, because it is cost-prohibitive or because it is simply unavailable, so our tech devices also often exhibit wealth disparity and draw unwanted attention. Here are a few specifics from our side about what to bring or leave at home:
– Devices: We ask you to please not bring any “devices” – phones, tablets, laptops, mp3 players, e-readers, virtual reality headsets, self-driving cars, or other such gadgets. If you do, we will hold onto them for the duration of the course and are not responsible for damage or loss.
– Cameras: Some students use cameras beautifully for artistic expression, connecting with local people, and sharing their experience with friends and family back home, while others choose to go camera-free to live more in the moment. This one is up to you to decide. A great option is to bring an instant-film camera and give away some photos to those you meet along the journey. If you do bring a camera, we encourage you to err on the side of small and inconspicuous. Furthermore, we advise against bringing one that you wouldn’t be willing to replace, as it may well be damaged by monsoon rains or bumpy roads, or lost. We will create a photo-share at the end of the course so that everyone has plenty to see, camera or no camera!
Finally, a note for families: You may not hear from your intrepid traveler as much as you are used to, because we will often be in places where the infrastructure does not allow for individual communications (instructors will have an emergency line of communication open at all times), and because we encourage our students to stay fully engaged in the course as much as possible. While internet and international phone lines are available in urban areas, we have found that overly frequent calls home can interfere with a student’s engagement and lead to homesickness. We will also be off having too much fun to stop for calls and emails all the time! We hope that you can appreciate the value of this not-so-frequent communication.
If you have any questions or concerns, you can always reach out to us by posting a yak. Don’t hesitate to do so; we are happy to discuss any of these points with you, and chances are that someone else is wondering about the same thing!
Can’t wait to meet you all soon!