SIGMT Spring 2023

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SIGNATURE MONTANA | 73 Cynthia says that when she walked into class, students stood and greeted her and, when class was done, said, "ank you, madam." Dzongkha is the national language, but English is used for instruction in all the schools. When she met some of the children in the village, they were eager to talk to her and practice speaking English. "ey were so sweet," says Cynthia. ey walked everywhere in the village, including a mile to the village market and around the small campus surrounded by jungle. ey turned heads when they arrived, standing out with their fair skin and hair in a people of brown skin, brown eyes, and dark hair. But it wasn't long before they made friends and felt blended into the community. For touring, they had an appointed driver, Choki Wangchuk, a local who became their dear friend. "He's our Bhutanese son now. We told our son that he now has a brother," Cynthia says with a laugh. Road travel was truly an adventure on ruy roads filled with potholes and shared with animals and humans. Winding through hills and along mountainsides, Cynthia says it took 12 hours to go just 137 miles on one trip. e first highway was constructed in the 1960s, and the capital city, imphu, is the only city in the world without a traffic light. Road signs reflect the polite and kind spirit of people here, "Be patient," "No overspending," "Do not overtake," and "Inconvenience regreed." David said he was struck by the civility of the people. "ey don't harm each other emotionally. ey are in it together." He said that they had never heard of an aack in the area; in fact, the only threat he felt was from an aggressive monkey who frequented the town. Part of David's purpose in serving as a Fulbright Scholar is to share his experiences when he gets home. He says our society has lost a measure of civility and could benefit from the Bhutanese approach of "kindness with firmness" and how they treat each other with patience and respect, not anger. He says, "I will tell anyone who will listen." David has found his Fulbright Scholar experiences to be very rewarding and a time of not only discovering new places and people but a time of self- discovery. Cynthia adds, "It gives you a whole new perspective." David says he highly recommends it but notes that it isn't for the faint of heart. "It helps to have travel legs." He says those experiences have been the best years of his life. "A part of you wakes up, and aer you get home, you wake up again." And then – you tell people about it. e Fulbright Scholar Program awards more than 1,700 fellowships each year to academics and professionals, with 800 U.S. scholars participating abroad and 900 visiting scholars coming to the U.S. in a program of international educational and cultural exchange to contribute to mutual understanding. For more information about the Fulbright Scholar program: hps:// Kay Bjork is headquartered on Swan Lake where she and her husband have launched on a multitude of Montana adventures. S MT A Bhutanese girl is all dressed up in her native dress. The High Lama's seat is surrounded in color a the Festival in Samste.

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