Staff Spotlight: Sophie Ohaus


Sophie Ohaus is currently the Program Intern at The School for Field Studies (SFS) in Bhutan. Sophie graduated from Colorado College in 2014 with a degree in Sociology and Global Health. After graduating she spent the year working for a qualitative analytics firm and a local community foundation, but the urge for adventure kept calling, leading to her to one of the most remote countries in the world, Bhutan!

Did YOU study abroad?! If so, where and what inspired you to go?

I studied abroad three times! The first time was between high school and freshman year of college with The School For Field Studies in Australia. The second time was the summer between sophomore and junior year of college in Ecuador, and the third time was junior spring in India.

The first time I studied abroad, I went because I wanted a break from conventional schooling before starting college. However, I found that I loved it so much I was constantly driven towards finding more opportunities to study abroad.

Also, as a sociology major I discovered my passion for understanding how people interact with the world around them, especially the interactions between humans, development, and the environment. Studying abroad gave me the opportunity to explore these interactions among different cultures all over the world.

What do you believe to be the biggest factor in being a successful company?

Communication is key! I believe that proper communication is one of the most important aspects towards insuring a successful company, especially in study abroad where everyone is working outside their home environment and it is easy to get lost in a hectic schedule.

Our staff makes sure to check in at least once a day by having breakfast all together, and we have longer staff meetings once a week. These daily check-ins and weekly meetings help all of us stay on the same page and also makes sure that everything runs smoothly.

What unique qualities does your company possess?

I believe that The School for Field Studies gives its student a rare opportunity to immerse themselves and give back to the local community through the unique Directed Research (DR) component. During the DR part of the semester, students have the chance to conduct a research project that specifically relates to the local community’s environmental needs.

Due to each SFS research station’s unique long-term research plan, these projects can build off themselves year to year, ensuring that the research informs local stakeholders and helps them to create positive changes in the community.

Here in Bhutan, the students don’t only get to present to the local community, but they also get the opportunity to present to a much larger audience in the country’s capital of Thimphu.

The Directed Research aspect is such a strong feature of SFS that with the guidance of our professors and the help from local stakeholders, the students often produce very high quality reports which has allowed them to present back home, get published, or develop senior theses.

Describe a time when you felt especially proud to be part of the SFS team.

It's hard to pick one specific time that I've felt especially proud to be part of the SFS team, there are just too many! Seeing how much our students grow over their experience in Bhutan is always a very rewarding experience.

This usually culminates for me when I watch them present their Directed Research findings at the end of the semester. Dressed in traditional ghos and kiras, the students always impress me, not only with their research but also in the way that they present themselves.

The ease at which they can talk to the local people, dress in national dress, and discuss their research makes me proud to know that these students are a part of The School for Field Studies' community.