HUNGKAR DORJE REGIONAL MULTI-DISCIPLINARY TECHNICAL SCHOOL

PROJECT DESCRIPTION

QGF has been officially granted a permit to operate a multi-disciplinary technical school on 18 acres of donated land.

Located in a pastoral setting of grassy hinterland, surrounded by mountain vistas, the site is conveniently located to maximize contacts with the large population of ethnic nomads. It forms a natural connection with the nomadic farmers. Officially named “The Hungkar Dorje Technical School” in honor of its founder, its mission is to further the cultural heritage of indigenous ethnic groups and promote learning and mastery of modern technical skills. Our aim is to promote healthy economic and cultural growth in Tibetan society and to build a private educational facility complete with up to date teaching equipment and capabilities, in accordance with the “Educational Law of the People’s Republic of China.” Our goal is to preserve and protect traditions and culture which would otherwise be lost.



2013 MAYUL SCHOOL (Hungkar Dorje School):
PROGRESS AND ACCOMPLISHMENTS

Between 40 and 60% of Tibetan children do not attend school and in the Tibet Autonomous Region, less than 25% of Tibetan children graduate to secondary schools.

With our first two graduating classes behind us, the attendance at the HKD Multi-Disciplinary Technical School (the Mayul School) has increased from 180 students in 2011 to over 300 at present.

The school has expanded its program in Tibetan Medicine which is taught by two well trained traditional doctors. With a new Canadian ESL teacher for English classes and courses in Tibetan, Mandarin, science, and math, the Mayul School has gained popularity and fame throughout much of the Tibetan Plateau, drawing students from as far away as Szechuan Province and Lhasa.

Our Thanka painting classes are being taught by master artistes trained at Rebkong Monastery. We are introducing a traditional art form by offering a newly developed carpet weaving program taught by 2 master weavers. Student enthusiasm is at a high point.

The Hungkar Dorje School will keep costs down to about $80.00 per month for each student in the 3 year program. This includes all costs for boarding, food, health care, educational materials, and teacher’s salaries. 

Funds for the school’s operations will come from private donations, a modest tuition, and the sale of handicrafts by artisans affiliated with the school.  For families who cannot share in the cost of education there will be no fee. Additionally, much of these costs will be augmented by the ongoing sale of medicinal and culinary herbs as well as by other businesses which are planned for development.


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THANK YOU! Without your help most of these young adults would go without an education and would face a life of little or no opportunities to advance vocationally. For those that aspire to go on to a higher education – there would be little hope. Your Donations Will Help maintain:
  • A 10-classroom Vocational High School with 15 teachers
  • Dorm rooms for 600 girls and boys ages 14 to 21
  • Office, library, kitchen, cafeteria, medical services clinic, and space for physical activities
  • Textbooks and computers for teaching
  • Teacher Salaries
  • The purchase of trilingual language labs and new programs and equipment for carpet weaving.
  • Costs to house, feed, and care for students


PHOTO GALLERY OF MORE SCHOOLS PROJECTS

Notes from the Field: MAYUL SCHOOL UPDATE
from Ava Fruin, English Second Language Instructor


The Beginning
Having just returned from an incredible three months teaching at the Mayul school, my heart is full of love and inspiration for this incredible institution, its students, and those who work tirelessly to keep it alive. I met Hungkar Dorje Rinpoche at a teaching event in San Jose, California, where he invited me to come and teach English at the Mayul School during the summer of 2011. Despite previous teaching and travel experience I had little idea of what these three months would hold for me, as a result my time there exceeded anything I could have imagined or dreamed of.

Arrival In Golok
I arrived in Gande County in June of 2011, only a couple of days before the new school session was scheduled to begin. Over those first few days I watched students trickle into the village, returning from summer vacation spent in the countryside with their families. The students seemed joyful and excited about returning to school; seeing their smiling faces inspired me every day to match their motivation and excitement in the classroom.

Classroom and Community
Following an opening assembly of students and teachers I moved into my room at the school, establishing my place in a community that, over time, would begin to feel more like a family than an educational institution. Classes began immediately, and I took on a schedule of ten classes a week taught to three different levels of students. It seemed that both teacher and students were nervous on the first day; I was anxious to see how my teachings would be received in a Tibetan classroom while my students seemed unsure of what to expect with a young American woman as their teacher. As soon as classes began, however, lessons felt natural and comfortable. I quickly found that the vast majority of my students were interested in learning and succeeding in the English language, and students responded with open hearts and minds to a new and different experience in the language classroom.

