Tibetan Culture Transmission Project 2020

TCEF believes that the endangered Tibetan culture premised on compassion and altruism is precious, not only for Tibetans but also for the whole world. We think it is vital to transmit it to the children.

We also believe that Tibetan children and youth in exile are disadvantaged by birth, that as stateless children, they struggle with identity and face emotional problems. We believe that helping them learn about their roots and culture will provide them a sense of identity, belonging, and emotional balance.

Before starting on a project to help transmit the culture to the children, it was vital to study and see what resources are already in place. Here is an overview of what we found out:

1.Efforts by Tibetan Educators in exile to transmit culture to the children
a) In the early nineties, the medium of instruction in Tibetan schools in exile changed from English to Tibetan. The Education Development and Research (EDRC) wing of TCV and the publication wing of the Department of Education (DOE) brought out textbooks in Tibetan. The EDRC also established and runs a teacher training program that trains Tibetan teachers to teach with Tibetan as the medium of instruction.

b) Tibetan Dance, Music, and Drama Programs are a part of the curriculum of all Tibetan schools in exile. The Tibetan Institute of Performing Arts (TIPA), helps to train teachers in this subject.

c) A Tibetan religious instructor is part of most residential Tibetan schools.

d) Apart from textbooks mentioned earlier, the publication wing of DOE has brought out several children’s magazines in Tibetan. Magazines like Phayul and Gangjong have been relatively popular with Tibetan children. More recently, they also have added some animation children’s stories.

2.The Himalayan Digital Library and other ‘Tibetan’ web sites
There are scores of ‘Tibet’ related web sites. Many of these are from Dharma Centers established all over the globe. Then there are commercial web sites whose aim is to sell Tibetan artifacts like Tibetan thangkas or Tibetan rugs, ritual objects, etc. As a learning resource, The Himalayan Digital Library developed by the University of Virginia provides much information on many aspects of Tibetan art and culture. Another resource for Tibetan culture is the Library of Tibetan Works and Archives at Dharamsala, India. While both have remarkable collections and are great learning resources, they are academic and scholarly, and not the resources for young Tibetan children.

3.North American Tibetan Community Cultural Needs Assessment Project,2002
We also studied the findings and recommendations of the above project undertaken by the Conservancy for Tibetan Art and Culture (CTAC). Its findings echoed what we know to be true – that Tibetan children in Diaspora here in America are losing their cultural values, that they are facing an identity crisis, and that these are resulting in behavioral problems not common in Tibetan cultures. CTAC recommendations included introducing Tibetan language classes, cultural art classes, inviting Tibetan religious teachers, tradition bearers and Tibetan specialists, holding summer camps for Tibetan children, creating study programs for Tibetan children to study in Tibetan communities in India and Nepal, establishing community centers, temples/shrines and a national center for Tibetan arts and culture.

There are two critical takeaways from the information above:

1.That Tibetans know how important it is to try and preserve their culture and to pass it to their children. Over the years, they have undertaken several steps to help this transmission, as mentioned in the above paragraphs.

2.The efforts do not include a collection of simple, fun, and relatable videos on Tibetan culture. In fact, in today’s world, where the internet is full of videos, if you are a Tibetan parent, searching for something fun and informative about Tibet and its culture for your children, you would be disappointed. Videos are the current trend, and it seems vital to use this medium.


  1. To provide Tibetan children in Diaspora a fun and interesting way to learn about their culture.
  2. To raise awareness of Tibetan culture and eternal Tibetan values here in the West by providing the global community easy and exciting tools to learn about Tibetans and their culture.

The project can be implemented in four main stages, as follows:

Stage 1. Selecting Essential Understanding topics and doing research
TCEF will use all our connections with Tibetans and Tibetan organizations to choose a list of Tibetan culture topics that we feel Tibetan youth might be interested in. This list does not need to be complete or perfect. Later, we can open the conversation to wider Tibetan audiences and add or delete topics depending on the feedback. In this way, we can ensure that the topics are organic, alive, and attractive to our audience.

While interest will be an important consideration, we will also weigh the topics to see if they are a core part of the culture we want to transmit. In other words, in selecting the topics, we will also factor in the Essential Understandings of Tibetan culture, making sure that we transmit all that is truly valuable and remarkable.

Stage 2. Filming and creating videos
In collaboration with partners and with the cooperation of Tibetans in exile, we will start filming short, three to five-minute videos on the selected topics. In creating the videos, we will be clear about who our target audiences are. They are the Tibetan youth-in our schools and institutions in exile in India, Nepal, and Bhutan, the Tibetan youth in Diaspora in Europe, America, Australia and New Zealand, and in any other area in the world. It is also for Tibetan youth back home in our mother country.

