Join our Mailing List

"As long as human rights are violated, there can be no foundation for peace. How can peace grow where speaking the truth is itself a crime?"

Monk takes message on rights to school

March 29, 2009


By ROBERT GIBSON robert.gibson@hexham-courant.co.uk
Hexham-Courant
March 27, 2009

A BUDDHIST monk who travels the world to spread
the message of compassion and forgiveness turned
his attention to Prudhoe High School on Monday.

Building ties: From the left, Prudhoe High
School's head of drama Yvonne Clark, teaching
assistant Jacqui Reid, Buddhist monk Palden
Gyatso and his interpreter Tsering Passang.

Palden Gyatso, accompanied by translator Tsering
Passang, spent the day talking to students,
teachers and representatives of the local community about human rights issues.

Mr Gyatso spent 33 years as a political prisoner
in Chinese-occupied Tibet and has since travelled
widely across Asia, Europe and Africa.

His visit marked the 50th anniversary of the
occupation of Tibet and the exile of the Dalai Lama.

"We’ve had such a warm reception," said Mr
Passang afterwards. "The school was keen to host
the event to create an understanding of human
rights issues and an awareness of the situation
in Tibet, and it was a pleasure being here.

"Everyone was very receptive and very keen and
the questions they asked were of a very high standard.

"Palden Gyatso was impressed, particularly with
the children from the high school. He feels that
they are very keen to learn more not only about
his country but about things happening all around
the world, particularly where people are suffering.”

Prudhoe High School’s links with Tibet stretch
back to 2005, when head of drama Yvonne Clark
hosted the first ever UK visit by representatives
from the Tibetan Homes Foundation’s school in
Mussoorie, Northern India, which provides a home
from home for exiled Tibetan children.

Since then, she and teaching assistant Jacqui
Reid have visited the school three times, and the
pupils have been keeping in touch, exchanging artwork, letters and emails.

Each year Mrs Clark holds a full week of
assemblies to raise awareness of human rights and
the work of the Tibetan school.

Mr Gyatso’s trip, part of a UK tour to strengthen
relations between the London-based Tibet Relief
Fund and its British partners, is expected to
raise much-needed funds for a new Tibetan Homes Foundation building project.

In the past few months Prudhoe High School has raised over £600 for the cause.

Mrs Clark said: "The day was a huge success. The
response was great and we’ve had lots of very positive feedback.

"The questioning from the pupils was extremely perceptive and thoughtful."

Head teacher Dr Iain Shaw added: "It is a great
honour to host a visit from Palden Gyatso and to
hear the background to Tibetan history.

"It is also a unique opportunity for our pupils
and the community to learn about Tibetan culture at first hand."

The Chinese gained control of Tibet in 1950,
leading to a rebellion led by noblemen and monasteries.

Tens of thousands of Tibetans were killed in the
resulting conflict, leading the Dalai Lama and
many others to seek exile in India.

The Tibetan Homes Foundation is home to some
2,400 refugees. The welfare and educational needs
of around 500 of these is supported by the Tibet Relief Fund.

During his visit Mr Gyatso was presented with a
framed certificate bearing the Northumberland
coat of arms and several books about North-East England.

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