A heartfelt Namaste and Kuzu Zangpo from the sunny mountain climes of the Himalayan valleys.
My name is Claire, I am originally from the UK although I have for many years called these Himalayan mountains my home, and I am currently writing to you from Kathmandu, Nepal. I have the great privilege of being one of your instructors for the coming summer in Bhutan. I am so excited that we will be embarking on this journey that really is a rare and unique opportunity to experience one of the remotest corners of our earth.
After falling in love with Nepal, in the most literal sense, the first time I came here, which was a volunteer trip when I was a teenager, I have spent my life finding ways to meaningfully return to this part of the world. I have now been living in Nepal for nearly a decade, running experiential trips here both around the cultural sites of the Kathmandu valley, and venturing high into the mountains and deep into the jungles and plains. I know that my relationship with this region will deepen as I have the privilege of going for the first time to the mountain kingdom of Bhutan.
Bhutan is has a powerful international reputation, and perhaps has a more permeating influence than would be expected given its tiny size and population. Its unique model of development has been studied the world over – prioritizing happiness over money, heritage over modernization and environment over economic development. It is the home of a unique form of Vajrayana Buddhism, that has been kept alive over centuries by thriving monastic communities in the remote mountains. And as the only carbon-negative country in the world, it is setting an example that not only harks back to a more sustainable past but also looks forward to what might be the only way that humanity will have a future.
These conversations represent the tip of the iceberg of all of the rich learning and powerful realizations we will have together as we travel around this remarkable country. I also can’t wait to discuss with you some of the topics that are very close to my heart – international development, and all the complex questions that accompany that, and “learning service” – asking how we engage in and contribute to the world effectively. If you want to have a preview of some of these ideas, you can read a book that I co-authored on this topic “Learning Service: The Essential Guide to Volunteering Abroad.”
My unswerving belief in positive social change, coupled with my faith in the transformative power of education and the inspiration I draw from working with young people, found a perfect synergy when I discovered Dragons. Every experience I have with Dragons is magical. Every experience changes the world. I want to thank you for making the choice to come on this program; you have already won my deepest admiration for that. This trip will challenge you to step outside your comfort zone in a way that nothing ever has, and if you embrace it, you are likely to have the most profound learning encounters of your life.
I can’t wait to meet you in a few short weeks, to discuss our hopes and goals and views of the world while sampling some Bhutanese “suja” – tea made with salt and yak butter!!
With excitement for the trip ahead, your instructor,