When we review content, when we discuss the visuals associated with our content, we will always remember who are target audiences are. Making every video fun, exciting, and engaging to the Tibetan youth is paramount. Having that correct mix of accurate content and an engaging presentation will be a priority throughout the production of the videos.

Stage 3. Creating a website to collect all content
As the videos are made, we will make it as easy as possible for everyone to access them. This includes sharing them on Youtube and other platforms. We will also create a web site that will specifically host the collection of videos, and we have already bought the domain As the collection increases, we will categorize content and also make topics easily searchable.

Stage 4. Producing more learning tools
Finally, since we have done the leg work and have all the content, we will edit, categorize and create learning videos on key Tibetan culture topics like The Festivals of Tibet or The Sacred Arts of Tibet, etc. These will be learning resources that we might be able to market or provide gratis to Tibetan institutions and any other interested institution here in the USA or even globally.

Our best hope is that the videos will have an immediate good impact on Tibetan children and Tibetan homes. If we succeed in making fun and engaging videos, we are confident they will be received well. In the long-term, we know that this project has not only the potential to help transmit our culture to the children, but also to teach it to all others.

One of the fundamental beliefs behind this project is that transmitting the culture to the children will provide them a sense of identity and a sense of belonging that they can be proud of. It can help Tibetan children in Diaspora find some balance, which in turn can translate to better behavior and becoming happy and useful members of the community.

We cannot overstate the mental and emotional problems of stateless persons, especially young children. It is almost as if they are without their roots, trying unsuccessfully to copy lifestyles and grasp onto the cultures of their host countries.

The Conservancy for Tibetan Art & Culture with support from the Rockefeller Foundation had done a North American Tibetan Community Cultural Needs Assessment in 2002. We are quoting a segment of its findings that support our observations:

“A myriad of social and emotional issues facing Tibetan youth and their families have emerged from the experience of Diaspora. A number of parents expressed deep concern about patterns of problem behavior and delinquency among a growing number of Tibetan youth since moving to North America. This seemed to be a phenomenon in particular among boys in the communities. These problems included not observing parental boundaries, challenging parental authority, violence, gang involvement, substance abuse, school truancy and dropping out of school. Parents in the U.S. attributed many of these problems to an open American society with too many freedoms, which many parents believe are being exploited by their children to break traditional family and cultural patterns and expectations.”

Viewed from this lens of behavioral problems arising from culture loss and displacement, we think this project to help transmit the culture to the children can have a good and lasting impact on the lives of thousands of Tibetan children and youth in Diaspora.

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2019 Holiday Season Fundraising Campaigns

This season TCEF is doing two fundraising campaigns: one for the children and the other for the elders.

For the children, we’re trying to bring the internet and educational technologies into their classrooms. We started fundraising for this project last year and raised $11,000! But, we did not quite reach our funding goal. So, this year we are making another effort. We are rethinking the project and at this time trying to implement this project in just one school – Tibetan Nehru Memorial Foundation School at Clement Town. 

We’ve exchanged many ideas with this school and think that we have a program that can make a real difference for the students. Here is a summary of our goals:

  • Bring the internet into the classrooms
  • Purchase big screen monitors for all classrooms up to grade 5
  • Till grade 5, Tibetan is the medium of instruction in Tibetan schools.Procure and use software that helps the Tibetanization of education.
  • Procure tablets, laptops and overhead projectors for middle and senior sections
  • Help create a Multi-Media or Smart Classroom room.

Donation button and campaign details are are available at the link below. When donating, at the optional message area, please insert Internet & Computers

The children inspired the other fundraising campaign to benefit needy Tibetan elders in exile. Earlier this summer the Kyitsel-ling children had a hands-on culture learning experience. They hand-printed many beautiful traditional Tibetan prayer flags. The intention all along was the use these hand printed prayer flags to benefit the elders. Here are some highlights of this campaign: 

  • During this Holiday Season, we are hoping to raise $50 for every elder on our program. So our campaign goal is $5000. 
  • We’ve already raised $1000 and need $4000 more
  • Prayer flags are available in two sizes

Donation button and campaign details are available at the link below. When donating, at the optional message area, please indicate preferred size and number of sets of prayer flags you want.

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Bollywood Night 2019 Event Sponsors

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Bollywood Night 2019 Schedule

Bollywood Night 2019 Schedule

6.30 pm

Doors open for people who need help with Bollywood/Indian attire AND for people who need extra time to check out the fabulous Silent Auction collection.

7.00 pm

Doors open for everyone. Beer, wine and soft drink bars are open. Hors d’oeuvres are set, the bazaar, selfie photo booth and silent auctions are all open. Mix, mingle, find your tables/seating.

7.20 pm

Honoring TCEF founder India Supera.

7.30 pm

Use your paddles to bid on the great collection of Live Auction Items.

