English | Dzongkha Saturday, January 16, 2021

American student researching on nomads’ lives vis-à-vis modernisation

Pema Namgay, Kanglung
May 26, 2014

LivingWithNomads-Brain YoungIn a quest to learn how development is affecting the lives of nomads, a research student has travelled all the way from the United States of America to Trashigang. He is currently living with a family of nomads from Merak near Kharungla in Trashigang.

Brain Young, 43, from California is studying anthropology and doing a research on the changing lives of the nomads as part of his Master’s Thesis. He is doing his research in collaboration with the Sherubtse College.

Brian has been living with the family for almost a month now. He plans to spend another one month with the family.

“I was interested in finding tradition and culture and how development was changing this everyday life. So I was looking for a place in rural area that still have some interesting culture,” said Brain.

Learning more about the culture, Brian participates in their day to day activities. Right from fetching water to doing the dishes, Brian helps the family in their everyday chores. He even goes out with them to collect cattle and feed fodder. For him everything is a new experience.

“I am trying to learn as much as I can to take part in their activity so that I can have better understanding of their experience and can see life through their eyes.”

It’s very hard, arduous and tiring but rewarding life, he says. “They are all working together in the family and experiencing life together, talking about their everyday experience and their problem. It’s much different that the urban setting where in the office an individual come to an office, do their work and then go home. They don’t see their family and friends much but this is more of a community collective life.”

Brian also shares the meal cooked by the family and claims that he has no problem with the food. And he even prefers fermented cheese to the fresh cheese. “It’s good,” he says. “Sometimes the food is little but spicy. I miss my food sometimes but I like vegetables. I am happy with the overall environment and the people and the overall experience and I don’t think much about the food,” he adds.

The family says they are comfortable with a foreigner living with them. But language barrier is, however, a challenge. Currently their daughter, a class XII graduate is the translator.

Through his experience with the nomads, Brian says the lifestyle of the nomads is under threat because of developments and modernisation.

“Development is slowly reaching them and the children are slowly going out to urban areas and schools finding a different life, and especially the cellphone and the Facebook constantly reaching out to see something different. I don’t know, hopefully they have a similar language and the culture left. They would not lose everything but at the same time it’s important to them to have a comfortable life that they desire,” he says.

During the day when they get time, Brian takes tree-climbing lessons from the nomads. Besides learning their culture, Brian hopes to overcome his fear of height and climb trees like the nomads, before he goes back.



1 Comment for “American student researching on nomads’ lives vis-à-vis modernisation”

  1. karma tenzin

    I think we should not entertain foreigners from conducting any research work on Bhutan. We have enough educated people today and these sources are ours and should be reserved for Bhutanese only. haven’t we learned enough lesson. Most of our history books have been written by foreigners….come on we must do something about it…they come to our country, write books on our concept and take the credit ultimately….what is wrong with us…the government should adress the issue…even if they do come to bhutan let then assist our educated lot on the way to conduct research and not do it themselves….its an earnest request to all my fellow citizens that we must take a stand here otherwise these foreigners will keep taking advvantage of us…karma Tenzin

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