CMC joins International Mountain Partnership, invited to Gross National Happiness conference | PostIndependent.com

CMC joins International Mountain Partnership, invited to Gross National Happiness conference

Donna Gray
Special to the Vail Daily

EDWARDS — A Colorado Mountain College faculty member's trip to Bhutan two years ago morphed into a global opportunity.

CMC joined the international Mountain Partnership, part of the United Nation's Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations, dedicated to preserving mountain communities through sustainable practices.

Back from Bhutan

It started two years ago when Lorraine Miller, an English as a Second Language instructor and developmental education faculty at Colorado Mountain College Aspen, took her sabbatical in Bhutan, the mountainous Asian kingdom east of Nepal surrounded by India.

Miller was immersed in an unusual language learning program, giving her a taste of what it was like for her own students.

"I'm a language teacher. In Bhutan, I walked in the shoes of a language learner. I didn't know the language or the alphabet," Miller said.

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Two years later, CMC was among those invited to attend Bhutan's seventh international Gross National Happiness conference, "GNH of Business." CMC was represented by Miller and sustainability professor Dr. Mercedes Quesada-Embid.

Gross National Happiness

Rooted in Buddhist philosophy, the concept of Gross National Happiness holds that government should measure its success by the happiness of its people, not just through tangible economic advancement. Equally important is the spiritual and cultural growth of the population and environmental protection.

The focus of the Gross National Happiness of Business conference was to promote those values in business practices in which society's well being is valued alongside profit. Companies commit to responsible behavior.

"We use nearly identical words in terms of our commitment to our mountain communities," said Dr. Kathryn Regjo, vice president and campus dean of Colorado Mountain College Vail Valley in Edwards.

Through its connection with the Bhutan Trust for Environmental Conservation, its relationship with Aspen International Mountain Foundation and its membership in the Mountain Partnership, Colorado Mountain College is developing an exchange program with Bhutan to educate forest rangers in that country in mountain and wilderness medical response, high-altitude rescue and backcountry navigation.

Regjo said participants in these "train the trainer" courses would pass their knowledge to others in their countries.

The Mountain Partnership is composed of 59 governments, seven subnational authorities, 16 intergovernmental organizations, and 247 major groups, NGOs and the private sector.

For information

For more information about the Mountain Partnership, go to http://www.mountainpartnership.org.