This week, author Lisa Napoli ( center front )will discuss her transformative time volunteering for a Bhutanese radio station.
Courtesy Photo

Coming to speak in Santa Barbara this week is Lisa Napoli, the former New York Times reporter and public radio show host whose recent travels to the Kingdom of Bhutan became the subject of her memoir, Radio Shangri-La: What I Learned in Bhutan, the Happiest Kingdom on Earth. Hosted by Professor Andrea Haupt, Napoli will lecture at the campus of Santa Barbara City College about her experiences among the Bhutanese, living and working on the beautiful southern slopes of the eastern Himalayas.

“This is the story of my midlife crisis,” writes Napoli in her book’s preface, “and how I wrestled with and transcended it, thanks to a chance encounter that led me to a mysterious kingdom in Asia few have visited.” This serendipity came in the form of a volunteer opportunity to help start Bhutan’s first youth-oriented radio station, Kuzoo FM.

Napoli said that her “main thrust” for her talk at SBCC “will be to explain why people in Santa Barbara should care and learn from a tiny, poor kingdom that is more concerned with Gross National Happiness over Gross Domestic Product.” As a former technology reporter, she’s fascinated by the changes media has brought to Bhutan, which, until about a decade ago, didn’t provide television access.

“The world is a very big place,” Napoli explained, “but it’s also interconnected. Life is not about us as individuals. It’s about helping other people and what we can do collectively.”

“Lisa Napoli’s experience in various parts of media and recently in Bhutan make her an excellent candidate to speak about the cultural aspects of globalization,” said Haupt, who works under SBCC’s Global Studies program, which is focused on understanding today’s complex, interdependent world through studying history, technology, international politics, economics, culture, and the environment. “As globalization leaves few people unaffected, this topic should be of interest to students and community members alike.”

Napoli’s talk will be held in Professor Haupt’s Global Studies 101 class, this Wednesday, April 25, at 12:45 pm in the Administration Building’s Room 211.


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