8.00 to 10.00 pm

Non stop Bollywood music and dancing. Prashant Kakad, Bollywood DJ and Brittany Newton, acclaimed dancer will demonstrate latest Bollywood dance moves, Bollywood Dreams Entertainment dancers will showcase hit dance numbers and everyone gets to join in and just have fun.

10.00 pm


10.15 to midnight

Bollywood dance and music continued.

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Bollywood Night 2019 Live Auction Items

Davis Cooper cabin on Lake Placid

Indian summer at Placid Lake
Donated by Alan Davis & Karen Cooper

Enjoy a beautiful Indian summer retreat at Placid Lake with a six-night stay at Karen Cooper and Alan Davis’ cabin on the lake. The cabin is nestled among the tamaracks and aspens and has a beautiful view of the lake framed by the spectacular Swan range. Indian summer is the most picturesque time to be at Placid as both the Aspens and Western Larch become golden as they transform into their fall colors. Listen to the loons wail, the elk bugle, or watch the trumpeter swans, bald eagles, osprey and blue herons that roost nearby. Kayak or paddleboat on the lake or up the inlet, hike or bike on the nearby trails, fish the lake or nearby streams, golf at the beautiful Double Arrow Golf Course at nearby Seeley Lake, have S’mores by the fire or simply enjoy and relax on the deck taking in the amazing view. The cabin comfortably sleeps six. Dates are flexible within the September-October 2020 time frame and subject to Cooper/Davis approval.
Roy’s cabin near the Tetons

Winter Lodging & Skiing in Idaho’s Teton Valley.
Donated by Roy Andes
This get-away package provides lodging for three nights in a lovely three bedroom cottage looking out on Grand Teton National Park.  Just a few miles from Driggs, Idaho, there’s sleeping room for up to 6 people. Included are two all-day ski passes at Grand Targhee Resort, with its world-renowned  powder, and slopes visible from the cabin window–assuming it’s not getting a powder dump!  Also included are gift certificates for several of Driggs finest restaurants, and a variety of treats.
The cabin is dog friendly and has been blessed by a Tibetan spiritual Rinpoche.
Feathered Pipe Ranch, Helena

Fabulous week-long Retreat at the  Feathered Pipe Ranch in 2020 
Donated by the Feathered Pipe Foundation 
Choose ANY  weeklong program with just one or two exclusions
Nestled in the heart of the Montana Rockies, the Feathered Pipe Ranch is one of the oldest centers for conscious living and yoga retreats in the country. It was chosen as the #1 “Mindful Yoga Destination” in the Yoga Journal’s annual travel & culture issue. It offers workshop experiences guided by some of the world’s finest teachers in a relaxed, leisurely, natural setting. 
Indian Dishes

Authentic Indian Dinner for 8
Donated by Ish Kaur
Enjoy a fresh home cooked Indian dinner by Ish Kaur for 6 to 8 people. On the menu will be daal- squash Soup, Chicken Korma, Spinach with potatoes, Lemon Rice and Naan served along with delicious Chai…Offer is valid till March 2020

Flight for 2-3 people* in a Cessna 172 with experienced pilot Don Eisenmenger!  

From the Helena airport, you can take a few hours flight (75-100 mile radius) to fly over the areas of your choice.  For example, you could fly south over the Missouri River and Canyon Ferry to Bozeman for lunch, or fly north over the Missouri River, next to the Gates of the Mountains, and up near Square Butte.    Tip your wings over your home in Helena!

Winner can schedule for anytime in next 12 months (weather depending), by contacting Don at 495-9469 or

Katie Campbell Yoga

Yoga Training, Home Studio and Personalized Retreat Stay near the base of Mt.Helena
Boudhnath Stupa at Kathmandu, Nepal

TCEF Footsteps of the Buddha Tour Mar 2020
SPECIAL PROMOTIONAL OFFER. 15 day fabulous trip to the heart of Buddhist India and Sikkim. Covers nearly everything except for
International airfare and personal expenses.
High Quality Tibetan Carpet

A Pair of High Quality Tibetan Carpets

Genuine high quality hand knotted Tibetan Carpets are woven from New Zealand wool. High Quality with 80 knots per square inch. Woven by Tibetan refugees in exile, each 6’x3’ carpet takes a skilled carpet weaver roughly a whole month to weave.
Traditional rainbow border central dragon phoenix design symbolizing strength and harmony.

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Transmitting Culture

In exile, Tibetans have built over three hundred monasteries and close to a hundred schools. These are sanctuaries of our culture. Even though the dream of a free independent Tibet may not be very realistic at this time, many Tibetans feel that what is even more precious and certainly more realistic, is trying to keep the distinct Tibetan identity intact and then making efforts to transmit our culture with its spiritual values down to the children.

