Articles by alphabetic order
 Ā Ī Ñ Ś Ū Ö Ō
1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 0

Last King of Tibet graduates U.S. boarding school from 'Dead Poets Society' after being mentored by Dalai Lama

From Chinese Buddhist Encyclopedia
(Redirected from Trichen)
Jump to navigation Jump to search
983-1A 00000.jpg

 Lhagyari Trichen Namgyal Wangchuk, known as Trichen, has been studying at St. Andrew's School in Delaware since 2010
    He was coronated King of Tibet by the Dalai Lama when he was 12, a year after his father passed away
    His dad, Lhagyari Trichen Namgyal Gyatso, spent two decades in prison after the Chinese took over Tibet more than 60 years ago
    Trichen travels America talking about the plight of his people though bears no hatred towards the Chinese
    One day he would like to be the elected leader of his homeland, though he's never been


By Helen Pow

5DC-47 63.jpg

Like others in his graduating class, Lhagyari Trichen Namgyal Wangchuk is excited to leave St. Andrew's School this week and begin the four-year American institution of college - a rite of passage in the U.S.

But unlike many of his classmates, Trichen, as he's known, doesn't take this privilege lightly.

As the last remaining descendant of Tibetan kings, who was mentored from an early age by the Dalai Lama, the 20-year-old knows all too well that millions of people suffering in his homeland don't enjoy the same freedoms.

Trichen grew up with his mother and three older sisters in exile in northern India, where he attended a Tibetan Children's Village boarding school in Dharamasala.

His childhood was by no means privileged but his family got by renting space to shop owners.

His father, Lhagyari Trichen Namgyal Gyatso, a former Tibetan king who was thrown in prison for more than two decades, passed away when Trichen was just 11 years old, leaving him as the only recognized descendant of the first Dharma King of Tibet, King Songstem Gamp, who introduced Buddhism in the seventh century.

A year later, aged 12, Trichen was coronated by the Dalai Lama, one of whose speeches his father was meditating to when he died.

'When I first met him officially, I almost forgot my name,' Trichen told Delaware Online in an extensive interview this week.

He said at first he struggled with the marathon prayer sessions, knowing his friends were mucking around, carefree, in the streets.

But, as he grew older, he became grateful for the opportunity to be a 'voice for the voiceless' and call, if not for independence from China then at least human rights for the Tibetan people.

It was during one of these sessions when the Dalai Lama suggested Trichen pursue a 'modern education' in America.

And in 2010 he enrolled at St. Andrew's, the prestigious school portrayed in the film 'Dead Poets Society,' with the help of New York-based filmmaker Holly Carter. Earlier that year, Carter made a documentary about Trichen and his county, which he narrated in English.

The school, featured in the 1989 film, gave Trichen a full scholarship and other wealthy benefactors funded the living expenses of its first-ever Tibetan student.

'In my old school, we would listen and memorize,' Trichen told Delaware Online. 'Here, I think. Here, I talk.'

He studied Mandarin at the school - his fourth language - to deepen his connection with his late father, he told the website.

 'It's really hard to let him go,' ChiaChyi Chiu, Trichen's academic adviser and Chinese language instructor told Delaware Online.

'He has a very humble heart,' Chiu said. 'He is willing to learn from everybody.'

On holidays, Trichen stayed with Carter, other 'second mothers' and some St. Andrew's faculty, who introduced him to Americanisms including Starbucks and the Philadelphia cheesesteak.

He also spent summers babysitting for friends of these families in the Hamptons.

This year, he bunked with another student in Greenwich, Connecticut, and passed the time slamming tennis balls against the wall and singing along to Jack Johnson.

'They don't care about my title,' he said. 'They like me as a person. In my hometown, we are friends, but they know who I am.'

But while he's tried hard to fit in as an American, his homeland is always close to his heart.

 Over the past three years, he has visited dozens of schools across the U.S. to spread the word about the plight of his people.

He said he usually starts the speeches by sharing his affection for the Chinese people - and his love of Chinese food.

But he also wants to explain the injustices Tibetans have been dealt for more than 60 years - since the Chinese invaded Tibet, exiled the Dalai Lama and threw his father in prison where he was shocked with electric prods and forced to wear heavy chains, he said.

He informs the audiences that his people's cultural identity is becoming diluted because they are not permitted to study in the languages of their ancestors.

In the fall, Trichen will attend Gettysburg College in Pennsylvania, where he plans to major in political science.

But he dreams of going to the land of those ancestors, and the home of the most spectacular mountains in the world, to serve some six million Tibetans in a democracy, which he deems 'the best policy of the 21st century.'

'I would have to be elected,' he said. 'I don't want to be the chosen one.'