SU professor reminisces about Bhutan


SU history professor Jonathan Staff introduces Kurt Kraus, a counseling professor and Fulbright scholar who shared his experience teaching in Bhutan.

“Pick a destination and go there. The world looks different once you have,” said Shippensburg University counseling professor Kurt Kraus during his presentation, “Scaling the Heights of Happiness in the Kingdom of Bhutan.”

The lecture, which was held Wednesday in Grove Forum, was sponsored by SU’s Counseling Department, Campus Fulbright Committee and the International Studies Program. Kraus was able to visit the South Asian country of Bhutan three times since 2008, including his experience in 2015 teaching at a university in Bhutan as a Fulbright scholar. 

The lecture was mainly focused around Kraus’ personal experiences in Bhutan while also answering common questions about the country. 

The Bhutanese people pride themselves on their devotion to Buddhism above everything else. Since Buddhist culture is so intertwined with Bhutan’s culture, it is nearly impossible to mention Bhutan without discussing the country’s faith. 

“We’ve been learning a lot about Buddhist culture in my history class, “Historical Foundations of Global Cultures,” so I’m interested in learning more about it tonight,” SU student Shannon Peterson said. 

Kraus stressed how important Bhutan’s neutrality is when it comes to keeping the peace between India and China. The country’s ability to remain neutral during conflicts is a crucial part in keeping the peace among Bhutan’s neighboring countries, according to Kraus. 

Thinking back to his time in Bhutan over the last several years, Kraus shared some of his favorite memories and experiences with the audience. A smile crept onto his face the moment he began talking about the college students he taught in Bhutan. 

Kraus said it took a while to earn his co-workers and students’ trust, but after a few weeks of getting to know everyone he felt quite welcomed. One of the biggest differences between Shippensburg and Bhutan is the drastic change in altitude, with Bhutan around 8,000 feet above sea level, according to Kraus. 

At the end of his lecture Kraus left the audience with a final question — “Can faith sustain this little nation?”

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