Letter from a grateful international intern

Network News Winter 2014, Vol. 27 No. 4
Site News
In June, the Niwot Ridge (NWT) Long Term Ecological Research (LTER) site hosted Sonam Choden, an intern from Bhutan who wanted to learn about snow hydrology before returning to her country. Sonam had just earned a Master’s degree at the Yale School of Forestry. She's interested in starting a snow hydrology program in Bhutan and NWT hosted her for four weeks at its Mountain Research Station (MRS) during snowmelt runoff in 2014. The following is her exit letter to Mark Williams, Principal Investigator of NWT LTER.

Happy Independence Day! 

I am heading to the Shambala Mountain Center to pay homage to an old friend of my mother’s, Chogyam Trungpa Rinpoche. 

I will be leaving tomorrow and felt sorry that I haven't been able to see you, being nestled so comfortably at Nederland, Colorado. I thought I should at least write to say thanks before I leave. 

My stay at the Mountain Research Station (MRS) was wonderful. Everybody was very friendly and eager to answer my numerous questions. I felt at home away from home. I made lots of friends, too, from among the cooks, students, researchers, the maintenance guy, and obviously the field techs. 

I learned a lot from Mark's team, and of course from Mr. Nells (Nel Caine) . His hard work and dedication, even at his advanced age, was inspirational to me.

My understanding of watershed management and overall snow and ice data improved greatly during my time at MRS. I got to dig a snow pit at the saddle, and to hike up the mountain each day, diligently collecting water samples through pumps and ice cold streams. Every single moment that I got to spend with the field techs was informative and a learning opportunity for me. I couldn't help but think of ways to replicate what I was doing or something similar back home. I am already working on a proposal to make it possible. Obviously, it will have to pass through numerous channels before I can actually make it happen, but I very much hope we’ll have something like this in Bhutan very soon. 

It was also very refreshing to see Rory (who I call a fixer) come in and fix things. He reminded me of diligence and the importance of carrying out even the smallest task with passion and dedication. 

I leave Boulder with a greater appreciation for the people who work hard—day in day out—to keep long term research going. Without them, I cannot imagine what would happen to the research. 

I will always remember my stay at the MRS and leave with a better understanding of long term research and management. 

Thank you very much for the opportunity and I hope I shall see you all in Bhutan very soon. Please let me know whenever you are in our country. 

Until we meet again,