“It’s a great experience to be at SMC, because there just isn’t the opportunity for so many of us back home to go to college.”
There is a mysterious and mist-enshrouded kingdom high in the Himalayas named Bhutan. It is isolated and fiercely mountainous, but of such staggering beauty that it inspired the legendary myth of Shangri-La. This is the country that Pema Yangchen calls home. “Firstly, we are a monarchy. But in 2008, we also became a democracy, and the king handed over his powers,” explains Pema. “We have a religion and culture that’s different from any other Asian country.” It was a long trek that Pema made to SMC from ‘home,’ and one that was inspired by her hunger to learn.
“In my country we just have a single college, and only between two and four thousand students get to go there. The rest of us have to find our own colleges, usually in India. But my mom knew someone from here, who sponsored me. But now I’m going to handle the financial stuff myself.” Pema pays her way by working at SMC’s Welcome Center. But beyond the paycheck she earns there, she reports even more valuable contributions to her future. “Working at the Welcome Center has totally changed the way I look at other people. Before working there, I was completely shy and self-centered. But now I meet all kinds of people, and I can talk with them and help them out. Plus,” she says with a laugh, “I could barely speak English when I started at the Center. But now it’s okay, no?”
It was her mom who inspired Pema to think that helping others through Nursing might be a good pathway for her to take. “But then, I’ve always wanted to dance and sing, too. When I hear the music, I just have to get up!” However, Pema remains—culturally—a daughter of Bhutan. “I still don’t talk with guys much,” she admits with a giggle. There are still some ‘mountains’ to overcome. Even when you’re from the Himalayas.
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