Education in Exile: Teaching in a Tibetan Refugee Community in the Himalayas
When His Holiness the Dalai Lama of Tibet was forced to flee his homeland in 1959, he settled in Dharamsala, a hill station in the Himalayan foothills of northern India. Dharamsala is now the center of a vibrant Tibetan refugee community: it is the seat of the Tibetan Government-in-Exile and home to thousands of Tibetans who have escaped political and religious oppression in their homeland and followed their leader into exile. It is also a backpacker’s paradise, with tourists from around the world—drawn to the town’s mountainous landscape and promise of spiritual awakening—mixing with the Tibetan and Indian residents in a true cultural mélange. In 2007, Professor Gamtso spent her six-month sabbatical living and working in Dharamsala, where she taught English to Tibetan refugees and experienced firsthand the beauty of their ancient, rich, and tragically threatened culture. Join Carolyn for a discussion of her adventures in India, where she braved monsoon downpours—and roaming livestock—to get to language class; learned about the rules of cricket from sports-crazy monks; studied Buddhist philosophy with a respected lama; and discovered that ultimately her Tibetan students were the true teachers.