Realizing a Dream: Helping the Siddhartha School My whole life I have known the incredible and eminent Buddhist monk, Khen Rinpoche Geshe Kachen Lobzang Tsetan, and I have grown up hearing of his mission to build a school that provides high-quality education and social equity for the people of his hometown of Stok in Ladakh. Located in the western Himalayas, Ladakh is the last surviving outpost of Tibetan Buddhist culture that has existed unrepressed for over one thousand years. Children from this region, which is now a part of India, have historically struggled academically under the Indian government system in which they have not had access to a culturally sensitive education. Khen Rinpoche and his Siddhartha School (https://siddharthaschool.org/
) have changed that. The Siddhartha School provides a rigorous twenty-first-century education for Ladakhi children, regardless of socio-economic status, while keeping their culture, language, and knowledge of classical texts and Buddhist doctrines alive. His model has proven to be a real success. Siddhartha school students now test among the highest in all of India. Students like Sonam Angmo, an aspiring women’s health worker, are proof positive that Khen Rinpoche’s vision has worked. (See her story here: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=4HR-mVi3chk.
) This year I have an incredible opportunity to go to the Siddhartha School and help further Khen Rinpoche’s dream. I have been invited to spend three weeks in July of 2018 volunteering at the school to do my part to support his mission. I will have the chance to assist with English language instruction and tutoring, in order to help students gain a greater proficiency in English, which is a gateway to international success. A crucial part of my contribution will be to help Ladakhi youth with media savvy. In a community that has so long been isolated from the internet, it can be difficult, especially for those who do not speak English as a first language, to understand the nuances of the media landscape. My goal will be to help them better evaluate digital media and make wise decisions about what they post and where. This opportunity is a chance of a lifetime. My only obstacle is financial. My fundraising goal of $3,000 will cover the cost of airfare and accommodations for three weeks. I would very much appreciate your help in raising these funds so that I can seize this incredible, life-changing opportunity. If I can reach half the amount I need, that is $1,500, by my seventeenth birthday on April 29th, 2018, a generous donor will match the funds, and I will be able to reach my goal. As tokens of my thanks to the supporters of my dream, I will send postcards twice a week from Ladakh to anyone who gives $25 or more; for those who give $100 or more, I will provide an illustrated journal and a special Ladakhi souvenir. Thank so much for your kind support!