Tuesday, October 11, 2011

Universal Truths About Students and Other Things

RTC has RAs and professional Resident Mentors who say that students don't always listen to them when they try and enforce quiet hours. Actually, here they call them "silent hours," which bespeaks a slightly higher level of expectation than we may have for our rowdy Wheaton folks.

Betsy, Hyun and I enjoyed two great conversations, first with members of the Student Government, and then the res life staff. SGA members feel they work hard, but students don't appreciate them, and don't want to do the work themselves. Sound familiar? And RAs like their work but struggle with managing their time and being good role models.

It's strangely comforting to know that students are students. Here's a picture of me with the Res Life staff. I had to ask the women to sit in front--they tend to be deferential, moreso than the men (though the men, by western standards, are also quite polite), because I want you to see their kira. The kira (for women) and the gho (for men), are the official national dress, and all students at RTC must wear them to all classes and events. There is a certain uniformity to Bhutan that is part of their effort since the 1980s to solidify their national identity. And yes, I felt underdressed.

Another way they enforce uniformity is through architecture. All new construction must follow the basic design elements of traditional Bhutanese housing. For example, windows must be a very specific style. This is a picture from the inside of a cafe where Betsy and I had lunch today (on the 7th floor of a small shopping center). Note the trefoil design.

Here's an exterior shot of a window in the same shopping center:

Almost all Bhutanese windows look like this--the painted wooden frames and the curved tops.

I took some other shots in downtown Thimphu today that I thought you'd enjoy. Monks in Bhutan (and there are a lot of them; in fact, it's a bicameral-like government with a secular head [the King] and a spiritual head who presides over the "monk body") wear red:

Twice, Betsy and I went into shops to find the shopkeepers nursing their children. They may be very modest people in some ways, but not when it comes to bearing their breasts at lunch time. And they are happy to show off their children, another universal truth:

They carry those children on their backs in slings:

One last shot from town: one of the many groceries. Buy local! (Because anything else requires a mountain traverse).


No comments:

Post a Comment