The Royal Thimphu College welcomed the 1st ever group of students and faculty members from Westminster College, Salt Lake City, Utah, USA this May, 2016. Westminster College is one of several educational institutes around the world with which RTC has an academic partnership. The partnership was established in 2015.
The 20 students and the 3 accompanying faculty spent 14 days in Bhutan, engaging in academic and field activities for the programme themed “Himalayan Science and Culture.” The group resided on-campus at the Executive Centre guest house and the on-campus apartments, and spent 8 days of their programme duration in the capital city. The group had the opportunity to talk with the President of RTC, and also interact with RTC students as well as attend lectures and discussions by local community leaders that were specifically organized for them, such as “Health system in Bhutan” by Dr. Gado Tshering, “Glaciology and natural hazards assessment and mitigation in Bhutan” by the chief Glaciologist Mr. Karma Toeb of Ministry of Economic Affairs, and “Advent of Buddhism + Medieval Theocratic Governance of Bhutan” by Venerable Khenpo Karma Lhendup, among others. The group also performed water chemistry measurement experiments, and attended several environment talks at RTC, the Renewable Natural Resources – Research & Development Centre (Yusipang), Lampelri Royal Botanical Park, and the College of Natural Resources.
Additionally the group spent two nights in Phobjikha Valley with local farmers / host families, giving them the chance to interact with them. Although the Black-Necked Cranes had already gone to their summer homes, the group was able to visit the injured bird “Karma” recuperating at the Black-Necked Crane Centre.
The programme, which was initiated by Professors Frank Black and Betsy Kleba, included short cultural visits to Punakha Dzong, Paro Taktshang, and other historical places such as the Memorial Chorten, Kuenselphodrang, and Dochula, where they had a spectacular view of Bhutan’s pristine environment and untouched mountains.