Here I am again, at the end of the 4th week of the program, with less than two weeks left to go here in Bhutan. I have to say, this past week has been a little tough. This place is so great, and every day here, I meet someone new, learn something new, get challenged, have fun, and just continuously grow.
Over the course of the past week, we’ve taken our final exams (went well), played volleyball and basketball with some of the locals in Paro Town near the center (Basketball was rough–I blame my two left feet, Volleyball–thank goodness for my long arms), worked on our Directed Research Projects beginning this week (my portion focuses on local reliance on natural sources of water), and for some reason, I found myself incredibly stressed over the course of this entire week.
However, there remained one positive that kept me inspired and ready to go to work every day–gratefulness. If the people of Bhutan have taught me anything, it’s that life is too short to not appreciate all you have. I wholeheartedly believe in this, and as such, have made it my goal to make as much of an impact on the people here in the time I have left, and to make the most out of every day, in a constant effort to realize and take advantage of the once in a lifetime lessons this experience will continue to provide.
I couldn’t be more excited to begin our research project tomorrow. Our overall project title is “How has Development in Paro Valley Affected Health Practices Related to Forest Products?” and as I mentioned before, my portion of the project is focusing specifically on water. My work will focus on trying to understand the relationship that communities have with local sources of water, and how these reserves of water currently exist throughout the Paro Valley in terms of both water quality and quantity, and how the status of these water resources may currently, previously, and in the future may affect the health of people throughout Paro Valley.
I felt like this project was the best opportunity I’d have to truly make a long-term impact on the lives of the people here. I’m trying to focus my civil engineering degree on the management of water resources, specifically as it relates to management of stormwater. As such, to be able to apply what I’ve learned through my studies so far in a country like Bhutan, who manages it’s resources so well, but still has so much work to be done, is a dream come true in itself, but to be able to complete a research project and actually have it mean something to the communities who’ve welcomed you with open arms for the past 4 weeks? It’s an indescribable feeling, and it’s the reason I want to work as hard as humanly possible, regardless of the small amount of time I may have left here.
Tomorrow we’re heading back to the largest city in the Country-Thimphu, to begin our data collection. While there, I’ll have the opportunity to meet with the Planner of the entire nation of Bhutan, representatives of NGO’s devoted to protecting water throughout the country, and representatives from the Ministry of Public Health. Who would’ve thought, a kid from El Paso, TX who never thought he’d go anywhere with his life is getting the chance to meet people like this, in a place like this, in the once in a lifetime opportunity this truly is.
More to come later in the week!