-Report filed by OOT, Brussel-
Belgium: Continuing with his efforts to encourage and support the Tibetan community Sunday School in Belgium, Representative Tashi Phuntsok, accompanied by Secretary Thutop Namgyal, visited Sherap Nangjey Sunday School in Antwerp yesterday. The school is run and administered by Tibetan Community in Belgium. It has over 100 students and has two branches, in Anterwerp and Mechelen.
The highlight of the visit was his interaction with the senior most class. Engaging with them he had a lively session. Taking a cue from a student’s experience of being able to learn much more easily on the basis of certain impressions he accumulated indirectly in the past, an interesting discussion ensued. For example, a child who was in the lap of his/her parents, and indirectly heard the prayers that the parents recited every day, left an impression on the child. Later in life, he or she would be able to learn that prayer with an easier facility. The same may be the case within any area of learning. Creating an atmosphere of positive impressions and building on them.
However, before that two sessions were held separately. The first meeting was with the board of the Tibetan community and the administrative staff of the school. The Representative appreciated the community leaders for their tireless effort in running the school against all odds. As a voluntary community activity, he acknowledged the various challenges it would encounter. But such grassroots work was the foundation of Tibetan exile’s success. He wholeheartedly thanked them.
Taking an opportunity of the presence of all senior people of the community he briefly updated on the proposed Grand 60th Anniversary of Tibetan Uprising in 2019, both in Dharamsala and in Brussels. He once again impressed upon the meeting the significance of the proposed demographic survey of the Tibetan community outside the Indian Sub-continent.
Later during the school’s recess, he met with the teachers. Again he reiterated his appreciation of their voluntary work. He acknowledged the difference between schools run on a voluntary basis and those run by the government for Tibetan diaspora. In the same way, the school curriculum would be too rigid if it was aimed to be the same disregarding circumstances that are entirely different.
Within a school it would have to innovate, he said. The school run today by Tibetans in the West may be different from what it might become later. At present, because of Tibetan elders with Tibetan background and many students have come from other Tibetan schools, have the normal facility to learn it much more easily. In the future, if the community is unable to keep up the daily use of language at home, running the Sunday School would have a whole lot of new challenges.
He appealed to the teachers to take into account the child’s psychology and mental capacity while imparting lessons. The Tibetan students have the double pressure of integrating into western society in the context of traumatic Tibetan history and experience. Their daily life is indeed a lesson in accommodation and adjustment. Being aware of this and making the best of what the Sunday School offered would go a long way in providing positive life-long experience to the children, he concluded.
The Tibetan community and the School management thanked the Representative immensely. They requested for similar visits in the future. The visits created a positive and great impact and indeed boosted the work of the community.