Finding What We All Share

I traveled half way around the world and I realize how similar all of us are.

Our hosts here at the ELC (Educating for Lifelong Citizenship) school are 13 Bhutanese students who live in or around the Thimphu area and some boarding while other day students (just like Andover). Going into this experience in Bhutan, in just our short meetings in the chapel basement at PA, we got the opportunity to speak with a Bhutanese scholar who was studying at Harvard. He advised us to be aware that Bhutanese children are very shy. While yes, this is true in certain instances such as small group discussions where I see their hesitation to project their voices or share personal information, I also see their humor, silliness, sarcasm, and friendship shine through.

I think the opportunity to board together (both PA and ELC girls) and be bunkmates has been extremely beneficial to the bonds we are creating. While some of these girls may be timid during an activity, their spirit and energy are present in our nightly dance parties and talks. We taught our Bhutanese hosts how to play the card game BS and they love it. We play at any free moment we have. My host Samara, beat everyone in the first round we played. We got to see Trisha’s awesome contemporary dancing to Cardi B and my sub par performance of Irish step. I chuckled to myself when one of our hosts requested that we play some Kendrick Lamar next. And of course, we spend plenty of time talking about our favorite things to watch, do, listen to, and eat. Samara and I both love chocolate so needless to say we get along really well.

The other day we were sitting at dinner and I asked the Bhutanese boy across from me, Karma, what his favorite TV show is. He said it was That 70s Show. Yesterday, one of the girls was telling me about some of the drama that has gone on in her middle school and how friends can fluctuate.

I am half way across the world, in an entirely different culture and learning community and yet I see that teenagers are the same around the world. We love to be silly, to laugh and dance and bond over our love for Frosted Flakes. We listen to the same music and watch the same shows. We are all experience the same gossip and drama of middle school. We love chocolate and singing along to Dancing in the Moonlight at the top of our lungs. And of course, we all have aspirations. Some to be a dancer, others a pilot, or maybe even to attend college in the U.S. A big lesson that this trip has taught me is to not look for what divides us from one another as human beings, but to look at the things we share - our similarities. The sooner everyone in the world realizes how alike we are, the sooner we can get along... and maybe all share a big card game together.