Below are remarks by His Royal Highness Prince Jigyel Ugyen Wangchuck of Bhutan presented during UTEP's Bhutan Festival 2008 at the Don Haskins Center July 8.
Madame President Dr. Diana Natalicio, Honorable Guests, Ladies and Gentlemen:
What a great pleasure it is to be here in the Lone Star State at The University of Texas in El Paso. I feel very much "at home" here!
Your connections with Bhutan are not just the oldest in the United States, they are among the oldest in the world.
When your first Bhutanese building, I believe it was Old Main, was being created in 1917 here on this wonderful campus, few -- very few -- people had ever heard of, let alone knew anything about, our tiny Himalayan Kingdom.
My late great-great-grandfather, the first King of Bhutan Ugyen Wangchuck, had been King for just 10 years. And not a single American citizen had ever visited Bhutan.
Yet, here at El Paso almost a century ago, your inspired late Dean Steven Worrell had that precious ability to see beyond the mundane and initiate on your campus a unique environment of Bhutanese architectural style -- unique, but of a style so harmonious with the Franklin Mountains which surrounds El Paso.
As far as I know, it was a world first: The first piece of Bhutanese architecture ever constructed outside Bhutan.
Your buildings have shown how the Bhutanese architectural idiom can be incorporated so successfully into modern construction.
And now you are about to see here a Bhutanese Buddhist temple, the first building on your campus made by Bhutanese craftsmen in Bhutan.
This temple is offered as a gift of friendship to the people of the United States by His Majesty the King and the people of Bhutan. We are very happy it will have a home here at UTEP. President Diana Natalicio and UTEP have given a new dimension to this wonderful campus first planned almost a century ago.
UTEP has succeeded in making the Bhutan link much more than a collection of buildings. As a first-time visitor to El Paso, I appreciate that the school has been very conscious of the need to make the buildings live -- to develop a soul -- through incorporating examples of Bhutanese culture and art, and now with the arrival of the Buddhist temple, elements of our spiritual culture, too.
In the words of the late President John F Kennedy: “It is not sufficient for this country to be materially rich – it must be spiritually rich, too.”
These are words which we in Bhutan would echo strongly through our development philosophy of Gross National Happiness.
Some of that spiritual richness now forms part of your campus too, and may it touch the lives of all the thousands of young people who will receive their education here in future years.
May it serve as an auspicious mark of a solid relationship of friendship and goodwill between the USA and Bhutan.
It will most certainly be a special mark of the enduring relationship that you here in El Paso have created with a remote Himalayan Kingdom.
Our warm and fruitful relationship, symbolized through this temple, goes well beyond wood and stones.
It has been expressed over many years through people and personal contacts: The very first Bhutanese undergraduate in the USA studied at UTEP, and he was the precursor of many other young Bhutanese men and women who have had the privilege of studying here in El Paso.
It is our hope in Bhutan, that the wonderful relationship we have built over the years with the people of this great country, will continue to grow and contribute to better appreciation, understanding and goodwill for each other.
A nation’s youth is its most valuable asset, especially when it constitutes half of a country’s population, as in our case. Therefore, the opportunity for Bhutanese youth to receive quality education in El Paso and elsewhere in your country, is deeply appreciated, because it is a wise investment for our common future.
To the students here with us this evening, I wish you a purposeful, productive and happy life in all that you endeavor and in the never-ending process of learning and excellence. I hope the timeless values and ideals that you have imbibed at UTEP will inspire and sustain you to become a better individual, a better citizen and a better human being -- to be able to rise in the face of the challenges of life.
And now, I would like to thank the President and her colleagues at UTEP for the extremely warm and generous hospitality extended to our group from Bhutan. We are fortunate to have this rare opportunity to share our way of life with you, in this special year for us all.
My friends, it is wonderful to be in Texas.
Thank you very much. Tashi Delek! God bless you all.