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Brother of Dalai Lama meets with students in Chestnut Ridge

October 17, 2007

The Journal News / Lohud.com, NY
October 12, 2007

CHESTNUT RIDGE - The brother of the Dalai Lama related his storied
 personal history yesterday to students at the Green Meadow Waldorf School.

Gyalo Thondup, 78, who has also worked to improve the welfare of the
 people of Tibet and Tibetan exiles, spoke to sixth through 12th-graders
 at the school for more than hour.

"It was wonderful to hear from someone who has so much incredible
 knowledge and who has experienced so much," said Jessalyn Traino, 18, of
 North Haledon, N.J. "You can just feel all of the things that's he's
 experienced coming out of him as he was talking. It was just amazing."

Thondup was 6 years old when his brother was born. It was a stormy day,
 he said, and Thondup was about to go to a market with his older
 sister. But when his mother went into labor, Thondup's sister was asked to
 stay behind and aid in the impending delivery, which, as was tradition in
 northeastern Tibet, took place in a horse stable.

His sister, he said, was not happy to stay.

"My sister is crying. You know, she's very hot-tempered, very
 hot-tempered," he said, eliciting laughter from the crowd, "She was pulling her
 hair."

Thondup went to the market with villagers instead of his sister.

"When I returned from that particular market day, the small baby was
 crying," Thondup said. "I remember everything."

His brother, Lhama, was recognized as the 14th Dalai Lama at the age of
 2.

As a teenager, Gyalo Thondup left Tibet to study in Nanjing, China,
 where he learned the Chinese language and culture. He eventually returned
 to Tibet, but in 1952, after the Chinese invasion of the region,
 Thondup fled for India. The Dalai Lama fled seven years later, after a
 Tibetan uprising in the capitol of Lhasa was suppressed by military force.

Thondup said that he doesn't hate anyone, "even (though) the Chinese
 killed so many of my brothers and my sisters in Tibet ... I don't hate
 Chinese people."

Thondup helped establish the Tibetan government in exile in India and,
 in 1979, met with then-Chinese leader Deng Xiaoping. Thanks to the
 meeting, borders between Tibet and China were temporarily unsealed,
 allowing exiles separated from their families for two decades to reunite.

Thondup continues to be optimistic that the treatment of Tibetans in
 China will improve.

"I'm watching the China situation and the Tibetan situation and the
 international situation," he said. "I think things probably will change,
 but very slow ... ."

Thondup is in the United States this month to raise support for his new
 foundation, a research and policy group dedicated to assisting
 Tibetans in exile and those living in Tibet.

His visit to Green Meadow Waldorf was arranged by a parent, Suzanne
 Dickerson, of Leonia, N.J. She is a volunteer with the Himalayan Light
 Foundation, which brings renewable energy to people living in Himalayan
 regions.

"I found him so inspiring," Dickerson said. "He's living history... I
 know for high school students, for them to meet somebody who can tell
 their story and make it come alive, it's very meaningful."

CTC National Office 1425 René-Lévesque Blvd West, 3rd Floor, Montréal, Québec, Canada, H3G 1T7
T: (514) 487-0665   ctcoffice@tibet.ca
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