Tashi Delek (Greetings)!
Up until the recent Covid pandemic, each Easter a group of Sixth Form students from our school visited Tashi Lhunpo Monastery in the southern Indian state of Karnataka. The group stay in the Tibetan settlement of Bylakuppe and actually live at the monastery. The monastery holds close ties with Queen Elizabeth High school and has done for many years. We are the only school group that has the privilege of visiting this Tibetan settlement where we are able to secure permits allowing us into this closely protected area.
Whilst there the students gain a knowledge and understanding of the Tibetan culture and Buddhist religion and become an integral part of the community for the two weeks of their stay. The students take part in a whole host of activities, such as visiting Tibetan and Hindu temples and their surrounding communities; tasting a range of delicious Tibetan and Indian food; meeting up with their penpals at the Tibetan Children’s Village school; being part of school life; washing and feeding working elephants; visiting a coffee plantation in the nearby Indian hill station of Madekiri; visiting Mysore’s maharaja’s palace and market to name just a few. One of the highlights of the trip is teaching lessons in the Tashi Lhunpo school, which they always find challenging but great fun and where they often teach a whole range of topics that would make their teachers at QE proud. The students show their appreciation for the hospitality shown to them by giving a much appreciated donation to the school, which has been used in the past to buy text books, stationary, shoes and clothes and help pay for a new roof and a kitchen.
When the group return home and reflect on their adventure they find it so difficult to put into words the amazing experience they have had. They do however show a film they make of the trip and present it to all of the year groups and at a special film night for parents, friends and interested people so that others can experience a little bit of Tibet in India. We look forward to re-establishing the Tashi Lhunpo trip when the pandemic is over.