Tibetans in Exile Struggle to Keep Culture Alive


2004-04-21
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Many Tibetans who fled their homeland following the 1950 invasion by Chinese troops have struggled to keep an in-depth knowledge of their language and culture alive, an exiled Tibetan medical doctor told RFA's Tibetan service.

Dr. Tawu Lobsang Palden first arrived in Germany in 1963 on a sponsorship program for six Tibetan boys and six Tibetan girls to study their own language and culture alongside receiving a Western-style education.

Later on when a German sponsorship organization offered special educational opportunity for six Tibetan boys and six girls, he not only had the opportunity to go to Germany but to study Tibetan language and literature along with Western education as teachers and foster parents were also sent with them.

"We used to attend German school in the morning and study Tibetan language and culture and so on in the afternoon at home," Lobsang Palden told RFA's Tibetan service. "We really had an excellent opportunity. Otherwise, I still wouldn't be able to speak Tibetan fluently. All 12 of us Tibetans even today can speak Tibetan on top of German, of course."

Lobsang Palden said he left he left his home in Shigatse in 1958 with his father and fled to India, where he was educated in a Tibetan school in the Indian hill-town of Shimla.

"At that time, when Tibet was defeated, I was about six years of age," he remembers. "At that time we were living in Shegatse. My father was a businessman. While we were living in Shigatse, in 1958, all the Khampas [people from Kham?] in Shigatse and the surrounding areas got arrested. At that time my mother insistently suggested my father escape along with me to avoid the danger. "

"My mother and my two sisters were able to come to India only in 1959. Like all other Tibetans, they were unable to bring any property with them. They had to leave everything in Tibet," Lobsang Palden said. "After they arrived in India they spent all their money on my education. Later on when my mother and others arrived we faced financial problem and that was the reason why I was withdrawn from the [St. Augustine School] and sent to Central Tibetan Residential School, in Shimla."

"In 1963 some people from Germany visited our school and offered an educational opportunity for six boys and six girls to study in a German kindergarten school. I got selected to be in that group and came to Germany in 1963. Now, from 1963 to the present, I have lived, studied and worked in Germany for about forty years," Lobsang Palden said.

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