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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
J A N U A R Y / F E B R U A R Y 2 0 1 1
A W A R E N E S S M A G A Z I N E /
/ 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
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I understand why the Min-
istry of Education would want
kids to stay in their villages lon-
ger. So, that meant we had to
build small schools in the vil-
lages. We now have schools in
three villages and use the same
teaching techniques.
Miraculously, Tibetan youth
who managed to get an educa-
tion through Dharamsala vol-
unteered to go back into the
villages as teachers. Early on,
our critics said: "You'll educate
the kids, but they'll just flee
the village. They won't go back
there." We found this not to be
the case.
We have youth who are now
going back to their villages as
teachers. Others are working on
tourism so they can bring groups
to the villages in the summer-
time. They're very entrepreneur-
ial and they are reviving their
villages. It's a remarkable thing
to see.
Randy: how old are these
youth?
deanna: Mostly 18-24. Some
are in their 30's. We pay them as
teachers, and with that money
they are able to care for their ag-
ing parents. It took me a while
to understand how things work.
It doesn't disrupt the pattern of
life for the young people to leave
the village, earn money, then go
back in the summertime and
help their elders with the plant-
ing,
This has been the way of life
for hundreds of years. In the win-
tertime the men do the trading.
They were the traders on the
Silk Road. They would leave the
women and children to go trade
during the winter when the vil-
lages were snowed in.
Randy: What were they trad-
ing?
deanna: In the days before
being poverty stricken, they had
traded wool and craft items that
were made from wool, and oth-
er mostly agricultural products.
Summertime they would stay in
the village and help with plant-
ing, then stay to help with the
harvest. Now they leave in win-
ter for work in India or Nepal.
But some are staying in the vil-
lages as teachers.
Eventually, we'll get people
trained as doctors and nurses
and other kinds of profession-
als. They will go back to their
villages and serve. It's amazing
to watch the evolution of sev-
eral villages coming back to life.
Randy: What other programs
do you offer?
deanna: We have a women's
literacy program. One time, I
was doing a meditation and
mantras with the villagers. I no-
ticed the men would take out
Tibetan scriptures and chant
other things, while the women
chanted the very simple, "Om
mani padme om." Afterwards,
I asked why the women didn't
chant the other text as well. The
village leaders looked at me and
said, "The women can't read."
I replied, "Well, we're going to
fix that."
I started evening classes for
women to learn to read Tibet-
an so they could participate at
a higher level in spiritual prac-
tices. We have a tour program to
take people on Buddha pilgrim-
ages in India. Young people help
as guides and managers.
Randy: how do you fund
your programs?
deanna: Mostly by founder
donations -- that's me. I also
do programs where I play our
DVD, talk about the work, and
invite people to donate or go to
our website and sponsor a child
for a very small donation every
month. We are actually looking
for board members to assist us in
reaching the next level of fund-
ing.
Randy: Do you speak all these
different languages?
deanna: No. I usually have
Khenpo Tashi with me. He speaks
English and Tibetan. Oftentimes,
we have a third person with us
who speaks Nepali. Most people
in Nepal who are in public ser-
vice speak English.
Randy: What was your back-
ground before all of this?
deanna: Everything I've done
in my life turns out to have paid
off in the experiences I've had
in this work. My undergradu-
ate degree is in Education. Later
I got an MBA from Pepperdine
University. I worked as an exec-
utive for PacBell and other tech-
nology companies.
When my children were quite
young, I founded a Montessori
School. As they grew, we got in-
volved in camping and hiking
with the Scouts. I also served on
numerous school boards. Unex-
pectedly in 1989, my husband
passed away.
We had just moved to Mon-
tana and acquired two horses.
For grief therapy, I joined Back
Country Horsemen, and spent
two summers riding in the moun-
tains and sleeping out under the
(Continued on page 12)
Opposite page L-R: Tibetan children from the local village,
Deanna with the village elders. Above L-R: a Tibetan
welcome from the villagers, Deanna conducting outdoor
school lesson. Left: an impromptu lesson from the Tibetan
phrase book.
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Photos courtesy
of the
Antahkarana Society