In this field, the Tibetan refugee schools in exile have played and continue to play a significant role. Tibetan schools in exile operate within the broad framework of its host countries in Nepal and especially in India. Yet, within those contrasts, Tibetan educators and administrators have striven and found ways to use the school system to help transmit the culture to the children.

Early in the nineties, Tibetan educators adopted a policy that may be termed as the Tibetanization of education. Simply put, Tibetan educators decided to switch the medium of instruction from English to Tibetan at the primary school level. Realizing the importance of transmitting our culture to the children, this was a conscious effort to use the schools to help in this task.

This switch entailed developing our own curriculum and printing books in all subjects in Tibetan and then training teachers to teach in this medium. This was no small task for an exiled community, but spearheaded by the Tibetan Children’s Village (TCV) group of schools, Tibetan educators embraced this policy and we’ve made significant strides. In time, aside from textbooks, colorful children’s literature has also been developed. Check out this beautiful collection from the Sambhota Tibetan Schools, Society, Dharamsala, India:

Most of the larger Tibetan schools in exile are residential boarding schools. These invariably have a religious teacher who grounds them into our spiritual tradition. Buddhism is so steeped into Tibetan lives so that sometimes it is difficult to separate Tibetan and Mahayana Buddhist cultures.
Tibetan schools also have Tibetan Music, Dance, and Drama as part of their school curriculum. Performing Arts is an important part of our culture. In exile, Tibetans have tried to recreate some key cultural institutions. One of them is the Tibetan Institute of Performing Arts (TIPA). Based in Dharamsala, TIPA artists have been showcasing Tibetan performing art across the globe. Many of the teachers who teach Tibetan Dance and Music in our schools are graduates of this amazing institution. More information on TIPA is available at
What seems essential to help the Tibetan Dance & Music programs to succeed is the availability of the traditional musical instruments and the really colorful dance and drama costumes. Transmitting the Tibetan culture to the children in exile is a challenging task. In India, Tibetans are surrounded by a billion Indians and India has vast powers of assimilation. In the past several invaders had come to conquer the land, only to be ultimately assimilated into the mosaic of India. So a hundred thousand Tibetans can so easily be swept away in this tide of assimilation.
There are many things that Tibetan children find attractive in exile – Bollywood, Hollywood, and Youtube are huge attractions. So, in a way, our cultural programs are competing with these attractions for our children’s interest. That is why we have to try and make our programs as attractive as we can.
Fortunately, it does seem like when programs are run well with the needed resources, they are successful. At Kyitsel-ling Tibetan Children’s Education Center, N India, the children enjoy them. They like to rehearse their dances, learn the traditional musical instruments and when we have TCEF groups visit them, they put on wonderful concerts for us. What is perhaps most important is that the children really seem to be animated and happy during these performances.

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Tibetan Prayer Flags Project

An introduction to Tibetan Prayer Flags

Traditionally, prayer flags are used to promote peace, compassion, strength, and wisdom. Tibetans believe the prayers and mantras printed on the flags will be blown by the wind to spread the goodwill and compassion into all pervading space. Therefore, prayer flags are thought to bring benefit to all.

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Footsteps of the Buddha Tour 2019

The itinerary was quite similar to our tour last year. We shortened the tour by a couple of days and took Sravasti off because of the long bus ride to get to it. So we started the tour with the visit to Clement Town. Last year several members of the group found the long bus ride from N. Delhi to Clement Town difficult. This year we flew and that made the journey substantially easier.

One of the major aims of the Footsteps of the Buddha tours is to connect TCEF sponsors with their sponsored children and/or elders, and to share the Tibetan culture and hospitality with the hope that tour members may support our work. From that point of view, the visit to Clement Town is always an important part of the tour, an important part of the work that we do at TCEF.

Below is a full report on this tour:

Report for TCEF web

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2018 Science Lab Project

Science is one of the core subjects studied at the Tibetan Nehru Memorial Foundation School right from grade 1. However, due to financial constraints, the school has never had a Science Lab and the school administration again requested TCEF’s help. TCEF board member Jennifer Prugh visited the school, saw the need first hand and reached out to her circle of friends for help.

In April 2018, the school completed all the needed renovations, purchase of supplies and installation of equipment. The inauguration of the Science Lab was attended by TCEF Executive Director Karma Tensum along with other local dignitaries. Completion report of this project with images is available at the following pdf:

2018 Science Lab Project – Completion Report

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Teaching Aids for Sambhota School

The Sambhota Tibetan School in Miao in Arunachal Pradesh is located in a remote area. A request was received from the school for funds to procure teaching aids for its pre-primary section. TCEF was able to raise this modest amount primarily through the fundraising effort of sponsor Karen Cooper of Helena, MT

Project Completion Report submitted by Sambhota Tibetan Schools Society is available at the following link:

Teaching Aids for Sambhota School Pre Primary Class

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