It has already been two months since LRZTP 9 started. On April 24th 2023 the LRZTP school inaugurated its first two-year intensive course in Dharamsala since the Covid-19 pandemic. With twelve new students the ninth program in the history of the school officially began.
As is always the case, some students already had some background in Tibetan language, with several being actually quite proficient already. Others began learning from scratch. A couple had also attended the online course and one participated in a short beginners’ course in 2019. Regardless of the level at the start of the program, all students have already made a huge progress in Tibetan language over these past two months. They participate in modern Tibetan language classes, have conversation lessons, classical (literary) Tibetan practice as well as cultural presentations.
This study program is quite demanding and the students can feel it especially in the beginning. In particular, the month of May was intense, as apart from regular classes, many guests visited the school and everybody participated in the FPMT Long Life Puja for His Holiness the Dalai Lama. The day after the puja all students joined the FPMT members for an audience with His Holiness in the residence in McLeodganj, receiving blessing and a surprise tea and snacks. This was truly an auspicious occasion, especially for the beginning of the program, an inspiration in studies.
In order to inspire the new students even more several guests visited the school in the month of May. Graduates of the program shared their experiences and gave guidance on how to study and live in Dharamsala. One particularly distinguished graduate was Ven. Kartsön (Yaki Platt), who until recently served as an interpreter at the Chenrezig Institute in Australia. He not only shared his experiences from the time when he was a student, but also talked about the ups and downs of the life of a Buddhist teachings’ interpreter.
Another inspirational guest was Isabelle Henrion-Dourcy, Tibetologist and anthropology professor who studied Tibetan opera in Tibet. Since, contrary to most students of Tibetan language she did not come to learning Tibetan through Buddhism, she could offer yet another perspective on studying the language. Her story was exceptional as she spent much of her time in eastern Tibet and could speak dialects of that area.
One more distinguished guest in May was Ven. Tashi Choedup, coordinator of FPMT India. Tashi was a student of LRZTP in the past but the general discussion between them and the students focused on the problem of translation in a gender neutral way. Tashi talked about how Dharma is (not) translated into modern Indian languages and how difficult it is to make Dharma language fair towards genders. The insensitivity of gender based expressions was a topic of a short debate which followed.
Currently the LRZTP 9 students are already able to express themselves in all three tenses (past, present and future) and can hold conversations about Tibet, their families and countries, weather, food and school. Before the first module ends in mid-July they will also acquire the ability to count in Tibetan, do shopping in Tibetan and make polite requests. They are getting ready for their first attempts in making short translations of scriptures.
And, as we always want to stress, LRZTP is by no means closed to new students just because the ninth program has already begun. In fact, we are happy to announce that in August the current batch will be joined by two new people – from Poland and Sweden. Since they will not be joining the program from the start, they will need to pass an entry exam, which will be the first module final exam. However, since both of them studied before and already attended private classes at LRZTP, this should be a piece of cake for them.