Going into this experience my primary goal was to develop student’s comfort level with the English language, ultimately mastering elementary conversation skills that they could use in the real world with other English speakers. In working toward this goal I created lesson plans that focused on basic and relevant topics that the students could relate to on a personal level and that included practice in speaking, listening, reading, and writing skills. My hope was to give the students tools with which to express themselves, and to open their minds to the many opportunities and doors which are opened with the acquisition of a new language.

A Rural Tibetan Introduction to English Language – clearing a path to greater economic self sufficiency and cultural integrity

Over the course of two and a half months we covered multiple subjects, from basic conversational introductions to grammar and vocabulary related to food, family, and daily schedules. The students responded most strongly to lessons which gave them language with which to express themselves. For example, they absolutely lit up during a lesson on the use of the verb “to be.” Every students loved learning how to say “I am happy,” or “I am tired,” or even “I am sick,” because for the first time they were able to express these feelings to me and be understood. I loved that personal side of the classroom experience, the students were learning to communicate and I was a real-life guinea pig for them to practice on. I became close with the students during this time, and it was so special to watch them blossom and gain confidence in expressing themselves using brand new language.

Students were tested in the first week of classes, periodically over the course of the session, and in a cumulative final examination. These tests allowed me to gauge student’s prior knowledge and exposure to the language, progress over time, and, most importantly, overall performance and improvement over the 2.5 month period. Some students struggled with very basic reading and writing skills, while others were a bit more advanced. However, by the time the session ended all students had one thing in common and that was vast improvement. On the final exam the majority of students were able to read and understand questions covering previous course material and respond with full sentence answers. This demonstrated a vast improvement that made me proud and spoke volumes to the hard work and dedication of these amazing students.

From The Heart

I’d also like to speak to the tireless hard work of the teachers at the Mayul School. I was only there for a few months, and despite the richness of the experience it is not an easy place to live and teach; these other teachers do it year in and year out, demonstrating an incredible dedication to their students and the belief in the great importance of education. These teachers deserve a huge amount of recognition and support for their never-ending compassion, effort, and ongoing commitment to the school and its students. They were a true inspiration that I will never forget; I can only hope that I can be as strong and effective in the classroom and in life as these individuals are.

Following final exams during my last week in Tibet we hosted a graduation ceremony for the Mayul School’s very first graduating class. During this week teachers, students, friends and family came together to celebrate the huge accomplishment of these students, a group that I had the pleasure of teaching. Formal schooling in this setting is not a traditional part of Tibetan culture, so this school and its students are truly paving the way for the development of education in this region, especially for those who have previously not had access to it. Watching these students being awarded diplomas in recognition of their monumental accomplishment as their friends, family, teachers and peers cheered them on was a truly magical moment.

Saying goodbye the day I left the Mayul School was sad; despite the language barrier I formed many incredible and meaningful relationships during my time teaching, so it was hard to leave not knowing when I would return and see these people again. However, of the many gifts of this experience my wonderful memories and an inspired, open heart are the ones for which I will be forever grateful. I hold the students and teachers of the Mayul School in the highest regard in my mind and in my heart and can only hope to return soon to continue supporting the school, its English program, and my new friends.



THE IMPORTANCE OF A THREE LANGUAGE APPROACH

Tibetan Language

In Qinghai Province, Tibetan has traditionally been the language used for education in schools. The new policy mandates Mandarin as the medium of instruction by 2015. The Mayul School is one of the few that has permission to continue teaching in the "Mother Tongue", which we consider an essential step in maintaining cultural integrity.

Mayul’s Tibetan Language classes provide an opportunity for children who can speak Tibetan but are often illiterate, to gain proficiency in their own language. Having the ability to teach children in Nomadic Communities helps ensure that cultural assimilation does not take place and that the true history of Tibet is taught alongside more traditional subjects. David Germano, Professor of Tibetan and Buddhist Studies at the University of Virginia, says: “[Studies] have shown consistently that Tibetans who train and test in Chinese medium contexts persistently perform worse than when they are able to train and test in Tibetan. By using their own mother tongue for training, education, and testing, they perform markedly better on standard intelligence and other tests than they do when they are forced to use Chinese.”

