On November 17th, the Bhutan Foundation assisted the National Geographic Society in hosting a reception commemorating 100 years since the first coverage of Bhutan by National Geographic magazine in 1914. As the honored guest at the function, Her Majesty the Queen of Bhutan, Gyaltsuen Jetsun Pema Wangchuck, gave the following address:
Good Evening Ladies and Gentlemen,
It is a pleasure to be a part of the 100-year celebration on the coverage of the Kingdom of Bhutan by National Geographic.
In 1914, John Claude White’s fluent observations of our country, detailed in the April Issue of the National Geographic Magazine, unveiled the intricacies of our unfamiliar and mysterious land and people, to the rest of the world.
Bhutan has, across the century, made unique progress as a nation. We have continually fortified the values of our traditions and cultural heritage, and the essence of what was observed of our country, a hundred years ago, still remains.
Today, we move forward on the philosophy of Gross National Happiness and strive for sustainable development. We are bound by duty to ensure the resilience of our cultural values and our pristine natural environment, which remains indispensible in our pursuit of collective happiness. In Bhutan, we are always guided by our past; our rich traditions and culture, so fundamentally important for our future, binds us across time and generations.
In much the same manner, I believe that the National Geographic Society is driven towards bold expeditions and discovery, revealing ancient pasts to inspire mankind to value our own histories, to protect our timeless heritage, our unique archeological treasures and to illuminate our breathtaking, fragile planet and the ever growing need of environmental and wildlife conservation.
In celebration of a hundred years since the first coverage of Bhutan, I take this opportunity to commend National Geographic for the noble efforts, since its inception in 1888, to explore and bring to light the human and physical geography of our world. It has offered glimpses into world cultures, histories and natural sciences; and continues to encourage the crucial need for historical and environmental preservation.
Your explorers have reached the perimeters of our vast planet, to put forward unknown and fading traditions and highlight the last of the magnificent creatures of the animal kingdom that are fast approaching the fringes of extinction. You have successfully brought these issues to the global consciousness, reflecting the growing urgency and need to pool our efforts in a common purpose, that is, to discover a harmonious balance between the protection of our flora and fauna with sociocultural progress.
This is essentially the philosophy that guides our country’s development, and I believe, in Bhutan and beyond, we are all united in this shared purpose to protect the legacy of our history and of nature. We are grateful that the National Geographic continues to uphold this aspiration in the realities of changing times.
We wish the National Geographic Society and your Committee for Research and Exploration a pleasant stay in our Kingdom. We look forward to your continued and excellent work, enriching lives in a brilliant way, with insight and inspiration for all life on our fragile planet, and the great adventure that it represents.
Thank you and Tashi Delek.
“I am a firm believer that if there is one word that will stand out above all other words when we describe our country’s amazing journey of modernization over the last few decades – it is education. Our institutions, our leaders of today – all of us today, including me – are the proud products of the Bhutanese education system.”
His Majesty the Fifth King of Bhutan Jigme Khesar Namgyel Wangchuck
Education for all has been and continues to be a priority in Bhutan. Responding to a need for education for students with special needs, the Bhutan Foundation in close collaboration with the Royal Government of Bhutan’s Ministry of Education started a Special Education Program. The program focuses on inclusion of students with disabilities in the local public schools. It’s starting to make a tremendous difference in the lives of students with disabilities and their families, but there is much more work to do.
On #GivingTuesday, December 2, a generous donor has agreed to match donations of up to $10,000 to support children with disabilities in Bhutan. This will double the impact that you are making for children in Bhutan! And 100% of your donations will go directly into our Special Education Program.
We invite you to join the Bhutan Foundation in making a difference in a student’s life by donating to the Special Education Program on #GivingTuesday. With your support, we can make the following happen:
- Train local teachers in special education.
- Provide teaching resources for the Special Education Needs Resource Room.
- Provide leveled reading books for children with disabilities.
- Provide technology to help students with disabilities learn.
Your support is needed—become a part of the National Day of Giving!