Education About Asia: Online Archives

Buttertea at Sunrise: A Year in the Bhutan Himalaya

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In 1997, at age 26, a Canadian physiotherapist (physical therapist), volunteered through Voluntary Services Overseas for a year’s stint in a small hospital in the town of Mongar in eastern Bhutan. She compassionately, but certainly not uncritically, absorbed the culture and rapidly made friends with patients, doctors, and villagers. She showed inordinate patience with the sparse medical resources and often unsavory and unsanitary conditions, as well with the difficult living situation. Nevertheless, she had an appreciation for the culture which few—probably very few—Westerners would have. It is her perception and the non-exotic outlook which makes this memoir fascinating and so very readable. An American or Canadian high school or college student would likely find the work interesting and valuable for its adventuresome account of one of the last truly little-known lands, which nonetheless is changing significantly and rapidly (as a return visit, recounted in the book, alarmingly notes).