My thoughts and activities in Dharamsala

Sunday, October 02, 2005

A glimpse of H.H. the Dalai Lama.

Last Monday was my very first day of teaching a Beginners English class. There are six classes total, Beginners 1 and 2, Intermediate, Advance, and Conversation Class with all the beginners in one and intermediate/ advance in the other. I have the beginners 1 class. That day was totally wretched, I had a cold and I was nervous. As I was teaching the class there was sweat running down my armpits. Through most of the class I was counting the minutes for it to be over. Jigme the director gave some encouraging words. But on Tuesday he almost gave me the axe. I was lucky that a Australian woman with teaching experience was willing to co-teach the class with me. On Wednesday, we thought them feelings with me acting out a particular emotion and the students guessing what I was doing. It was really funny for the must part, for I was as goofy as I could be. So that day the lessons were awesome. Thursday the whole school had their Midterm exam, but it was the same exam for all the levels, so my class was in a state of panic. It took them two hours to take the exam. My students are mostly my age and above with about 5 or 6 monks and a nun, a mom and some fathers. So with the lessons, it is interesting teaching them elementary English using pictures and writing sentences on the board and then have them saying the sentences as I point to each and every word. During the exam some of the monks, particularly one named Ata will come up to me each and everytime he finished a question to ask me if it was right. I stuck to my, "I don't know" or " I will not give you the answer". Ata was pretty persistent. Me and Anne the Scottish/ English women marked the exams and the scores were all over the place. Some students in the advance class got horrible scores, while other students in the beginner and intermediate class did great. So we had to shift some students to their correct places. What happens a lot is that some students will go to whatever class they want. Like I have a lady, Kelsang Tso, she needs to be in the beginner 2 class, but she has been coming to my class and she is a pretty aggressive one. I gave her the boot from my class, but she was trying to talk me into thinking that she was in the right class. Her exam scores reflect that she needs to be in a higher class than mine. So this happens quite a lot. Friday on my way to work I noticed a huge crowd of people by the Tsuklhakhang (the main temple). As I reached the crowd I saw one of my students and I asked him what was going on. His Holiness the Dalai Lama was due to arrive soon. Everywhere I looked, I saw people waiting, burning incense, or with Katak's (white silk Tibetan offering scarfs). I decided to continued my downward descent towards Tibet Charity. I saw many of the students standing outside opposite the Tibet Charity building. I thought to check the classroom just in case anyone was in there. Of course ZERO. So I went back outside and waited with the rest of the students. Obviously this was a special moment. Sarah the aussie lady that is teaching with me was right behind me. People were burning pile of some aromatic shrub of some kind so you could smell it everywhere. All of a sudden a bell started to ring from up the hill. A Tibetan man with a walkie talkie had us get out of the road. Then two trucks packed with Indian Army soldiers passed by and behind them sitting in the shotgun seat (which is opposite from the shotgun seat in the US) of a biege sudan was His Holiness Dalai Lama. I saw him as clear as day, smiling and waving his hand. All the Tibetans had their heads bowed and the bowing rolled up the hill like a wave at a sports events. It all happens so fast. What surprised me was that I was really ecstatic just after seeing him for a few seconds. It probably was just starstruckness, for seeing the leader of the Tibetan people and someone that I highly admire. I definitely was not excited to see him before I saw him, but afterwards there was a tangible change in my mood. Directly afterwards we all went to class and practiced saying, " I am happy because I saw His Holiness the Dalai Lama today". The class totally loved it.


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