My personal emotions about Lha
My name is Dolker Choedon and I was born in Tibet in a tiny village far from the cities.
I was an illiterate person when I was in Tibet, because there weren’t any schools and our sustenance depended on nomadic life. I was a shepherd for a long time. There wasn’t any electricity where I lived, and it seemed like ancient times, even though we were living in the 21st century.
My brother was first to escape to India from Tibet. After our parents passed away, he has remained responsible for our family. After six years, he returned to Tibet even though it was dangerous. He felt such sympathy about our lifestyle, and he had a great willingness to share his worldly knowledge with us.
I was eager to start a new life, so we fled from Tibet to India in 2000. It was the biggest difficult that I have ever experienced in my life, but nevertheless, I could endure it because we had our end goal in sight – to come here. I received a marvelous opportunity when I reached India, as I was accepted into a branch of the main Tibetan Children’s Village (TCV) school in Suja, which was established by H.H the 14th Dalai Lama’s sister Jetsen Pema. All students are newcomers and from the Tibetan community. However, because even our English teachers are Tibetans, it was hard to improve in spoken English.
I was already grown up when I began attending TCV, and my knowledge level was totally different to those of my age, so I had to attend language classes instead of other types of classes, and TCV’s language class duration was only five years long. It seemed to me that school finished in a flash.
However, I eventually discovered Lha, a free educational center. They let me take an exam to check my English levels. My English was so poor, and my results revealed that I should attend Lha’s pre-intermediate class. I enrolled with Lha on the 19th of July, 2006.
In Lha’s English classes, I was no longer an old student, and I estimated that the students’ ages ranged from 20 to 45. Most of Lha’s students are jobless, Tibetan refugees in Dharamsala. Lha has welcomed us as well as the
Indian and Himalayan people freely. Lha has no limitations and everybody can join. All of the staff members are so calm.
There come lots of volunteers from the all over the world, and to me, they are much better than Tibetan teachers for teaching English. They have a lot of enthusiasm about teaching their knowledge to us. During the main day classes, volunteer teachers teach from English grammar books and textbooks, which we also receive from Lha sometimes (if Lha can afford it), and they teach us their general knowledge. It’s so helpful for us.
Between 4pm and 5pm, there is a conversation class for Lha students ranging from pre-intermediate level to advanced, which is taken by any foreign volunteers. It is such an interesting program. At first, I didn’t want to go to conversation class, as I didn’t feel I would be able to speak amongst people – maybe it’s also a cultural factor, or the habit of Tibetan women to keep quiet. But on the other hand, I realized that I had never had an experience like this. Later, I decided to join, and my speaking English has progressed more within two years at Lha than it has in five years at the Suja school. I can interact about the global histories and cultures of worldly people with logical ideas.
I have also been given other wonderful opportunities at Lha, like photography class, a cultural exchange with US university students, where I am also a university student’s email partner and a “mutual exchange partner”, and many confidence-building experiences and life experiences. In 2007, I was in intermediate class and this year, I have progressed to advanced class. Last year, I met ten American students from each university program group that came through Lha’s cultural exchange program. I love this program. It is so amazing and I have made so many good US friends through the program.
We can make many differences in our lives at Lha – there are many other opportunities, such as yoga, computer training, massage, and many other courses that we can attend.
Lha has the most stable classes of all the educational facilities in Dharamsala. It is only closed for four days during the Tibetan new year, otherwise, we can attend even in the winter time (when for some it is school holidays). Without these great people – the staff members, sponsors, volunteers and other any supporters, how would we Lha students gain these opportunities? I am highly appreciative, and, once again, I thank you for all of your work and your devotion to your goals. I respect and admire you for the wide range of social services that you provide.
This free educational center has made a big difference in my life and for many other adults, and through Lha, I have been able to interact with people from the four comers of the world.
I am full of gratitude for this wonderful centre.