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Bhutan's First and Only A+ Accredited Institution      Inspiring Education in Bhutan

RTC graduate receives Kings Scholarship to study at Cambridge University 20191002

Reality is sometimes hard to grasp, no matter how many times one tells their story. After graduation, everybody has to make decisions about what they will do next. At times, it is confusing to decide on what you really want to do or become. Some may have it all figured out while some may not have any clue at all. 


Well, my story is no less different. I have experienced countless uncertainties about the world beyond and occasionally have felt pressured during family gatherings on my next course of action. I was relieved when I got selected as a Research Associate for an ethnographic research project at Royal Thimphu College which was titled Upland Livelihood Strategies in Thimphu District, a project funded by The International Centre for Integrated Mountain Development (ICIMOD) and the Himalayan University Consortium (HUC). 

To collect data for this research, I had to travel and carry out ethnography in the highlands of Bhutan with four other colleagues. In early May, just before I went to conduct ethnography in Lingzhi for a month, I had applied for MPhil in Social Anthropology at Cambridge University in the United Kingdom. My fear of not getting accepted by Cambridge University was constant but the fieldwork in Lingzhi helped me to keep my mind off the relentless worry. Meeting new people in Lingshi, living their ways and becoming a part of their daily lives were valuable experiences, which is another story that I must tell elsewhere.

At one point, the thought of getting admission into such a prestigious university, let alone a scholarship, seemed tantalizingly out of reach. However, one of my lecturers, Dr. Jelle J.P Wouters (Programme Leader of BA Political Science and Sociology) advised me to never lose hope and to continue building upon my resume with further research work. I am thankful for his guidance and encouragement that enabled me to make it this far.

As said by Christine Caine, “Sometimes when you are in a dark place you think you have been buried, but actually you have been planted.”  After much anxiousness, fortunately on 18th July, I got a mail from the University of Cambridge offering me an admission; however, it came with conditions that needed to be fulfilled. Getting the scholarship was more difficult than getting the admission. I applied for Bhutan’s King’s Scholarship at the University of Cambridge and made several visits to the office of Gyalpoi Zimpon, Youth Welfare and Education office. The last thing that I had to do was write a formal application addressed to His Majesty, the King, and it was with immense honor and acquiescent humility that I was able to do so. 

Each passing day, I became more apprehensive. “I know you will get through” was a ubiquitous response in conversations I had with friends and colleagues. Although it sounded casual, the weights of the words were heavy and it made me feel more anxious. My mother fervently prayed for me and every morning I could hear her pray in the altar. I am grateful to my mother and Dr. Jelle for being there for me in this journey of my life. It helped me emotionally and mentally. To them, I express my utmost gratitude.

One evening, I received a call from the Honorable Zimpon, Dasho Yeshey Lhendup notifying me to meet him the following day. The next morning, Dasho Zimpon conveyed that I was awarded the King’s Scholarship by His Majesty. I was happy but at the same time I was anxious because I knew that I had a great responsibility to uphold. I felt the spacious wooden paneled office closing in on me, and I could not look at my mother who was sitting next to me for I knew she was getting emotional. In a blink of an eye, my whole life changed, and yet I still felt the same. A new journey lies ahead of me; it would not be an easy one but one has to give their best.

Before I conclude, I would like to lay down a few words. I, a humble servant of our Kingdom, would like to express my earnest gratitude to His Majesty for awarding me this prestigious scholarship. I am also thankful to the Royal Thimphu College and my tutors who groomed me to be the person I am today. There are so many of you who I want to thank personally. I know I was able to make it this far because of the people I met throughout my journey, no matter how big or small their contributions were. For this, I will always be thankful.

“Each encounter, either met with pain, happiness, anticipation, or reliance, is constantly shaping each of us— our journeys, orientations, and desires— as well as the world that is taking form around us. Every encounter is precious and I hope you realize it in your journey too.”


Tshering Pelzom
BA Political Science and Sociology
Class of 2018