After working in a school for a good twenty years, I thought of taking a year break and doing a new job just for a change. Lately, I developed some fancy for working in some offices near my resident. Actually, I had wished I could join a monastery or an old age home to give whatever service I could to the best of my ability. In the wake of all these pondering, one of my friends informed me about this present job at the Tibet Fund. So, after discussing with my family and relatives, I decided to give a try.
So, I came to Dharamsala for my first office job with a free lodging from my friend, Dr. Chok. I joined the Tibet Fund for an eight-month contract job, to replace one senior Education Specialist, who would be soon joining TCV School.
The office was located on the top floor of the former Khashag building, which is shared by the Department of Health. There is a long stair going straight towards our office. From my office, I could see the beautiful view of Gangchen Kyishong, the tiny roads and the snow capped mountains.
As I walked into the office I was greeted and hand shaken by my new colleagues. The office was small and cosy with only five staff members who look nice and pleasant. The very first impression I got about my colleagues was good. Mr. Bob, whom I was supposed to be meeting, was not there but there was someone next to him. He gave me some documents to read which I completed.
It was 9 am and I had to stay in the office till 1 pm when the lunch would start. Since it was my first day, I did not have to be serious. I just sat at one corner and read some documents which Mr. Kalsang la gave.
I came from a very active and lively environment, in a sense when I was teaching; I would go to a class, run here and there, and talk with the students and colleagues. There was not much time for me to sit and do long work. Over here, it was bit different as I was in my office occupying one chair doing the work continuously except for the occasional fresh air break. Everyone seemed busy in their own desktops and there was silence except for the occasional enquiry here and there.
For me it was very difficult to occupy a table and sit on a chair till 1 pm and then from 2 pm till 5 pm. I was not used to such an atmosphere before. I remember going out of the office so many times to stretch my legs, take long breath and stretch my head and shoulder on the very first day. Probably, my colleagues understood me. During the one hour lunch break, I asked one of my colleagues whether it was okay to go out often. I felt relieved when I heard that I could!
The office has a big thermos, which was filled with hot water all the time. And there at one corner were coffee and the tea leaves: both masala and herbal, which we could have anytime. So, that was something that really came to my help as I had missed having hot water during my long educational tour.
The lunch started at 1 pm. I had heard a lot about “Gangkyi Chithab”, the common staff kitchen. So, I went with my colleagues and joined the long queue. For me, the long line was not a problem as I was fully excited to get the experience of the mess. While waiting in the queue, I kept sending my eyes here and there. There were so many young staff members and it was good to see them.
Within some minutes, we were in the mess. The mess fare for a meal was Rs. 15/- which my colleague sponsored. The food was nice and there were so many familiar faces too and my former students. The whole mess was buzzing in their small cluster of groups here and there, which I liked because it was a bit change of air from the office.
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An apple of one’s eye
The recent news of Tenzin Chokyi of THF bagging the most coveted Sikyong Merit award for her 95.4 percentage in the All India class XII CBSE board thronged the social media like face book and twitter and generated much excitement amongst the Tibetans. The news came as a blessing in the wake of a time when everyone was worried about young Tibetans not performing as well as their Indian counterparts academically. One could feel the joy and ecstasy among Tibetans from all walks of life, on hearing about Tenzin Chokyi’s achievement, irrespective of whether they directly know her or not. This shows that our ears are always longing to hear about such great achievements by any Tibetans in any field. The CTA under the leadership of Sikyong himself took the matter seriously; she was given the due honor and publicity.
Thus, this gesture from Sikyong and CTA has sent a strong message of encouragement for not only the young Tibetan students to excel in their studies but also for both the parents and teachers to motivate children to achieve academic distinctions. Tenzin Chokyi’s performance has broken the long held notion that securing more than 95 in the class XII board exam is not possible! It is also a new beginning and a good omen for producing more Tenzin Chokyis in future.
Namgyal Rapper’s song “No Next Time” quite vocally asserts that it was high time for the students to show their results, riches to show their economy, heroes to show their valor etc. I really agree with him. It’s time for all of us to show the perfect results in whatever we are engaged in otherwise there is no next time.
I feel the need for holistic effort; focusing only politics will not serve to fulfill our immediate and ultimate goals. Jamyang Gyaltsen la, the Education Officer at Department of Education CTA in his article “BEP Myths Debunked” April 13 2013 in Merabsarpa.com had lamented that most of the discussions in exile community was political in nature and that discussion on education was rare. I agree with him. Discussion about Education should be held at all levels and it is as important as our political discourses. Further, the role of improving the educational standard should not be confined to educational institutes alone- all should share the responsibility.
The introduction of various scholarships by Sikyong through the Education Department had motivated the present students a lot. And today, Tenzin Chokyi had done her part and made all of us Tibetans proud. I hope and pray that this may not be the first and the last but a beginning for thousand others to follow her footsteps. The need of the hour is to make the younger generation aware of the importance of education in the field of our freedom struggle.
As it is obvious that we all yearn to hear the news of Tibetan students bringing laurels, we need to cultivate the habit of giving importance to education from all the stakeholders; students, parents, teachers, administrations, and organizations alike. With that synergy, I hope there will be not just one but many more young achievers among us.