Department Chair, Counseling, Dr. Allison Buller has won a coveted Fulbright U.S. Scholar Award to teach in Bhutan.
Dr. Buller’s proposal brings innovative methods of reducing mental health concerns among college students in Bhutan. With that goal in mind, she will teach two classes on wellness education: “The Art and Science of Mindfulness and Meditation” and “Happiness Across Cultures.” Her proposal was accepted by the Fulbright Committee and the embassy of Bhutan, and she will be teaching at the Royal University of Bhutan in 2022. “I want to explore the campus culture in Bhutan,” says Buller. “Colleges around the world have a need for better wellbeing and healthcare for their students.”
Since 1946, the Fulbright Program has been the United States’ leading international educational exchange program, providing participants opportunities to teach, study, and conduct research. Fulbright fosters connections among communities throughout the world, and often lays the groundwork for future partnerships between institutions and countries. Fulbright alumni include 60 Nobel Prize laureates, 88 Pulitzer Prize recipients, and 39 who have served as a head of state or government.
Dr. Buller chose Bhutan because this small country in southern Asia organizes its education system around the principle of GNH, or “Gross National Happiness,” rather than Gross Domestic Product, to drive public policy. This idea of wellbeing as a vital part of the economy includes physical health, work-life balance, social connection and community vitality, education, access to arts, culture, and recreation, environmental quality and access to nature, good governance and material wellbeing. The aim is to promote happiness as an economic force.
Part of the proposal is to improve the health of college students by adding classes like these to their curriculum. The Royal University of Bhutan likes in particular the idea of promoting well-being through classes rather than an on-campus counseling center. “This is about understanding the problems facing college students in Bhutan,” says Buller. “They are competing for careers and success and are facing multiple stressors. It will be a privilege to bring them new ideas and strategies.”
Along with being a Connecticut licensed professional counselor, Buller has recently been certified as a Mindfulness-Based Cognitive Therapy (MBCT) Teacher by the UCSD Center for Mindfulness. Over the past eight years, she has created opportunities for students to participate in regularly scheduled wellbeing courses, time-limited mindfulness groups, elective meditation circles, and individual mental health therapy. She has also taught abroad before in China and Korea.
“I have a curiosity that drives me in all my work. In this case I am eager to see whether the methods we use here will work in Bhutan with students who are facing similar challenges to ours.” – Dr. Allison Buller