His Majesty the King’s Speech at the Graduates’ Orientation Program

His Majesty the King graced the closing session of the National Graduates’ Orientation Program. His Majesty started by introducing Queen-to-be Jetsun Pema to the 1698 students.

His Majesty the King’s Address to the Graduate Students:

This is Jetsun Pema. We will be married soon. When the third King was Paro Penlop, he married in Ugyen Pelri and Paro dzong on the 1st of October. My father married on the 31st of October 1988 in Punakha. So I decided to set my date on the 13th of October. I have known Jetsun for many years. We will, as you all know, serve you and the country throughout our lives. I am happy to introduce you to her today.

Now, as we gather together today, I want to use this opportunity most effectively. I know you are all aware of most of the things I am going to say. Nonetheless, it is with the hope that it might be of benefit to you that I will state these things again. If you have questions, feel free to ask.

At this profound moment in your lives, standing poised to begin your careers, you carry the weight of your parents and your families’ pride and hopes in you. From me, you have my good wishes, my faith and trust and above all, my happiness in your success until today.

Today, I want you to reflect on the blessing of being born in Bhutan. I have travelled across the country and am truly amazed at the beauty and spirituality of our nation. It is a jewel born from Guru Rimpoche’s blessings.

Fundamental to the strength and beauty of our nation is our cultural heritage – our traditions and customs – the bond between children and their parents, teachers and elders. The trust and faith among friends, neighbours and the community. These are unwritten and unspoken values passed from generation to generation for centuries. These values are inherent in all of us. Yet, it takes proper reflection to truly understand and nurture them in this modern world.

With the coming of Zhabdrung Ngawang Namgyal, each era has brought a leader of destiny to safeguard our nation and our heritage. Some nations around the world have lost not only their independence but their cultures and traditions and way of life. In our hour of great uncertainties and challenges, came our third and fourth Druk Gyalpos. With their far-sighted leadership, the steadfast friendship of India and the hard work and dedication of our people, this modern nation has been born. And the greatest fruit of all these labours has been the birth of democracy. Now, the duty of carrying this special nation to a brighter future falls on us.

Do not be complacent. In this day there are so many graduates. I know that most of you will know the importance of working hard. So to the few of you, who might feel that being graduates, everything will happen for you, I must warn you. You will be left behind. If you do not have the desire to learn, to work hard and to show determination, I am afraid you will be left behind or at best outdated. One day you will suffer for this complacency. If there is anything your heart desires, anything you want to achieve, the time to start is now. Don’t be afraid of challenges and obstacles. There is no merit, for an individual or a nation, to avoid or hide from challenges. As we move forward into uncharted waters, we must find solutions to challenges with foresight, wisdom and tact. Therefore, these age-old values that we inherit from one generation and pass on to the next will be fundamental to our success.

In talking of our age-old values let me say a few words on one aspect of it – our Driglam Chhoesum – our cultural traditions of etiquette. Many educated Bhutanese today might say that these are the little things we do such as lowering our heads, or our kabneys and standing in the presence of higher authorities. That is not true. It is neither subservience nor the currying of favour that some people have reduced it to be. As you go forward in life, you will, as individuals, need two things more than anything else – education and character. There is a Bhutanese saying that one can make a living from having good character. How do you speak to and treat others? Are you easy for your colleagues to work with? Do your supervisors find it convenient to place responsibilities on you? Do your friends and family place their faith and trust in you? These are very important things to consider. If you place all your hopes for your future in the education you have, it is not enough. You must also know the difference between good and evil, between right and wrong, between compassion and self-interest. You must know how to live a live of moderation and balance. No matter how well educated or capable you think you are, you must also make it easy for others to appreciate you, to offer you work, or to place important responsibilities on your shoulders. In the west, they sometimes refer to it as emotional intelligence. Our Criglam Chhoesum simply applies our age-old values to our daily lives and ensures that as we pursue individual goals and ambitions, we do so in harmony with others – that our individual successes will build a strong, united and harmonious nation.

Lastly, because I am King and I take my duty seriously, I have no aspirations or ambitions for myself. It is your aspirations and your hopes that I adopt as my own and I will spend my life trying to achieve them. So you must have great ambitions and hopes for yourself and for our country.

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