Tag Archives: Bhutan

Why Darwin Is a Terrible Anthropologist

When westerners encounter cultural differences, the tendency is to view the other relative to the western norm and to apply a linear/ Darwinian logic. People think of development as linear and always progressing. The western/ developed world is at one end, and everybody else is lagging someplace behind. As a part of this, we often assume that the problems in our culture or society are not only present in other… Read Article →

Reflections on 10 Months as a School Counselor in Bhutan

Guest post by Moira Herbert, BSW University of Sydney I’m a social worker/ youth worker from a small town in Australia. Last year on a whim I applied for an ad I was sent over Facebook. At the time I truly believed I had nowhere near the level of experience that was required, but I thought it would be good to experience the interview process. Three months later I found… Read Article →

A sunset seen through storm clouds in the mountains.

A Little More about Suicide in Bhutan

As promised in my last post about Bhutan’s suicide problem, here’s a little info about religious beliefs, academic stress, and the government’s plan to address the problem. Religious Beliefs about Suicide Many of the articles I’ve read identify a need to promote spiritual identity as this is a protective factor against suicide. Bhutan is a Buddhist country where Tantric Buddhism is practiced. Beliefs around karma and reincarnation are central. Most… Read Article →

Grief and Mourning in Bhutan

Mourning is a deeply cultural process. Westerns are somewhat restricted in their grieving. It’s ok to show some emotion but not to go overboard. People understand that there’s a grief process, but they also think it shouldn’t last too long. Even the somewhat-new “Celebration of Life” practices have a feeling of trying to put a positive spin on death, making it less sad. As a therapist, I would often try to… Read Article →

A mountain stream flows through the jungle in Bhutan.

Culture & Talking to Patients & Families about Cancer

“He was yelling at me! He said I could not tell her she had cancer! No one here ever tells them!” We were standing just outside the gate of the National Referral Hospital in Thimphu, Bhutan. I looked up at the oncologist, squinting into the afternoon sun. That afternoon he had been working with patients, as usual. He was just about to tell his patient that she had cancer and that it was a terminal… Read Article →

Making Sense of Bhutan’s 2015 GNH Survey Results

92.1% are reportedly happy in Bhutan, per the provisional findings of the 2015 Gross National Happiness Survey. That’s a very specific number, and it’s worth looking at how it was determined. Luckily, I was just at the International Conference on Gross National Happiness where they explained it all. How does the GNH survey happiness? Actually, it doesn’t directly measure happiness. It measures the GNH “domains,” and that data is used… Read Article →

Where Happiness is a Place: Defining Happiness in Bhutan

Last week I went to the International Conference on Gross National Happiness. Along with over 500 participants representing 48 countries, we analyzed, surveyed, charted, and debated happiness for three days. Gross National Happiness was first mentioned by Bhutan’s 4th King in the 1970’s. He said that the country would measure GNH and prioritize that over GDP. What use is it, he said, if you are economically successful but unhappy? Since… Read Article →

Where We Educate Our Hearts: Bringing Kids Together at Camp RUF in Bhutan

Guest Contributor: Tim Huang At the end of last year, I was invited to volunteer as a founding facilitator for Camp Rural-Urban Friendship (RUF). This annual 10-day civic education youth camp brings together over 100 underserved youth from rural and urban Bhutan in bonding, co-learning, and co-creation. Bhutan has a growing rural-urban divide and a rapid rate of rural-urban migration. The camp addresses an opportunity gap by holding educational experiences… Read Article →

Bhutanese students in school uniform are smiling as they look at an electronic device.

Social Media in Bhutan

A couple of weeks ago I went to the Second Bhutanese Bloggers Conference. The first conference was in August 2015. Everybody had such as good time they decided to have another. For me, the conference was a chance to widen my exposure to Bhutanese culture (and to get excited about my new blog). I also learned about how Bhutanese young people are wielding the powerful tool of social media as… Read Article →

A sunset seen through storm clouds in the mountains.

Suicide in Bhutan

In a country known for its policy of Gross National Happiness, the high rate of suicide in Bhutan often surprises people. The country is in the beginning stages of collecting meaningful data regarding this trend. In this post, I’ve written about the information I was able to find online and some anecdotal data, too. Talking about suicide is new for the Bhutanese, medical providers included. This is a culture where… Read Article →