Yaki Platt, graduate of LRZTP4, he trained as an apprentice interpreter at Chenrezig Institute, Australia, is sharing his inspiring story:
I did the 4th LRZTP, graduated in 2005 and have been working at Chenrezig Institute for the last 7.5 years, interpreting for Geshe Jamyang all along.
The study program at Chenrezig Institute is quite full on – ranging from beginner courses to the BP and the MP. The first few years were a real struggle to be able to cope with the level of study and I’m still challenged almost on a daily basis.
We’re currently studying the Madhyamaka component of the Master Program. It can be stressful at times but I love it nonetheless – I guess that second to debating this material, interpreting for it is one of the best ways to have a crack at it.
When I came to Chenrezig Institute, I thought that I’ll stay here for 2-3 years and then go back to India. But I found out is that living and interpreting at a Buddhist centre like CI offers a incomparable opportunity to study, so 7.5 years later – I’m still here.
Born in Israel, Hebrew is my native tongue, I now interpret mainly into English but I’ve been invited to Israel a few times in the last few years, where I interpreted into Hebrew. I did most of my Dharma studies in Tibetan and English so interpreting in Hebrew is more difficult than English – the first time was like learning a new language. Oddly enough – sometimes when I think of Dharma in Hebrew terms, it shades a new light and gives a different angle to some of the terms.
Some advice for the new LRZTP students: for me the key was to hang out with Tibetans off class and to drill what we recently studied. Use whatever time you have to hang out with Tibetans and drill their spoken Tibetan.
At some point, during the second year, I started to interpret for the daily classes on the Bodhisattvacharyavattara. It was great daily training, and I’d suggest looking for such opportunities when you are ready.
Rebeca Cuan, ( right, with H.H. the Dalaï Lama ) LRZTP5 youngest graduate shares her experience and advice :
During the first two years of the program, one needs to generate a strong determination to study. At the beginning of the course, when I was studying, most of my classmates had studied Tibetan before and I was a complete beginner. I felt that I had to study really hard to be able to get to the same level as them. During the first few months I had many difficulties learning, but once one gets used to the class and studies, everything goes better and one can improve more and more every day.
Interpretation is a very noble profession, but is challenging too and most of the time, one has to face different obstacles, but if one tries to do it with a good heart and effort you will have good results.
While you study, it is very important to listen well to the teachers, Gen Sherab and Gen Teresa are very good and qualified teachers, I would love to study again with them. They grant us the methods enabling us to become an interpreter in two years. Those two years of classroom studies are very short and passed by very fast, so one needs to really use it very well.
Now I’m studying the second part of the LRZTP5, I’m interpreting in two Dharma centers in Mexico for a very kind and wise Geshe. Actually, he is the first resident Geshe in Mexico and all this was possible through the kindness of our Tibetan teachers and Kyabje Lama Zopa Rinpoche.
Interpreting is a wonderful experience because it is an amazing opportunity to study Dharma teachings all the time and the most important is that you are able to serve others, giving Dharma. The best present one can give to others.
I’m very happy and feel very fortunate to have had the opportunity to study with both Gen-las and to serve Rinpoche in the Center. It is a great experience to discover how much we learn in those two years spent in the classroom in Dharamsala and how now I can be able to say directly into Spanish the words of the Lama and I feel very happy when I can notice that the teachings are very beneficial to others. Also doing this we have the opportunity to follow His Holiness Dalai Lama’s advices about study; we also can contribute to preserve Buddha’s teachings and Tibetan language.
For me, to join LRZTP7 was very special. While I had intentionally come to India to study Tibetan, I hadn’t actually planned on joining the program. I attended the teachings of His Holiness Dalai Lama in Dharamsala, found out about LRZTP7 and from there I was very fortunate to be accepted at the end of their 1st year.
At that time my level of Tibetan was very basic but the LRZTP teacher allowed me three weeks to study for the entrance exam. During those three weeks I devoted every hour possible to revising the content from the 1st year. I did not waste any time.
I began at the beginning of their 2nd year and found it quite difficult but I prioritized my learning. Every night I prepared for the next day. I even went to sleep listening to Tibetan dialogue! The first three months were quite exhausting and I did have moments where I felt discouraged but gradually I noticed that I was improving. I could understand more of what was taught and my colloquial was getting better. This is what inspired me to continue on.
My classmates and my teachers were quite patient with me. They gave me a lot of support when I had problems understanding the content. I found everyone to be very kind. My conversation partners were excellent. They really assisted me in my learning, especially in relation to the more difficult dharma terminology.
Now that I have graduated from LRZTP7, I find myself able to understand Tibetan dharma teachings. This has been of great personal benefit for me as a dharma practitioner. I also find that I have a good foundation from which to translate and assist the Sangha of Guatemala, and in general help my friends from Latin America.
For me, this has been the greatest reward of LRZTP7 and something for which I am very grateful for.
Lola Odessey Waters
Lola Odessey Waters, graduate of LRZTP8, shares her experiences:
I graduated from Lotsawa in March 2020, it was quite an intense few years…in a good way! I loved living in the mountains and mingling with the Tibetan community. Learning to live in India also taught me a lot as regards stepping out of my comfort zone, developing patience and learning to face uncertainty. I arrived at Lotsawa with a basic Tibetan foundation and throughout the two years built upon that. Everyday, a little bit. Not too much, just a little bit.
“A bit of Tibetan a day keeps the doctor away” was my motto. I enjoyed the course and my classmates were all very sweet. I liked the western friendly teaching style too. Making friends with local Tibetans was a very enriching experience, not only to improve my language skills but just as a human exchange. Learning Tibetan is not an easy process, it’s very humbling and one is constantly confronted with one’s limitations.
Studying Tibetan is one of the most meaningful and rewarding things I have ever done. After some time of study, I feel so fortunate to be able to understand my teachers directly, pose questions, have cups of teas with geshes and put my skill to use while translating teachings. Although I have technically graduated Lotsawa, the learning has not stopped, I don’t think it ever will and that’s quite exciting. I will never forget my time at Lotsawa and I hope that all future students can benefit from the school just like I did!