“The Hoch Scholarship program is a small private scholarship program which provides funding for up to two Bhutanese grantees, currently in the field of electrical and hydroelectric engineering at the undergraduate level, for a maximum of four years. Grantees are selected by the Royal Civil Service Commission of Bhutan. Grants are full grants and cover tuition, room and board, insurance, airfare and grantax services. It is funded by an individual philanthropist and his family”, says the Information on Institute of International Education (IIE)’s website. That is the only information on this scholarship program which educated a handful of Bhutanese students in the United States in engineering fields. I am sure all those students are contributing towards the nation building process.
I have been lucky enough to receive this same scholarship and study here in the United States. I am sure that the extraordinary experiences (be it in academic or non-academic fields) I gain here will help me in contributing back to the nation which made me the person I am today. I am from a poor family and I neither have aunts or uncles who have the power and wealth to make a difference in me. If I am to thank anyone, I will have to thank my parents for bringing me up and enrolling me in school even when they lived hand to mouth, and the Royal government for the enlightened initiative of free education policy. Thank you.
I think I have the responsibility to know what Hoch Scholarship is. After all, it’s this scholarship which brought me to a land which I can only watch on Television; and attend a university which I can only dream of attending.
In order to understand Hoch Scholarship, we need to understand the Helvetas - Bhutan relationship. In 1948, Her Majesty the Queen Mother, Ashi Kesang Choden Wangchuk and Ms. Lisina Hoch attended the same school in London (House of Citizenship). Ms. Lisina was the daughter of a Swiss industrialist and trader, Mr. Fritz Von Schulthess. In 1949, Mr. Schulthess’ family visited the family of Ashi Kesang at Bhutan House in Kalimpong. After Ashi Kesang married His Late Majesty Jigme Dorji Wangchuk, the royal family of Bhutan and Mr. Schulthess’ family developed close ties. It is from this relationship that Helvetas had its existence in Bhutan.
[The photo to the left is Ms. Lisina Hoch. Photo Courtesy of Helvetas - Bhutan. ]
The Hoch Scholarship is a private scholarship funded by Mr. Late Frank Hoch and Ms. Lisina Hoch’s family. Ms. Lisina is also the Vice President of Bhutan Foundation with its headquarter in Washington, DC. Since the initial intent of the scholarship is to train Bhutanese engineers in electrical or hydro-electrical engineering, I guess I can say it started after government took initiative to develop power projects (most probably Chukha) in the 1970’s. I have no hard evidence to back my unofficial claim. Before I came here I did met a alumni of Hoch Scholarship who is in his mid/late forties, so I think it is quite safe to say it started in 1970’s or before (assuming he is not the first person to get the scholarship). I do strongly believe that RCSC will have the record and will be in a good position to say about it. I will try to find it later!