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2018 SMD Grads Reflect on their Year of Service

We are delighted to present you with stories from some of our 2018 SMD graduates who have been giving a year of service before continuing their education. These students have served at various sites - Tara Abbey, SMD Branch School and Nar Gompa. They all have expressed gratitude to Thrangu Rinpoche, SMD staff, and sponsors for making their life extraordinary.

Born in Manang in 2000, Karma Choying joined SMD in 2010. She still remembers when her uncle, Khenpo Tashi (who manages VVI) walked with her for the 7 days it took to arrive at SMD ~ an exciting adventure seeing the city for the first time. While attending SMD Karma Choying participated in Eco Club, Roots & Shoots, Leadership Class and Student Council. She also attended meditation and danced in the cultural programs held at the school. The SEE exam made her nervous but she was also excited about new experiences to come. Before volunteering, Karma Choying took some time to consider the choice and talked to previous SMD grads in the Senior Program. She came to the conclusion that after being at SMD for 10 years she would like to repay the staff and teachers. She has been teaching science, social studies, math, Nepali and English to the Grade 1nuns, helping senior nuns with English vocabulary and helping to organize creative activities, art, and crafts. Karma Choying has found that living at Tara Abbey, “Gives me a good vibe," and she feels inspired by the perspective that the nuns have toward the environment and living beings. Grateful for her opportunities, Karma Choying hopes to return to school and then to continue volunteering.

Phurbu Sangmo was born in Nubri in 2002, the oldest of 4 children. Her uncle, Lhakpa Dorje and cousin Nangsal helped her to join SMD in 2007. While she was excited to be able to go to school, it was a bit scary and surprising to come to Kathmandu, see a bus and so many different people for the first time. While at SMD Phurbu Sangmo participated in Eco Club, Roots & Shoots, was a school captain, play and class captains. She always took part in the cultural programs and was part of the Tibetan dance group. The SEE exam was the first time to give an exam outside SMD and was hard at first but she liked the freedom she felt when it was finished! It was Phurbu Sangmo’s family that encouraged her to volunteer and she has enjoyed teaching the Kindergarten class at Tara Abbey. She teaches science, math, Nepali and English and also helps the SMD nuns with homework and the older nuns with English. Phurbu says that life in the abbey is different ~ the nuns are kindhearted and caring and their thinking styles are different and they study more Dharma! She is thankful for the opportunity to be part of the abbey and hopes to study Hotel Management and someday open a hotel in her village.

Norbu Tsering was born in Sarnath, India in 2001 and was enrolled in SMD in 2007. While attending SMD Norbu joined Eco Club, played the snare drum in band, was prayer captain in grade 8 and hostel captain in grade 9. He played football and basketball and likes to play any sport. He also likes to sing and paced 5th in the SMD dance competition. He used to play guitar and would like to begin again and also learn the Tibetan guitar. At SMDBS Norbu has been teaching computer for grades 2 through 6 and Nepali for grade 4, helping with the school monthly news, sports day and somehow finding time to learn Chinese! He likes teaching and finds the students eager to understand and help each other. He also feels lucky to have a chance to study Dharma. Norbu Tsering has hopes of studying in the medical and computer fields to be able to help those suffering from all kinds of disease. Then he would like to return to VVI in Sarnath to be able to help out. He says that due to love and kindness he has support for this good life and with his education he will be able to stand on his own feet and have a better future. “I am glad to have sponsor support and happy to get a golden chance to study in Rinpoche’s school.”

Karma Palden was born in 1999 in Nar and in 2005 a nun relative brought him to SMD. Karma Palden likes to dance and sing, (especially Nepali and Tibetan dances and songs) and participated in many cultural programs at school. He also was a room captain in 5th and 6th grade, house captain in 7th, and a member of student council. Karma liked taking the SEE exam and found it to be fun! He says that previous SMD Seniors encouraged him to volunteer and he decided that he had already spent 13 years at SMD studying and eating without paying so it would be good to give at least a year of service! He has been teaching Science and Math for grades 2,3, 5 and 6 and Nepali for grade 2 along with physical training, games, basketball and football. At first, Karma Palden found living in the monastery to be very different and interaction with the monks a little difficult but soon it becomes easy. He is glad to be at Namo Buddha because it is a clean environment compared to Kathmandu and he is able to learn Dharma. Karma Palden would like to continue his studies in the HA (Health Assistant) program and work in a clinic or hospital. To Rinpoche and sponsors he says thank you and: “I am glad to be their son.”

Purbhu Tashi was born in Dolpo in 2000 and entered SMD in 2003. His mother worked at the school for a few years before returning home. While in school Phurbu participated in Eco Club, Roots and Shoots, played the bass drum and cymbals in the school band, and served 2 years on student council. He helped with earthquake relief efforts, distributing food and clothing in Dhading, Rasuwa, and Sindupalchowk as well as in the Kathmandu Valley. After finishing the SEE exam he went home to visit and his family encouraged him to volunteer. At SMDBS he teaches English to grades 2 through 6 and also trains others to be guides for visitors to the monastery. He says living at the monastery is very peaceful and the society is a bit different from SMD. He likes teaching and finds the students to be good and cooperative. They also make him learn by asking difficult questions! Phurbu hopes to study computer science, photography and graphic design and would like to say thank you to all the sponsors.

Santosh Dhimal is from Morang in Southeastern Nepal and his father is a driver for the monastery. Born in 2001, he entered SMD in 2008. An Eco Club member and hostel captain, Santosh is also a strong footballer. He was on the team for his Class 10 tournament against other schools in the Valley. (They won several of their games but not all, he says!) Santosh found the SEE exam good ~ not too hard, and afterward made the decision to volunteer because he had benefited so much from SMD that he “just wanted to help”. He is teaching Math and Nepali to grades 2 through 5, helping with playtime, and training guides for monastery visitors, and attending puja when he can. Santosh enjoys teaching, the questions the students ask and the friendliness he experiences. He says it is different to live with monks and enjoys the clean and peaceful environment ~ “going to Kathmandu now feels bad~ here we listen to birds and insect sounds at night!” To study Business Management is his dream. He thanks his sponsors with a view that being at SMD brought him “from a dark place to a place of light.”

Karma Dhondul was born in 2001 in Nar, and had a monk relative who helped bring him to SMD in 2005. While at SMD he played basketball and football, danced Nepali cultural dance, was a room captain and “TV in charge”. (Managing movie times for the students.) After completing the SEE exam, Karma Dhondul considered that SMD had given him a lot and the only way to utilize what he had learned was to share and help as a volunteer. Even though he had hoped to be assigned to a village that would be new to him, when he realized there was no one else to go to Nar he happily accepted. He has been teaching English, Math and Nepali to 7 students, all monks, between the ages of 10 and 15. They stay at the monastery where Lama

Khamsum is in charge except during the harsh winter months when they live at Namo Buddha. Karma Dhondul says his experience in Nar has been fun, exciting and challenging. It is very cold and sometimes there is a great deal of work repairing and managing the small monastery. At the same time it is fun, the scenery is beautiful, and there is the opportunity for exploring and visiting other villages. In the future Karma Dhondul hopes to engage in health studies. He feels that it was fun to teach and that he has gained a lot of experience. He is “glad, happy, and satisfied to help this little bit”.

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