Written by Tanya S. DeGenova

Press Release for Immediate Release: Marblehead Rotarians get a Lesson on Bhutan, a Country with ties to Boston, where the Measure of Progress is its "Gross National Happiness"!

Last Thursday, the Marblehead Rotary Club was treated to a fascinating talk and photo show by two of their members, Corine Barone and Andy Stone, about their travel to Bhutan, a small country high in the Himalayas between Chinese Tibet and India.    Corine is a pediatric dentist in Marblehead, and Andy is a new Rotarian, recently retired as General Counsel of a medical device company.

Corine and Andy described the country’s beautiful monasteries, fortresses, and shrines set in a landscape of green rice fields, rivers in deep valleys, all with a backdrop of the snowcapped Himalayas.  They recounted their hikes the to the Tiger’s Nest, an historic and beautiful monastery commemorating the introduction of Buddhism to the country.   This iconic complex is set on a cliff 3000 feet above the valley floor.  They shared examples of the colorful fabrics, costumes, and masks used in daily life and the country’s festivals.  They described their adventurous flights, in the country’s specially altered airliners, to the its only commercial airport located deep in the Paro valley, and flanked by towering mountains.

Many may remember that in 2011, the new king of Bhutan, Jigme Wangchuck,was married in a spectacular Tibetan Buddhist wedding featured on American television, and worldwide.  The King is a Celtics fan due to his close ties to Boston, having attended Cushing Academy, Philips Andover, and Wheaton College before a master’s degree from Oxford.  He is the 5th of the Wangchuk dynasty, which has guided the country’s transition from a closed society in 1907 to an emerging democracy and successful economy, while developing the widely known concept of “Gross National Happiness” as its measure of progress.

Corine and Andy told of the warmth and generosity with which Bhutan hosts tourists, the free health care and education it provides for its citizens, and the care taken to preserve its breathtaking environment, while measuring its progress with the concert “Gross National Happiness”.  Both are looking forward to a return to this country known as the Last Shangri-La.