Colloquial Tibetan Summer Program

Living with a Tibetan Family

One of my main goals coming to Nepal was to learn Tibetan, both classical and modern colloquial Tibetan. 
Given my experience learning Japanese starting as an exchange student in high school (a very long time ago…) I knew it was important to live with a host family again. 

I started with the summer 2009 intensive course in beginning colloquial Tibetan. This two month course covers an entire year of Tibetan language. It was a real challenge, but living with a host family gave me extra opportunity to practice. 
It was mostly just me and my host brother, Kunga (my host mother went to Tibet for five weeks), but I’m certain I wouldn’t have learned so much in such a short time with out a native speaker to talk with every evening.

I then moved in with Drolkar and her son Tenzin for the 2009 – 2010 academic year. Drolkar is from Lhasa and has been a language partner with the institute for several years, so she was a great help throughout my stay with them. Her son Tenzin is a thangka painter. We spent many evenings after dinner trading stories about the West and life in Tibet and in Nepal. The fun really began when my Tibetan progressed to the point where Drolkar and I could trade childhood stories. On more than one occasion, we’ve laughed our heads off telling such stories. Of the six other host families with which I’ve stayed over the years, this has been the best experience yet. Also, given that English is so ubiquitous here in Nepal, in order to really learn Tibetan, it’s extremely important to live with a host family in my opinion.

I’m heading back to the States soon, but I’m looking forward to many visits to the institute and to my host family in the future.

~Rinchen Gyatso, USA

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