Independent Study Project Outline

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Title: “Others Before Self: Case Study of Tibetan Children’s Village Selakui”

Goal: How does Buddhism influence Tibetan Children’s Village Selakui (TCV)?

1.      What are the Buddhist elements present at TCV? How do they manifest in the approaches to teaching, residential life, the social environment and the physical space of the school and the classroom? Are they implicit or explicit?

2.      In turn, how do these influences manifest themselves in students? How do they affect the students’ social and emotional well being?

3.       Does compassion play a role in the influence of Buddhism at TCV? What is the relationship between this type of compassion and the definition of compassion according to the dharma?


1.      Background

1.      Brief history of education in Tibet (Bernstorff, Saklani, Pema)

2.       History of all TCV schools and TCV Selakui (Vahali, Pema, Bernstorff)

3.       Review of anthropological literature on TCV

2.      Fieldwork at TCV

1.       Introduction – size, mission, Selakui in relation to other TCVs

2.       Buddhist influences on the school

1.       How does the institution implement Buddhism at TCV?

1.      explicit examples

2.      implicit examples

2.      How do these influences affect the students?

1.      students’ view on Buddhist influence

2.      adults’ (parents, faculty) view on the effects

3.      observation of behavior

3.      Are the students developing compassion?

1.      observations/evidence

2.      students’ understanding of compassion

3.      relate to Buddhist understanding of compassion (Dalai Lama, Sogyal Rinpoche, Chokyi Nyima Rimpoche, Shantideva)

3.      Analysis

4.      Conclusion

Conceptual Framework: Anthropological perspective of Buddhist influences on TCV, with a more focused, philosophical approach to compassion

Methodology: Literature review of anthropological research on TCV, review of Tibetan Buddhist texts relating to compassion, classroom observation and participation, interviews with students, teachers and faculty

Resources: Through arrangements with the Principal and Secretary of TCV, I hope to interview TCV faculty, staff/administrators, and TCV students. Outside of the school, through meals with families nearby (arranged by Secretary), I hope to interview TCV parents and alumni. At the Burmese Vihar, through setting up appointments, I hope to gain some insight into Tibetan Buddhism through Punya and Chokyi Nyima Rinpoche.


Past projects: 2008, Alex Pfieffer-Rosenblum on compassion; 2011, Alyssa Barba on compassion; 2010, Greer Dent on TCV Upper Dharamsala; 1994, on TCV Upper Dharamsala.


Vahali, Honey O., Lives in Exile: Exploring the Inner World of Tibetan Refugees – psychological factors relating to Tibetan Children

Pema, Jetsun, Tibet: My Story – history of the TCV schools and Tibetan exile

Saklani, Girija, The Uprootes Tibetans in India – education in exile

Nowak, Margeret, Tibetan Refugees – explicit and implicit Buddhist education

Sogyal Rinpoche, The Tibetan Book of Living and Dying – compassion practices

HH Dalai Lama, My Land, My People – history and mission of TCV schools

HH Dalai Lama, The World of Tibetan Buddhism – compassion in Tibetan Buddhism

Shantideva, The Way of the Bodhisattva – compassion practices

Bernstorff, Exile as Challenge: The Tibetan Diaspora – education pre-exile and TCV

Method of Evaluation: Paper