An exclusive interview with Topden, a young Tibetan teacher at Upper Tibetan Children's Village School (TCV). He shares with Tibet Post International(TPI) how it feels to be a teacher being a student his whole life. He also talks about the importance of one’s mother tongue. His hopes for his students as a teacher.
TPI: Can you introduce yourself?
Interviewee: My name is Topden. I did my early schooling from TCV Suja in Himachal Pradesh, North India till 10th grade. I joined Dalai Lama Institution for Higher Education in Bangalore in South India for BA Honours in Tibetan Language and Literature. I started working in Upper TCV after my graduation in 2017. I work here as a Tibetan teacher. I teach Tibetan to class eighth and ninth students. I have been working here for more than two and a half years now.
TPI: What inspired you to be a teacher in the first place or is there a role model?
Topden: My first inspiration is that a teacher’s responsibility is a heavy one. A teacher is like light in the darkness and if it isn’t taken seriously it will be a problem. Initially I thought it is a very hard job because a teacher is someone who paves way for students’ future. But as I continue to be a teacher and I feel happier each day. If I don’t do that job well then it will be one of the biggest regrets I will have. I am a Tibetan language teacher. Tibetan language is like the spirit and soul of our nation. I am very glad to be able to make some contributions in making my students understand our own mother tongue with the best of my own ability. It gives me a great sense of happiness and satisfaction.
TPI: What is the most amazing thing about being a teacher?
Topden: The amazing thing is that one needs to have interest in the job one does. As for me, the responsibility of being a teacher and my interest in this teaching line is very strong. My work gives me happiness as I have interest in my own duty. Teaching means learning and I learn as much as I want. It is important to properly educate our young children who are the future of this nation.
TPI: What do you expect most from your students?
Topden: I personally wish them to learn and understand our own mother tongue better each day. But changes in a society is huge. We are a small community with heavy external influences. Children do not have much time to learn and focus on our language. We are living in the 21st century and children have lots on their plates. But I do sincerely hope they would put more effort in learning our own mother tongue.
TPI: What are the most challenging steps in being a teacher?
Topden: Being a teacher is not only about teaching alone. Learning is also an important part of it. We need to learn new things as teachers and teach them to the students. Experiences alone will not help in this line. It is also about preparation to invoke a good understanding in the students. We have different kinds of students varying in behaviour, attitude and expression. A teacher should be able to adjust to that while teaching. As well as making a suitable environment for all of them. Understanding the different ways of students’ behaviour is challenging. Spending time with the children and little by little reaching a point of knowing them better. As much time as one spends with children, one learns many lessons and other new things.
TPI: How different are the previous and the current students?
Topden: One of the most distinctive differences between previous and current students is that as I have been a student before I know a little how different it is. There used to be a proper yet little distance between the teachers and students previously. Relatively the students were very independent too. Nowadays, students and teachers are very close since most students are very open about what they want. But most of the time students these days don’t study voluntarily. They will not study their own like the previous students without a teacher constantly reminding them to do so. It hugely depends on taking responsibility for oneself voluntarily or not.
TPI: Do you enjoy teaching and what is your second most wanted job?
Topden: I personally have interest in teaching and I find happiness in teaching. Teaching needs preparation and while doing so I am able to learn so much. Due to the need of time and surroundings, people usually intend to work in a more financially stable environment. For me teaching is a very delightful job. As for a second job since I did my higher studies in our own Tibetan language, I want to continue to contribute in the same way in this line. I really wanted to work for the Central Tibetan administration (CTA). But working for TCV and CTA is the same. The only difference is the salary. It is a service given to our own community.
TPI: Any message for the students or their parents and public?
Topden: For the students, 2020 has made it impossible for all of us to have class in a room like before. But children are with their parents. We have online classes frequently as well. I hope they are utilizing this time to study and be helpful to their parents in possible ways. Study on time and don’t waste this precious time. You all are the future of our nation and I wish every student to stay happy and healthy.