While returning to Sarah College from McLeodgang, I ran into a student of mine from English class. As an exile Tibetan, particularly one who has moved mostly in non-Tibetan settings (Indian boarding schools, American universities and workplaces), my interactions with Tibetans from Tibet has been limited. And one of the things I’m really enjoying at Sarah is the chance to talk with Tibetans my age who were born and raised in Tibet. So I asked NT why he had made the trek into town. NT left Tibet, his parents and his siblings eight years ago.
`To call my family,’ he said. `I call them about once a month.’
`And how are they doing?’
`They’re doing well. But my parents want me to come back.’
`Why? You went through a lot of trouble to leave Tibet, why are they asking you to come back?’
`Well my parents are getting old and they are worried about not seeing me before they die.’
The conversation left me intensely angry and sad.
The other day, I was leading one of my classes in English conversation practice. The topic was: `If you could meet anyone in the world, who would you meet?’ The first person I asked picked George Bush. Why? He wanted to ask Bush why he had not tried to do more for Tibet.
Next person: `I would like to meet my mother because she cares a lot for me and I have not meet her for many years and I miss her.’
Next: `My father because I have not seen him after I was a baby.’
Next: `My family because I miss them a lot and I have not meet them since six years.’
I had expected to hear my students say they wanted to meet the rich and famous.
`So…,’ I flailed about and finally asked one of the students, `can you tell us something about your mother?’
My question brought this monk in his mid-twenties to the verge of tears. The rest of the class, including myself, were now in serious danger of some sniffling and crying. So I changed the subject to something else and made it safely to the end of class.
p.s. I will write a later post about why these students chose to leave Tibet in the first place