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stars or pitching a tent. I also
held a high-powered job.
One day, I decided it was time
for me to retire, and shortly after
that, I met Tashi. Everything just
came together; management,
teaching, non-profit boards, wil-
derness living -- it's all a fit. Just
doing what was in front of me in
life prepared me for this particu-
lar work, and I love doing it.
Randy: how frequently do
you travel there?
deanna: I go every year. This
year, I am going very briefly
because we have a staff of vil-
lage youth who are managing
the work very effectively. I also
take a small group on a fund-
raising tour every year. This year,
the group will tour China, Tibet,
Mt. Everest and Kathmandu. I
will meet with the staff and help
them with the training and plan-
ning for next year. My biggest
job right now is fundraising, and
I can do that best in the United
Randy: What do you want to
deanna: We want to raise
more money for our schools.
Every year we have to add new
classrooms and more teachers as
the children graduate to the next
grade and younger ones enter.
Additionally, when I go to
Kathmandu, people line up out-
side my office begging me to
take their children, or come to
their village and build a school.
We can't. We are now at a place
where it takes all our resources
to fund the programs we have
going right now. My dream is to
build an endowment fund that
would allow us to expand our
programs from village to vil-
Randy: Who builds schools?
deanna: Antahkarana Soci-
ety funds the schools, pays the
teachers' salaries, and purchas-
es the materials, but the villag-
ers build the schools. They build
them out of stones in the vil-
lage. Wood has to be brought
in by yak from other areas be-
cause these villages are way
above the timber line.
Wood is very expensive, but
the villagers help and we do
get some money from the Ne-
pali government for some of the
construction. However, we don't
anticipate government funding
Randy: Can you share a story
about someone whose life has
been turned around as a result
of your efforts?
deanna: A precious elev-
en-year-old girl named Trinley
comes to mind. She was in the
first class to come to Kathman-
du. She quickly rose to the top
of her class. Had she not had an
opportunity to enter school, she
would have spent her life illit-
erate, working in the fields, and
in her home, caring for her elder
sisters and mother. She would
have had no way to shine and
she would have been married
Now she is a happy and bright
young girl looking forward to
continuing her education and
returning to her village as a doc-
tor. This is something that could
never have happened, except
that she has this opportunity to
get an education.
Randy: Do the parents sup-
port the girls as much as the
deanna: They do. The Tibet-
ans do very well by
their girls. The boys
are sometimes first
to get an education
if there is a choice
to be made, but the
girls are very well-
Randy: Did you
ever run into any
problems with the
deanna: No, not
with the Chinese
or the Nepali, but
there are Maoist in-
surgents. Nepal has
been fighting a civil war for the
past 10 years. The Maoists are
guerrilla fighters and organizers.
Nepal became a democracy in
1997, but democracy never got
The Maoists started a revo-
lution and the insurgency last-
ed until two years ago when a
truce was called. However, it
was short-lived. Many NGOs
curtailed their work during that
decade. We didn't. We contin-
ued working. The villages we
go to are so remote, the Mao-
ists never bothered us. How-
ever, if the Maoists call a strike
in Kathmandu, things really get
Randy: What are you most
deanna: I'm most proud of
the youth who go back into the
villages as teachers and tour
guides. They're spiffing up their
parents' homes to make them
suitable as trekker's guest hous-
es. I'm also very proud of how
well the kids do in school. They
are driven to get an education.
Their parents and village elders
know that education is the way
out of poverty. They're highly
motivated and work very hard.
Randy: What is the mes-
sage you want to get out to the
deanna: It is important to
preserve Tibetan/Buddhist cul-
ture in its native indigenous
form. We know the plight of the
Tibetan refugees, and people
respond very quickly to them.
But people don't know about
these Tibetans. They are living in
their villages and have a deep
desire to remain there, but at the
same time, they want to come
into the modern world.
I don't know any other or-
ganization that is devoted to
preserving indigenous Tibetan
culture as is Antahkarana. The
Dalai Lama said he was con-
ceding the fact that the Tibetan
Buddhist culture in Tibet was lost
and the only way it would be
preserved would be to preserve
the culture in the Himalayan re-
gion. That was his statement in
2009. We have been engaged in
this work since 2005.
Randy: What does Antahka-
deanna: Antahkarana means
"inter-connectedness or net-
work." I chose that name be-
cause I was thinking of people
all over the world taking re-
sponsibility for themselves and
for others. We really are all one.
With a sense of "Antahkarana,"
you understand you cannot let
another culture languish without
a part of you also languishing.
That's why I do the work.
There is an immediate criti-
cal need and a greater purpose
as well. I know we are right on
the mark in terms of what needs
to be done for Tibetan culture. I
would like for the whole world
to support this effort because we
have a mission and a model that
works. We just need more hands
on deck and more resources.
For more information, visit www.
Randy Peyser is the author of "The
Power of Miracle Thinking." She also
edits books, writes book proposals,
and helps people find literary agents
and publishers. www.AuthorOneStop.
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Zhang school children.