St Paul, October 31, 2009: Today the school and the subjects taught were quite different at the Tibetan Cultural School in Minnesota. It was not a Halloween surprise, rather the 140 children aged between 5 yrs to 15 yrs were asked to send a message to the US President Mr. Barack Obama, before his first presidential visit to China.
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Tibetan Cultural School in Minnesota was established in 1997 to keep the Tibetan heritage alive in Minnesota. Children here learn to read and write the Tibetan language and are also given lessons in Tibetan history and culture along with traditional dance and music lessons. Classes are held every Saturday and Sunday.
This morning, after the prayers and assembly, Mr. Wangyal T. Ritzekura, head of the Tibetan Language School, explained the importance and relevance of writing this letter and said that, “The President will appreciate and acknowledge your messages.”
Members of the Regional Tibetan Youth Congress of Minnesota and the language teachers spoke to the children and gave them basic instructions. The children were provided with writing papers, crayons and some time to move their imagination around.
Over 80 letters were written and almost a 100 colorful drawings expressing their thoughts on the Tibet issue with messages and request to President Obama were drawn.
The President of RTYC Minnesota, Jigme Ugen, who spent the morning talking and listening to these children said, “Hopefully President Obama has the opportunity to see these heartrending letters and artworks by these children; each filled with personal grief and emotional appeals. It will positively help the President have bold conversations and make concrete actions to end China’s violent occupation of Tibet“.
RTYC-MN hopes to distribute compiled copies of all these letters and drawings to the community. Here are excerpts from two letters:
Passang Tsering, a 14 year old boy wrote, “It has been 50 years. 50 years of torture, murders, and protest in Tibet. After all this still nothing has changed. His Holiness the 14th Dalai Lama has traveled around the globe giving speeches, giving wisdom and knowledge to the world to inform them about what is happening in Tibet. As our search for freedom is getting closer everyday, we hope that one day we would no longer need to search and that Tibet can be its own country. We Tibetans would be very grateful if you, President Barack Obama will talk to the Chinese government and hopefully negotiate with them”
Tenzin Sonam, a 11 year boy wrote: “I want to say that everyday people are dying in Tibet fighting for human rights. It really upsets me. It’s been fifty years since we lost our country. Please can you add this at the meeting with the Chinese President. I trust you, that you will do the right thing. I understand that this will be a hard thing to do, but please understand. Peace is what we are fighting for and there can be peace only when human rights are respected.”