Name: Lama Wangchuk Gyaltsen
Interview Age: 61
Date of Birth: 1953
Birthplace: Gyangkar, Utsang, Tibet
Year Left Tibet: 1959
Political Prisoner: No
Interview No.: 23C
Location: Santa Fe, New Mexico, United States
Categories: Culture and History
Keywords: childhood memories, education, escape experiences, Chinese -- first appearance of, refugee in Nepal -- life as, Utsang
Lama Wangchuk Gyaltsen was born in Gyangkar in Utsang. As the only boy in the family, he teased his five sisters and was spoiled by his parents. He describes his large home and beautiful village with snow-covered mountains and lakes and a large nunnery nearby. His family farmed and reared animals and his father also engaged in trading. Lama Wangchuk Gyaltsen talks about the school system in Tibet and shares his experience of attending classes with a local tutor.
Lama Wangchuk Gyaltsen remembers being very ill at the age of 5. He also recalls a prophecy by a learned lama that was given to his parents and the consequences of not fulfilling the prediction. He then recounts the appearance of Chinese in his village and being forced to learn Chinese songs with other village children at nightly meetings. His parents made a sudden decision to escape after a friend informed them that they would be arrested the next day.
Lama Wangchuk Gyaltsen describes their preparations to leave and the harsh journey over the mountains. He felt sad witnessing his family reduced to laborers in Nepal. When a Tibetan school opened in Darjeeling, India his parents enrolled him. His good education allowed him to serve the Tibetan government-in-exile in Dharamsala before migrating to the United States.
- Marcella Adamski (Interviewer)
- Tomas Haywood (Videographer)