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/ A W A R E N E S S M A G A Z I N E
J A N U A R Y / F E B R U A R Y 2 0 1 1
10 / A W A R E N E S S M A G A Z I N E
J A N U A R Y / F E B R U A R Y 2 0 1 1
S
o many of us in the
Mind, Body, Spirit com-
munity want to "save
the world." Deanna
Campbell is one wom-
an who is actually doing it. After
a chance meeting with Khenpo
Tashi Kailash, Tibetan Buddhist
monk, during a meditation sem-
inar, Deanna was shocked to
learn that the region where he
came from had been without
a school for two generations.
With a degree in education and
having served on various school
boards, the retired executive
thought there must be some-
thing she could do.
About a year after meeting
Khenpo, and at his suggestion,
Deanna hired a 4x4 and bound-
ed off to "do the Mount Kailash
Kora," which involved circum-
ambulating Mt. Kailash in the
Himalayan Mountains. The Kai-
lash Kora is considered to be
the highest spiritual pilgrimage
for both Hindus and Buddhists.
After traversing 18,000 foot
passes during her spectacular
experience, she crossed over
the Tibetan border and made her
way to one of the most remote
villages in Nepal. There were no
roads, no phones and no elec-
tricity, outside a recent appear-
ance of some hydro-electricity
and solar electricity.
Deanna refers to the villag-
ers as "the forgotten Tibetans"
because the Chinese consider
them Nepalese and will have
nothing to do with them, while
the Nepalese will have nothing
to do with them because they
live so remotely. Compelled
to make a difference, Deanna
founded an organization, and
within the last five years, the
"Antahkarana Society" has cre-
ated three schools, educating
children, teaching the village
women to read, and more.
Randy Peyser: What hap-
pened when you first met the
villagers?
deanna Campbell: When I
first spoke with the villagers,
they wanted a school. They had
very grand ideas. Basically, they
wanted a replica of the schools
in Dharamsala and other places
in India they had heard about.
This was totally impractical be-
cause it is not possible to get
the same kinds of building ma-
terials needed to create a big
school, and there were no teach-
ers who wanted to go there,
much less administrators.
I came back the following
year and told them for now, the
best thing would be to take chil-
dren into the Tibetan schools
established in Nepal by the Da-
lai Lama's Department of Edu-
cation. They would get a good
Tibetan education and be able to
go to college if they so desired.
Each village was divided into
wards. We took three children
from each ward in each of the
three villages. It turned out to
be about 28 children. We en-
rolled them in Namgyal School
in Kathmandu.
That year, I made a documen-
tary film. The next year, we went
back to the village to get more
footage, but we got snowed out.
When the villagers heard I was
coming they thought I was com-
ing to get more children to take
to school in Kathmandu. While
we were snowed out from the
direction of Kathmandu, several
children crossed the border of
China into India and back into
Nepal to come to Kathmandu; it
took them 30 days of walking!
When I arrived back in Kath-
mandu, there were fourteen
more kids who had come to
join our program. We managed
to quickly rebuild our hostel to
make it big enough to accom-
modate these kids.
One of the most marvelous
things about the whole experi-
ence was that these kids came
from villages that didn't have
schooling for two generations.
Their parents were illiterate. We
worked with them in our hostel
in Kathmandu for six months.
We were able to bring them
up in Tibetan, English and Nep-
alese to meet entrance require-
ments into a very academically-
challenging school. After only
six months of study, one-third
of our children were performing
at the top of their class. It is an
astonishing demonstration of the
will to learn.
Randy: how did you teach
them?
deanna: We used fairly inno-
vative techniques involving some
Montessori and a lot of close at-
tention. The following year, the
Dalai Lama made a decision that
the children in these schools
should be 12 years old in order
to be accepted into the dormi-
tories. Taking kids when they're
seven years old from their vil-
lages was very trying for the kids
and parents, although these kids
were very happy because they'd
never had such good food, com-
fort, and attention, and they
loved being in school.
Saving the Tibetan Culture...
An Interview with
Deanna Campbell
by Randy Peyser