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I have resolved in 2020 that WorldDenver no longer will be one of the best kept secrets in town.

I proudly serve on the board of this nonprofit organization, which seeks to promote engaged, global citizenship through education; cross-cultural exchange; and personal interaction with international leaders, professionals and students.

WorldDenver holds a contract with the United States State Department’s International Visiting Leaders Program to arrange the itinerary for international, emerging leaders who visit Denver. WorldDenver members have opportunities to meet these leaders when they visit — and also to attend the organization’s annual speaker series featuring senior diplomats, journalists and thought leaders who share ideas about timely global topics. For example, in October, WorldDenver hosted a presentation by Ambassador Joseph Yun, a former U.S. Special Representative for North Korea Policy who is recognized as one of the nation’s top experts on relations with that country and on broader U.S.-East Asian policy. Next month, renowned painter Quang Ho, who got his professional start in Denver, will share his art and personal story of escape from Vietnam.

Then there is the WorldDenver travel program, which provides extraordinary access to leaders and private venues in other countries and to unique, off-the-beaten-path experiences. In November, I joined a group of WorldDenver members on a trip to Bhutan, a small nation of about 800,000 sandwiched between China and India that has never been controlled or colonized by any other country. Bhutan established a national currency only in the 1950s and has founded democratic institutions in more recent decades. Still, its monarchy is revered, as are the monks and monasteries that have been part of the fabric of Bhutan for millennia.

And, for the most part, its people are happy — which is, perhaps, one of the greatest lessons the Bhutanese can teach Americans. “Gross National Happiness is more important than Gross Domestic Product,” first declared Bhutanese King Jigme Singye Wangchuck in 1972. Sustainable development, he said, takes a holistic view of national progress that gives equal importance to non-economic aspects of a person’s well being. In 2008, the Bhutanese enshrined in their national constitution Gross National Happiness as the goal for their government. The concept has caught on in other parts of the world. In 2011, The United Nations General Assembly called happiness a “fundamental human goal” and approved “Resolution Happiness: Towards a Holistic Approach to Development,” urging member nations to follow Bhutan’s example and measure happiness and well-being.

Bhutan conducts such assessments according to its “Gross National Happiness Index” — which can be analyzed by population group or district to help ensure underlying human needs are met. The index includes nine domains:

1. Psychological wellbeing
2. Health
3. Education
4. Time use
5. Cultural diversity and resilience
6. Good governance
7. Community vitality
8. Ecological diversity and resilience
9. Living standards

There are a lot of reasons and ways to get to Bhutan — and any other country you might like to visit — but through WorldDenver, the travel experience is indescribably richer. If you would like more information about the organization, please contact me.

Cardan Co-founding Partner Marti Awad, third from right, recently traveled to Bhutan with WorldDenver.

The content contained within, or linked to, this article does not represent the opinions and viewpoints of Cardan Capital Partners. It is meant for educational purposes and not meant to be a complete discussion of the Gross National Happiness Index. There is no assurance that any of the trends mentioned will continue in the future. Market performance cannot be predicted, so nothing in our commentaries is ever meant to provide any kind of guarantee of future results.

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