Acharya Kalsang Norbu Gurung

I spent my early childhood receiving training at a Tibetan monastery and later at Central Institute of Higher Tibetan Studies in Varanasi, India. I have learned almost all the subjects taught in Tibetan schools and monasteries, such as Tibetan grammar, art of poetry, history, religion, philosophy, debate, ritual and astrology during all those years. Although I completed my Acharya degree (M.A.) at the Institute of Higher Tibetan Studies in 1999, my quest for learning did not end there. In 2001, I got a scholarship to study at the University of Leiden in the Netherlands, which was also my first entry into the western academic studies. Since I came to the Netherlands, I have been working and studying at the University of Leiden. This has been a wonderful opportunity for me to learn many new things. As a result of this, I am currently finishing my doctorate dissertation to obtain my PhD in Leiden University. In all these years, I have always considered to share my knowledge and experience with other Tibetan fellows.

In August 2007 I saw many inspiring paintings exhibited on the wall of the Tibet Foundation in London. The most clear and easy things to remember were the signatures at the bottom of each painting: a unique and stylistic art by itself. I did not have to ask the name of the artist, because the signature was of Tashi Norbu. I knew nothing about him, but his name was imprinted in my head. Not long after that, we met and became friends. We happened to meet several months later unexpectedly again, when Tashi informed me about his newly established “Tibet Art Movement” and invited me to join his group. I was impressed by his fresh idea to preserve the Tibetan culture and tradition in this foreign land. Even if I am not an artist, thanks to my education and training in Tibetan studies, I was able to contribute to Tibet Art Movement by teaching Tibetan language, literature and culture. I also felt it was the right moment to launch my idea of a Tibetan school in the Netherlands. Since I am trained as a Tibetan teacher, I decided to teach Tibetan language courses at Tibet Art Movement. In my opinion, teaching is actually a part of learning: I learn more sharing my knowledge with others. In January 2008, I joined “Tibet Art Movement” and began teaching Tibetan with a warm support from Tashi, Paul Hilkens and Simonetta Ronconi. We have also started working for a project “Tibetan for Tibetans”, and we hope to implement it within few months.

Why “Tibetan for Tibetans”?:

Since the migration of Tibetans to the Netherlands, young generations have either been arriving from Tibet or were born in this land, increasing in the last years. It is very positive to acknowledge that our people are integrating well in the Dutch society, and enjoying its freedom and peace. They have full opportunity to learn western culture, custom, language and whatever they find interesting. But, they have no decent opportunity yet to learn their own language, culture and customs and receive spiritual teachings, which are an essential heritage from their parents and grand parents. I believe that we can help our people by providing a decent opportunity to learn the Tibetan language, which is the most important requirement to understand the meaning of Tibetan culture, customs and Tibetan Buddhism, worldwide popular by now. As a Tibetan friend living in the Netherlands, I am therefore planning to offer regular Tibetan language courses for young Tibetans. I hope this opportunity will facilitate the preservation of our unique culture and tradition, even in this foreign country.

 

Tibet Art Movement

Simonetta Ronconi

Acharya Kalsang Norbu Gurung
Tibetan Language Courses Teacher
at Tibet Art Movement Foundation

www.iias.nl
www.hum.leidenuniv.nl