In addition to building houses made of bamboo and earth, the students also worked with Bhutan's Gross National Happiness Center, visited organic gardens, took part in discussions with educators and politicians, and took hikes in the mountains.
by Maharishi University of Management, Fairfield, Iowa, USA, The Review
In June, Maharishi University of Management study abroad students helped build nine houses made of bamboo and earth in the Himalayan Kingdom of Bhutan.
Taught by Professor Lonnie Gamble, the course took place in Bumthang valley, which is covered in fields of buckwheat, rice, and potatoes and also features apple orchards and dairy farms. This serene region has some of Bhutan's oldest and most venerated temples, including an ancient temple built by the Tibetan king Songtsen Gampo in 659 A.D. as part of a chain of 108 simultaneously constructed temples.
MUM students and others who joined the course team withed students from Bhutan to build nine off-the-grid houses using a traditional style of construction that's common in Bhutan and widespread in Asia. The frame of the home is made of bamboo, and the structure of the house is made of rammed earth from local soil.
Students also worked with Bhutan's Gross National Happiness Center, visited organic gardens, took part in discussions with educators and politicians, and participated in adventure-based tourism such as hiking in the mountains.
"Instead of Gross National Product, Bhutan uses a measure called Gross National Happiness that takes into account the health and happiness of the people," said Steve Langerud, one of the organizers of the course. "The values in Bhutan are very much like the ones we foster here at MUM."
Bhutan is located at the eastern end of the Himalayas and is bordered to the north by China and to the south, east, and west by India. It is a constitutional monarchy that uses the parliamentary system.
Bhutan is also being held up as an example of a developing country that has put environmental conservation and sustainability at the heart of its political agenda.
Thakur Singh Powdyel, Bhutan's minister of education who recently visited MUM, was quoted in The Guardian as saying, "[W]e believe you cannot have a prosperous nation in the long run that does not conserve its natural environment or take care of the well being of its people, which is being borne out by what is happening to the outside world."
Both to students and to members of the community were in attendance at the course.
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