Author Topic: Tibetan Orphanage Volunteer experience  (Read 581 times)

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Offline Che Gookin

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Tibetan Orphanage Volunteer experience
« on: June 09, 2009, 11:23:05 PM »
I'm an orphan myself and it didn't take much convincing for a friend of mine to get me to agree to help out with a one hour English class at a local Tibetan Orphanage. It was a pretty easy lesson on basic introductions as the kids and the monk who runs the Orphanage are beginners. It is probably one of the few English classes I've taught over the last five years that has been complete willing students.  Initially, I planned to teach the one lesson and leave it at that. However, like many other things in my life, this one lesson has turned into something more.

As a child I was very fortunate to have the support of my relatives after my parents did the right thing by dying. They kept me out of the social system, with the exception of a 3 month stint in foster care, and for that I'm eternally grateful. Because of my relatives I'm a college graduate, self-sufficient human being, and eternally blessed with having the opportunity to go where I please. The same can not be said for the kids I spent teaching yesterday.

The Chinese government is systematically attempting to obliterate Tibet's culture. In the specific case of this Orphanage the Chinese government does not provide funding. The Chinese government gives the orphans the option to reside in a Chinese government Orphanage at the expense of their culture. The Chinese Government Orphanages make no attempt at preserving the culture of the Tibetan orphans. If anything they discourage the speaking and writing of Tibetan and encourage all things Han (primary Chinese ethnic group). This policy affects the Tibetan orphans in the private Orphanage because they are not allowed to attend Chinese schools.

I'm not one hundred percent certain why they are not allowed to attend Chinese schools, but I do know the children in this Orphanage I volunteered at yesterday have not sat a single day in a classroom. They do receive educational courses from volunteers, but these classes are not accredited by the Chinese government. Therefore, they are not allowed to take the college entrance exam. This means not one of these orphans will spend a single day in a government University either. This profoundly disturbing policy really has struck a deep note in me.

Without my own education I would not have accomplished some of the things I'm proud of today. Without my college degree I wouldn't have made the break from working in programs. Without it I would not have had the chance to explore some of the distant corners of Asia. I would have never learned to Scuba dive or I would have never been crowned, "King Pukes A Lot" of the Hash House Harriers in Seoul Korea. Something so simple as a college degree has made a huge difference in my life and such a simple thing is blatantly denied a group of children who didn't choose their fates.

No one asked to be orphaned unless they take it on themselves to commit a double homicide. No one wants to feel totally abandoned and alone in the world. No one really feels the deep inner need to suffer the holiday depression of not having family around. I don't think any of these boys or girls has asked to be the victims of a cultural war that in the end will force them into low income jobs and a paycheck to paycheck existence.  I'd wager a bet that a large percentage of the girls in the Orphanage will probably end up in prostitution as well.  What child asks for this sort of thing?

Other than Niles, I can't think of any names that immediately [l]spring[/l] leap to mind. The part of the situation that amazes me the most is the Orphanage itself. This is not a nice place to look at, but the kids have painted it and made it their home. I was allowed to look in the girl's dorm and they have the best rooms in the building. The girls have decorated their rooms with pictures of pop stars and such. The boy's dorm looks like the Gengis Khan's army paid a visit for the weekend. It has all the signs of being lived in by a bunch of precocious young boys. Their communal hall has no furniture as I was told furniture gets in the way of their traditional Tibetan dances. I was offered the chance to learn some of their dance techniques but choose to watch instead due to my knees. I did try a few of their moves and decided that my calling was without a doubt not in the field of Tibetan dancing. Remarkably, despite their circumstances the children and adults seem genuinely cheerful.

Before class I spent some time teaching some of the younger boys how to play tic tac toe. They smiled and enjoyed the game and rapidly became good enough where they beat me twice out of ten or so games. The girls smiled frequently and seemed very eager to practice their English.The monk who runs the place, a happy old fellow named Fred, seems to be the center of the school and I don't think I saw him not smile. Even when he mispronounced several words and the rest of the class was laughing he just smiled and kept trying till he got the words right.  Even the boy who had kitchen duty that day was smiling when I dropped by the kitchen to chat with him, well more like me saying hello and him replying hi.  Their classrooms have no books, a couple maps, some beat up looking desks, and a few tired looking maps on the wall.

