Dharamshala: - On December 14 The University of San Francisco (USF) presented an honorary doctorate degree to Jetsun Pema, the sister of His Holiness the 14th Dalai Lama, who is both the first female minister elected to the Tibetan government in exile and is also longtime director of the Tibetan Childrens Village. In the view of USF, Pema exemplifies the universities ideal of working for the service of others.
The degree was awarded through the School of Education and School of Nursing and Health Professions, in honor of Pema's dedication to peace promotion through the care and education of Tibetan children.
Pema has led the Tibetan Children's Village (TCV) for over 42 years. The organization was formally established in 1972, however Pema's work for Tibetan children began as early as 1964 when His Holiness asked her to run a nursery for the exile community. Her dedication has allowed for the transformation of the small nursery into TCV, which flourishes as it expands and opens more residential facilities, as well as schools to accommodate refuge children, many of whom are orphaned.
Throughout her long career, Pema has been awarded the 1999 United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) medal, the 2000 International Montessori Award for Education and Peace, the 2002 Woman of Courage Award, the 2006 World's Children Prize for the Rights of the Child, and the Glory of India Award in 2008. In recognition of these various honors, the Assembly of Tibetan People's Deputies has given Pema the title 'Mother of Tibet'.
While in the US, Pema was sponsored by the Tibetan Women's Association of New York to give a speech to a group of Tibetans regarding the importance of education. On December 12, she delivered this speech, emphasizing the importance of a Tibetan education for all Tibetan children. According to the Tibetan news blog Phayul, she expressed her concern that many young Tibetans are being exposed to foreign cultures rather than their own cultural, linguistic, and educational traditions. She pointed to schools like TCV as an essential way of keeping alive the rich culture of Tibet, and expressed her hope that donors will continue to support these important projects.