Dharamshala: Tibet TV conducted an exclusive interview with Education Kalon and North America Representative designate Ngodup Tsering at his office earlier this morning. Below is the full transcript of the interview.
Tibet TV: News reports of your North America visit have surfaced yesterday evening. Is this visit in your role as Education Kalon or as North America Representative-designate and what is the purpose of the visit?
Kalon Ngodup Tsering: First of all, I would like to extend my warm greetings to all the viewers. I am leaving this evening to Delhi and then to Canada and the USA. The main purpose of my visit is in regard to Education and this visit was planned long back.
Two years back, the Canadian government has released a grant of 2 million dollars for Tibetan education to be used over a two-year period. The two-year period has ended this June. So, this visit is partly related to sustain the support and procure additional funds for Tibetan education. In that regard, Chief resilience Officer Kaydor Aukartsang and I have also visited dignitaries and officials of the ministerial office and our supporters earlier in March this year.
I will also be meeting Tibetans in Toronto during the visit. While in Ottawa, I will meet Canadian dignitaries and officials. President Dr Lobsang Sangay will also be joining the meetings.
Regarding the visit to the US, it was also something that has been planned for a while. President Dr Lobsang Sangay has visited almost all the Tibetan communities in the US. However, there are still a few places such as the Tibetan community in Chicago, Madison and Minnesota where he hasn’t been able to visit. While I am there, I am also visiting several Tibetan weekend schools in the area to gauge their progress and ascertain how the department of education can assist further in these programmes.
So, the NA visit is primarily related to my role as Kalon of the Education Department, and has been planned long back. However, due to my recent appointment as representative of North America, there has been a slight change in the programme. I will continue on my visit as scheduled till Minnesota and from there, I will come back to Washington DC for the handover ceremony on 27 November.
TTV: 2. When will you take over as North America representative and who will fill in as the witness?
KNT: As per the letter from Kashag, I was directed to take charge on 27 November and Representative Tsewang Phuntso from OOT Brasil has been appointed as the official witness.
However, due to some prior engagements of Representative Tsewang Phuntso, he wouldn’t be able to arrive on 27 November. Therefore, the handover ceremony will take place on 28 November. However, as stated in Kashag’s appointment letter, I will officially take charge as the Representative of North America from 1 December.
TTV: 3. Will you come back to Dharamshala after your NA trip?
KNT: I will come back briefly to Dharamshala after my North America visit. Normally, it is considered against procedure to leave your responsibilities while on official tours. Moreover, as President Dr Lobsang Sangay is currently on an official visit abroad, the Kashag has instructed me to come back briefly after the visit.
TTV: 4. As the outgoing Education Kalon, what are the arrangements for continuation of the vital undertakings at Education department?
KNT: Education is prioritized as one of the most important focus of the Kashag. With that focus, I have served wholeheartedly as the Secretary and then as Kalon of the Department to advance Tibetan education. The Tibetan parliament has also commended the efforts of the education department. So, I feel honoured to have got the opportunity to serve in the department.
Having said that, one of the most important works of the education department that is still pending is the transfer of 14 CTSA schools. So, we need to follow up on that. In fact, as discussed with Indian authorities, the transfer should be finalized by March 2018. President Dr Lobsang Sangay is someone who has been part of the CTSA school transfer project from the beginning. There are also numerous competent officials who have immense understanding and knowledge of the process who will continue to oversee the project. Although, the portfolio of Kalon is important, it is the staff who actually execute the project. So there is no need to worry as I am sure the project in particular and the activities of the department in general will go on seamlessly.
Regarding the post of Education Kalon, it is the discretion of President Dr Lobsang Sangay to appoint or not. Till that time, I guess someone from Kashag will take additional responsibility of the department. Chorig Kalon for instance has a vast experience and knowledge of the department. I am sure the department’s activities will go on smoothly.
TTV: 5. Can you throw some light on yesterday’s audience with His Holiness the Dalai Lama? What was the key advice from His Holiness?
KNT: To receive an audience with His Holiness the Dalai Lama is always a blessing. It has been almost 6 years in Dharamshala and 4 years as Sherig Kalon till now. Whenever His Holiness returns from a visit, we get an opportunity to welcome him at his official residence. I have always cherished that moment and thought of it as a special privilege.
When I received an audience yesterday, I felt very fortunate and blessed. During the audience, His Holiness the Dalai Lama advised me to work towards creating a deeper understanding of Tibetan culture and religion among Tibetan youth by emphasizing on Tibetan language. That was the crux of His Holiness’ advise.