The purpose of education is for teachers and students to convey and receive knowledge by the most easily understood means between teachers and students. As far as the Tibetan students in our province are concerned, they are not familiar with Chinese and so they are not able to think about or express their ideas in Chinese, not to mention being able to use Chinese to creatively analyze problems. However, in daily life the Tibetan mother tongue is the most familiar tool for analyzing problems and expressing ideas, and therefore it should be the most effective tool for study in their lives at school.

Mandarin

In 2010, Quang Wei, the Qinghai Provincial Secretary, stated that "the promotion of the common speech (Mandarin) is important from an economic point of view". In order to advance within the system of higher education and later within the business community or government, knowledge of Mandarin is a requirement. Tibetan students are strongly motivated to learn Mandarin to increase prospects for getting good jobs, educational opportunities and so on. Consequently, at a minimum, a bilingual education rooted in minority language and more culturally relevant education seems the best option. Tibetan students have studied Chinese for 10 or more years – but they are still unable to communicate in Chinese. In many Western countries, there has been much research into methods and materials for teaching English as a second language which have lead to positive outcomes in teaching English in non-English speaking countries. In order to thoroughly change this situation, the Mayul School intends to renew its understanding of how it can effectively teach Chinese to Tibetan students.

English

Most of the older people in Qinghai Province have never been to school. Because they did not need formal education in their lives many parents think that education is not so important for their children. As a result many students are suffering from low levels of education. This puts the children of this generation at a great disadvantage in their lives. Currently, students must pass the exam from the PRC government to find a government job. This exam is in Chinese and English. Tibetan students must learn two foreign languages very well (English and Chinese) in order to pass this exam otherwise there is little possibility of them getting a job. The level of English proficiency in Golok is very low, especially among the students from Tibetan schools. They are not taught English until they enter high school. This is the one of main reasons why many young Tibetan students do not pass this exam.  Learning English is one of the few ways that Tibetan people can compete for available jobs.

Language Laboratories

The Mayul School places great emphasis on its ESL program and intends to expand the number of teachers and classes over the course of time. One of the Blue Valley Foundations immediate projects is to purchase the best multilingual language labs and to raise funds to pay for 30 “made in China” language labs with software capable of teaching Tibetan, Mandarin, and English.  We are currently seeking experienced ESL volunteers to augment this program.


A REPORT FROM THE FIELD

My name is Duc Luong. From August to September of 2009, I took a trip to Golog to visit Thubten Chokor Ling. It was during this period that I spent a fair amount of time preparing computers and laptops for deployment to the Hungkar Dorje Technical School. The idea was to bring up-to-date computing technology to this remote part of Tibet so that students could learn new skills and develop a greater appreciation and understanding of our modern world. As the information age pushes forward, I feel it is important not to leave the Tibetans behind in the dust.

It was during this time that I taught a select group of university candidates, which consisted of monks, yogis and lay people, some basic English and western culture and etiquette. I figured if they had pre-exposure to American culture, that it would make life simpler once they do go abroad to study in The States. (Less culture shock and confusion is always a good thing, in my opinion.) Apart from the lessons we had on spelling, grammar, pronounciation and the like, the students also listened to English music and watched American films and tv shows and were always required to write reports and summaries about them afterward. Equal emphasis was placed on reading, wrting, comprehension and verbal communication. Written and oral examinations were fairly common. Despite having such a heavy work load, and especially given the time constraints, I felt we all achieved more than what we set out to do originally. In this regard, I am more than satisfied at what the students accomplished during my time there.

Concurrently, I also took part in beginning a documentary type multimedia project that would, on a yearly basis, record and document the impact and changes affecting the people, culture and local communities surrounding Longen Monastery due to the inception of the vocational school. This was especially interesting because we had the unique opportunity of starting the project right around the time when the school just opened up and began. Because the Tibetans in this area of Golog have never had such an institution and are now taking this big a step forward in terms of education, it will be quite intriguing to see the long term results of this study.

During those two months that I spent in that part of Golog, I really got to know the students and learned a lot about their way of life and culture. I met many of their friends and families and felt like I was always welcome there. Needless to say, this has marked a very enjoyable and memorable milestone in my life, one which I will not soon forget.

Many thanks go to the Long Hoa Buddhist Temple, the Project for Ethics and Art in Testimony, the Blue Valley Foundation, the Blazing Wisdom Institute and the many other individuals and organizations that helped and contributed to the successful completion of this endeavor. Without you guys, these projects would not have been possible. I hope to be able to continue doing this kind of work in the future and to always make a difference for the people of Tibet. ~ Duc



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