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Annual Report 2017

From Fredericton to Bhutan

Left photo: Sam Crete, Alison Balcom, Travis Daley and Chloe Bieber. Right photo: Alison Balcom.

For 10 weeks last summer, four UNB Renaissance College students travelled to the small Himalayan nation of Bhutan.

Thanks to a long-standing partnership between UNB and Bhutan, Alison Balcom, Chloe Bieber, Sam Crete and Travis Daley were on a journey of learning – an internship focused on exchanging leadership styles through cultural immersion during their stay at Sherubtse College, located in eastern Bhutan.

It was a surprising first encounter for the students when they introduced themselves as Canadian and a Bhutanese gentleman responded with: “The only place in I know in Canada is New Brunswick, I’m sorry.” Mr. Daley attributes the response to the connection UNB has with the nation, and the role the university has played in modernizing their education system.

As the four students journeyed through Bhutan, the more they noticed the similarities between their new mountain home and New Brunswick. They all agreed that while there are differences between the two cultures, the pace of life and neighbourly sentiment reminded them of home.

By the end of the internship, all the students felt it had a profound impact on their view of leadership, and global citizenship.

“When we were getting ready to leave, I told the others that I had fell in love. I hadn’t fallen in love with one single person, but rather with an entire experience,” says Ms. Balcom.

A unique friendship

UNB’s partnership with Bhutan dates back to the 1980s when the university was approached by the nation’s government to partner in developing a modern education system for the country. It marked the beginning of a rare relationship as Bhutan limits the number of countries it liaises with.

The friendship continued to grow as the Canadian International Development Agency (CIDA) provided for Bhutanese students to attend UNB.

Thanks to the strong linkages that have endured for more than 25 years, UNB students travel to Bhutan for a leadership exchange and Bhutanese students come here to study education.

Says Mr. Daley: “The relationship between my school and Bhutan only made the experience more special.”