I remember well the first time I laid my eyes on Sengdruk Taktse School. I was sitting on the back of a motorcycle, clutching the jacket of the Tibetan man who offered me a ride from the nearby town of Darlag, as we flew swiftly down the dirt road. Making our way down the road alongside the snake-like Machu River, or Yellow River in Chinese, I kept wondering when would arrive at the school. Finally, as we turned a corner, a large open valley came into sight, and I could see the school sitting at the top of a small plateau nestled into the left side of the valley.
At that time I knew very little about Sengdruk Taktse School except that it was a school for mostly orphans and was started by an influential Buddhist teacher named Khenpo Kunzang. Over the next few months, as I taught English at the school, and spent time with the students and the teachers, I realized that my relationship with this school was going to be something more than just teaching there.
I remember, one cold morning after a night of snow, as I took a short walk outside of the school, I stood for a bit looking back at the school from a distance. I could hear the children of the school, ranging in ages from 5 to 18, beginning their day. I could hear some of the younger students making sounds of joy as they chased one another playfully from their dormitory to the classroom, while some of the older kids sounded like teachers giving orders to the younger students. All the sounds were held together by a common thread of concern for one another, like a close family.
Standing there, I started to think about how great it was that these kids, most of whom are the first ones in their family to ever receive an education, have been given a chance to receive an education. Many of these students not only come from extremely poor nomadic families, but many have also lost one or both parents. Some of the parents have died of natural causes, others have died in accidents, and others have simply not survived the harsh struggle of the life of a nomad on the highest plateau on earth.
As I thought about the students and the education they were receiving I noticed that my expectations for these students was quite low. I realized that disguised within my thoughts of compassion were actually thoughts of pity, as if getting an education here was just some kind of token gesture. As soon as I recognized that mentality within myself, those thoughts turned into something much more genuine and hopeful. I thought to myself, “No, these kids don’t deserve an education that is any less than the education any of us in America would receive. Why can’t this school become a place of unsurpassed, quality education? There is so much potential here!”
It was after I had those thoughts that I finally felt that I was seeing eye to eye with the founders of Sengdruk Taktse School. Their vision for the students and children of the Tibetan plateau is nothing less than to provide the best education possible in order to fully restore the greatness of Tibetan culture and society.
Building upon the vast and profound traditions of the past and uniting them with modern education and science, the students of Sengdruk Taktse are some of the brightest hopes for the future of the people of the Tibetan plateau. This has been proven by the fact that for the past two years, the students of Sengdruk Taktse School have had the highest standardized test scores out of any school in the entire Golok region, an area approximately the size of Austria, located in southern Qinghai Provence, China. The education these students get at Sengdruk Taktse School is unlike any other school in the region.
It is with all these thoughts in mind that the Joru Foundation works to ensure that Sengdruk Taktse School will be able to continue providing quality education for Tibetans inside Tibet. Our primary tool for gathering supporters of our work thus far has been the internet. Never before has it been possible to share your message and goals with so many people from all walks of life and all geographical location, than it is now due to the power of modern technology.
Adnan and the team at Jolkona understand the power of the internet fully well. Not only that, they understand the power of people working together to support each others visions to make this world a better place. This was the initial feeling I had when I first came upon the Jolkona website. I knew that partnering with the Jolkona Team was a win win situation for everyone, so I did not hesitate to join.
It didn’t take long for us to benefit from our partnership with Jolkona. Out of the blue, I received an email from someone stating that they wanted to help our project to support Sengdruk Taktse School. In particular, this individual wanted to sponsor all the girls in the first grade! Through Jolkona, this sponsor was able to make a connection to our project – a connection that will hopefully last a long time. This sponsor has not only shown her commitment by sponsoring the girls of the first grade, but she has also shown her concern for our project by working with us to ensure that a mentorship infrastructure is in place in order to help the girls of the first grade continue their education until graduation.
I hope that visitors to the Jolkona website will offer any support they can, whether it is by telling a friend about one of the many great and deserving projects on this site, or by contributing to a project themselves. We are much stronger when we work together. Projects like Jolkona can help all of our efforts become more concentrated by coming together to achieve common goals. Our project to give education to Tibetans has benefited from this vision, and I hope your project does too.