- New Colombo Plan
2019 New Colombo Plan scholar Lacey Cornall was planning to travel to Bhutan on a short-term mobility program. Then she was nominated by Charles Sturt University to apply for an NCP Scholarship – and she knew straight away where she wanted to go.
Growing up in rural NSW, Lacey had always loved the great outdoors. She had planned to study physiotherapy before learning about careers that would allow her to pursue her interest in natural environments. That led her to study a Bachelor of Applied Science, majoring in Outdoor Recreation and Ecotourism, at Charles Sturt University.
Lacey is currently completing a semester at the Royal Thimphu College in Bhutan as a 2019 New Colombo Plan scholar. She’s studying water resource management, environmental ethics and Bhutan’s national language, Dzonghka. Lacey’s study program includes an internship at Bhutan’s National Biodiversity Centre, where she will work in the National Herbarium.
“NCP was definitely something I was interested in and when this opportunity presented itself, I knew exactly where I wanted to study. NCP has given me the opportunity to experience Bhutan in a way that very few people get to. I am very grateful to be here.”
This is Lacey’s first experience living on campus and she has found the transition to studying and living at Royal Thimphu College an easy one with the friendly and welcoming staff, fellow students and the help of her campus ‘buddy’. Highlights so far include visiting many of Thimphu’s monasteries and learning about the Bhutanese national faith of Buddhism.
“When I visited Taksang (Tiger’s Nest) in Paro I had the opportunity to sit and meditate in the monastery for some time. It was a very special experience.”
Lacey is relishing the opportunity to learn Dzonghka and she’s practising her new language skills on her roommate, classmates and locals alike.
“I go running most mornings and this is a great way to explore the local area and witness the day-to-day activities of the locals. I often run past school students waiting at their bus stops on the way to school and I say hello in Dzonghka, ‘Kuzuzangpo’, and receive big smiles and a ‘Kuzuzangpo’ back.”
Bhutan is renowned for its traditional dress, which has been another striking feature of Lacey’s time in the country.
“A memorable moment from the beginning of my time here was on the first day of classes when my roommate dressed me in my kira, toedgo and wonju for the first time. It felt like being dressed by my mum on the first day of preschool, but I enjoy wearing the traditional dress and am now the proud owner of three kiras, toedgos and wonjus that I can mix and match for classes each day.”
After just one month in Bhutan on her NCP program, Lacey is re-evaluating what field she might pursue after she graduates.
“I have found working in the National Herbarium very interesting and it is different to anything I have ever done. I could see myself being involved with something similar in the future.”