They have no text books, no computers, and other than a donated chalkboard and two maps, they have no other educational materials. They learn everything orally and they transcribe the material to notebooks that have been donated as well. Despite this lack of short comings they seem genuinely driven to learn and I feel genuinely privileged to be part of that process. It isn't often you get to meet a group of people like that and I'm seriously considering extending my contract so I can stay in this area to volunteer at the Orphanage more. On a scale of one being the worst and ten being the best I'd put yesterday down as a nine for days well spent.
« Last Edit: December 31, 1969, 07:00:00 PM by Guest »

Offline psy

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Re: Tibetan Orphanage Volunteer experience
« Reply #1 on: June 10, 2009, 12:32:23 AM »
Quote from: "Che Gookin"
The Chinese government is systematically attempting to obliterate Tibet's culture.
Them's fighting words.  LOL.  Hope you aren't still in China.
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Offline Che Gookin

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Re: Tibetan Orphanage Volunteer experience
« Reply #2 on: June 10, 2009, 01:00:01 AM »
errr.. learn to read?
« Last Edit: December 31, 1969, 07:00:00 PM by Guest »

Offline Antigen

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Re: Tibetan Orphanage Volunteer experience
« Reply #3 on: June 10, 2009, 02:28:50 AM »
Quote from: "Che Gookin"
The same can not be said for the kids I spent teaching yesterday.

:timeout:   ::unhappy::  
Che, look, old friend. I know things are different over there and teaching can sometimes be frustrating.  But you really have to moderate your discipline tactics some. Really!
« Last Edit: December 31, 1969, 07:00:00 PM by Guest »
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Offline Anonymous

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Re: Tibetan Orphanage Volunteer experience
« Reply #4 on: June 10, 2009, 11:45:14 PM »
A large percent of those girls will end up as prostitutes???

Really? You think?

Give them a few years and you'll probably be one of their best customers
« Last Edit: December 31, 1969, 07:00:00 PM by Guest »

Offline Che Gookin

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Re: Tibetan Orphanage Volunteer experience
« Reply #5 on: June 11, 2009, 12:40:34 AM »
Quote
Che, look, old friend. I know things are different over there and teaching can sometimes be frustrating. But you really have to moderate your discipline tactics some. Really!

The kids I volunteer to teach really do want to learn. If anything my approach is more to get them to guide their own educational experience. The kids I'm paid to teach might as well have their parents standing behind them with a gun.

It's a startling contrast, but don't get me wrong I enjoy teaching both groups. My discplinary approach in class these days is to scowl, glare, and stare and the trouble makers until they be quiet.

I mean what the hell.. it's not like they want to be there, so why go all jonny jihad on them?
« Last Edit: December 31, 1969, 07:00:00 PM by Guest »

Offline hurrikayne

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Re: Tibetan Orphanage Volunteer experience
« Reply #6 on: June 11, 2009, 10:17:27 AM »
Che, can you get me some more information on the Tibetan orphans?  Location, pictures of the orphanage, pictures of the kids maybe?  I'll talk to my Girl Scouts, maybe we can get together some school supplies and primary kids books, Cat in the Hat kind of stuff, pencils, notebooks, and ship out to you...
« Last Edit: December 31, 1969, 07:00:00 PM by Guest »
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Offline Antigen

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Re: Tibetan Orphanage Volunteer experience
« Reply #7 on: June 12, 2009, 04:29:03 PM »
Quote from: "Che Gookin"
Quote
Che, look, old friend. I know things are different over there and teaching can sometimes be frustrating. But you really have to moderate your discipline tactics some. Really!

I mean what the hell.. it's not like they want to be there, so why go all jonny jihad on them?

 ;D I was making fun of your typo. I think what you prolly meant to say was

Quote from: "Che"
The same can not be said for the kids I spent yesterday teaching.
« Last Edit: December 31, 1969, 07:00:00 PM by Guest »
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Offline Che Gookin

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Re: Tibetan Orphanage Volunteer experience
« Reply #8 on: June 13, 2009, 09:33:11 AM »
You got me on that one Ginger..

And I'll ask them if they are ok with me taking photos and posting them on the net. I think they get a lot of visitors coming through saying how sorry they feel for them and dropping off a few bucks to feel less guilty. I'll ask them quietly to judge the situation properly.
« Last Edit: December 31, 1969, 07:00:00 PM by Guest »

Offline Che Gookin

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Re: Tibetan Orphanage Volunteer experience
« Reply #9 on: June 18, 2009, 05:03:06 AM »
Today was definitely interesting...

It turns out the reason the majority of the kids can't go to a public school is because they don't have ID cards. They were not registered by their parents who abandoned them due to the Chinese 1 child law.

Luckily, the place has 2 teachers helping now as another gringo has volunteered to help with the English lessons. She has a great deal more experience than me in working with foundations and setting up charitable organizations so it ought to be interesting to watch and learn.

Hurri.. I'll post some pictures by next week. I keep forgetting to bring my digital camera with me when I go teach.
« Last Edit: December 31, 1969, 07:00:00 PM by Guest »