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Sunday School

Migyul spent a day at the Sunday school down at the NYANA premises at Battery Park. It was amazing to see a downtown office converted to a makeshift community space for the weekend. We couldn't imagine how this space might look like on a working day. Waiting chairs converted to classroom spaces and spaces around were used for practicising various traditional dance forms. Children with teachers in small classrooms while parents waited patiently helping out with various small duties.

On this cold wintry day, parents' sanded small wooden cubes to be used as teaching tools in the classrooms. Children of all ages were bundled into classrooms not by age groups but by the level of Tibetan education each had. Some sang out loud Tibetan songs, while others struggled with Tibetan grammar. Pizza was served along with some tea for lunch. Soon, over a hundred pairs of feet stood to attention at the sounds of the Tibetan national anthem. Not a sad face around but sounds of happy tapping feet — this seemed like another world far away — far away from here.

Tsering Choden (Sunday school teacher and volunteer.)

Tsering Choden, an alumni of CST Dalhousie, completed her BA degree from Jamia Milia, New Delhi and Masters (Geography), Delhi School of Economics. She worked in the Tibet Museum (DIIR) Dharamshala for 5 years before coming to the US for further studies in Museum Studies at NYU. "I have always been interested in children and offering my services to the Tibetan community. I think that the most important thing presently for the Tibetans is to preserve Tibetan language and culture especially in the West where Tibetans do not have access to community services. I think this is my personal contribution to the Tibetan community. The needs of the Sunday school is great and ranges from the provision of an entire education package management to administration, from acquiring a school building to getting improved facilities and teachers. While more qualified teachers are required, there is a greater need for parents to encourage their children to learn the language and also raise awareness towards promoting a pride in Tibetan Heritage and Identity. There could be an effort by Tibetans in New York towards donating more time and money towards improving the situation of the Sunday school. "

 

"I have always been interested in children and offering my services to the Tibetan community. I think that the most important thing presently for the Tibetans is to preserve Tibetan language and culture — especially in the West where Tibetans do not have access to community services..."

 

Sonam Chonzom (Sunday school teacher and volunteer)

Sonam Chonzom, an alumni of CST Darjeeling, completed her BA and holds a diploma from Calcutta. India. In New York , she currently works as a babysitter. Known to her friends as Ruby, she has been an active member of various Tibetan community groups and associations and is well known in Tibetan circles in New York for her voluntary efforts. "I became interested in the Sunday school seeing the interest of the Tibetan students here. There are many Tibetans here in New York going to various schools and high schools that spend most of their time at school. As a result, many of our Tibetan children are highly influenced by the American system of education and forget our heritage owing to the lack of accessibility to a Tibetan education. There is a great motivation in these Tibetan children to learn their culture and language and even though I am not a qualified teacher, I was drawn towards teaching them what I know - even if it is simply teaching them the basic Tibetan alphabet. There is a need in the Sunday school for more space. Sometimes, there are two classes that take place in one small room, which is very disturbing for children. It is amazing to see such co-operation between the parents and teachers which makes education and educating these children very easy and enjoyable. I don't think money is an issue for the Sunday school presently. I think there needs to be more public support and parents need to encourage other parents to join in and send in their children to school. More qualified teachers are required."

 

"...many of our Tibetan children are highly influenced by the American system of education and forget our heritage owing to the lack of accessibility to a Tibetan education. There is a great motivation in these Tibetan children to learn their culture and language"