It’s the kind of trip you see in the movies. Pack your bags, load up the car with bottled water and snacks, and drive ever west into the sun. In Norbu Wangyal’s case, everything he knew of California before then was limited to what he’d seen in the movies. After growing up in nomadic area on the Tibetan Plateau, he’d spent most of his time in the States in Massachusetts and Vermont, first at the International Language Institute in Northampton, then learning English at Boston College, and finally at the SIT Graduate Institute.
After days on a road that seemed to stretch on without end, he and his friends were nearing California when they stopped at a rest area for lunch. A lonely older trucker approached them, set down his lunch box, gave them pointers on what to see in California, and then explained the best way to hunt and cook deer. This kind of experience, Norbu laughs, is not something you could replicate in any classroom. “I learned both inside and outside the classroom. At colleges in China—you always learn inside the classroom. In the States, you go to a party and learn different things. You’re learning the culture,” Norbu adds.
The son of a taxi driver and a middle-school cafeteria cook, Norbu came up in school the way most Tibetans do in Qinghai: At boarding schools, kids and teachers alike wake every morning at 5 for memorization and go to bed at 11 p.m. exhausted. There are no weekends, only long stretches of homework and testing (four per year), broken now and then by seven-day holidays. Even today, while there are many wonderful teachers, schools are also filled with professionals who didn’t make it in medical or military careers and are looking for easy job opportunities. Without formal training, many teachers fall back on the teaching methodology they grew up with, one that stressed testing, memorization, and corporal punishment; they simply don’t know any way but the one they themselves were taught.
And what did Trace Foundation’s support mean to Norbu? “Teaching is a lifetime job. I couldn’t do anything else. After coming to SIT, I’ll be able to teach with an awareness about the influence I make on the students. I wouldn’t have been able to do this without this scholarship.”
Each year, Trace Foundation supports more than 500 individuals by covering the costs of tuition and living expenses, whether in the People’s Republic of China or abroad. Though we support a select number of fellows like Norbu to study abroad, the core of our funding goes to students domestically and that's where your help will make the biggest difference. With your generous support, we've raised $20,148 for this project since December ($18,648 through GlobalGiving and another $1500 through other donations). We still have a way to go before we reach our goal of $78,000. But when we come together, even small contributions have the potential to make a profound impact: to help us give access to education and transform a generation. Thank you from everyone at Trace Foundation.
Dear Trace Foundation friends,When we kicked off our GlobalGiving campaign in December to support 30 young Tibetans pursuing their master and PhDs, we were blown away by your generosity. We received donations totaling over $20,000 in one month alone: $15,000 of that through GlobalGiving, and the rest through other donations.Just few days after our project went live, we received an e-mail from Tsering Wangyal, a friend of our librarian. In it, he wrote about a friend who was able to benefit from a Trace scholarship. “I think these projects are wonderful for directly benefiting and making an impact at the grassroots level,” he said. “We are glad to make a small contribution to your project.” Even more remarkable, when he spoke to his daughters about the campaign one night over dinner, even they were inspired—as one Tibetan to another—to contribute out of their monthly pocket money, as was Amala (grandma in Tibetan).Then, after the New Year, we received a visitor to our New York office: a thirty-two-year-old Tibetan woman fresh from a year of study at the SIT Graduate Institute, beamed from ear to ear as she talked about her time in the States.“Sometimes your dream’s big,” she said, “but it doesn’t mean you can realize it unless someone supports you. Trace Foundation definitely changed my life.”After receiving years of support from Trace to develop and implement English teacher training in Qinghai, she applied to us for a scholarship to pursue a Master of Arts in teaching English as a second language through the SIT Graduate Institute. In her application, she wrote about wanting to address the inequities of young Tibetans’ lives: poor education, inadequate health care, and poverty in general: “Within a few months,” she wrote at the time, “my first class will graduate and they will become the teachers of the students who are living in the same conditions that they used to live in, i.e., without enough food, clothes, books, pencils, etc. These students are very clever, just like the many famous people who have contributed to the betterment of humanity, and they, too, deserve better education and better lives.” She has come a long way from her beginnings growing up in a small village where collecting yak dung for fuel took precedence over sticking her nose in books. Back then, English wasn’t a subject available to students—math, chemistry, and geography were all taught in Chinese, a language she struggled with. Everything changed for her when she met her first English teacher, who introduced her to the ABC’s and inspired her to make a difference for other young Tibetans.
She was a 2011 Trace international fellow at the SIT Graduate Institute in Brattleboro, Vermont, where she received a Master of Arts in Teaching English as a Second Language. Each year, Trace Foundation supports more than 500 individuals by covering the costs of tuition and living expenses, whether in the People’s Republic of China or abroad. Though we support a select number of fellows like her to study abroad, the core of our funding goes to students domestically and that's where your help will make the biggest difference. We still have a way to go before we reach our goal of $78,000. But when we come together, even small contributions like those of Tsering's daughters, have the potential to make a profound impact: to help us give access to education and transform a generation. Thank you from everyone at Trace Foundation.
Project Reports on GlobalGiving are posted directly to globalgiving.org by Project Leaders as they are completed, generally every 3-4 months. To protect the integrity of these documents, GlobalGiving does not alter them; therefore you may find some language or formatting issues.
If you donate to this project or have donated to this project, you will get an e-mail when this project posts a report. You can also subscribe for reports via e-mail without donating or by subscribing to this project's RSS feed.