A Party with a Purpose: Tibetans in Washington DC

Tibetan students of Capital Area Tibetan Association Sunday School, performing at New Year Eve party 31 December 2019.

Tibetan students of Capital Area Tibetan Association Sunday School, performing at New Year Eve party 31 December 2019. Gangjong Bu

By Gangjong Bu

WASHINGTON, DC, US, 6 January 2020

Tibetans living in Washington DC ushered in the New Year with generosity and goodwill. Local Tibetans collectively made the New Year Eve Bodyi Lapta fundraising a phenomenal success through sponsorships, donations, and by showing up. For the first time, a fundraising event has doubled the PTA revenue.

Capital Area Tibetan Association’s (CATA) Sunday Bodyi Lapta came into existence in 1997. It is an umbrella organisation of the Capital Area Tibetan Association, but mainly is run independently by the Committee of the PTA (Parent-Teacher Association). Bodyi Lapta Weekend Tibetan school has become the last hope for Tibetan children in the West to stay connected with their roots. It focused on educating bright Tibetan children and cultivating them with Tibetan language and cultural identity.

Over more than a decade CATA’s Bodyi Lapta was led by Tenzin Lhundup la, who retired from the post in 2019. Parents and teachers alike highly commended his voluntary services for making the fledgling Bodyi Lapta to a robust, fully functional weekend school for the kids. Tenzin Lhundup la was suitably honored as the chief guest of the New Year Eve, for his dedicated yeoman’s leadership service for the Bodyi Lapta. In his address to the gathering, Tenzin Lhundup la emphasized the importance of the Tibetan children’s education, and credited all who have positively contributed to the school’s success and sustainability.

After his departure, the mantle of leadership for PTA was passed down to a committee comprised of Kalsang Dorjee, Tenzin Norbu, and Dorjee Damdul. Parents elect them for 2-year terms.

The New Year’s Eve party conventionally reserved for Bodyi Lapta’s fundraising in DC is the first public event by the new committee. The fundraising was a great success, a testament that the Bodyi Lapta is in good hands and that the solid foundation laid by the PTA committee in the past will grow stronger on the shoulders of unwavering support by the local Tibetan teachers, parents, and supporters.

Hence, there is great hope for the Tibetan children’s language and cultural identity to thrive, which will be a reasonable force for the Tibetan cause.

New Year Eve Party Sponsors

The significant part of the New Year’s Eve success stems from the sponsorship by local Tibetan businesses. A local Tibetan-run business named PuroClean of Alexandria-Owners Phuntsok Dhargyal, and Tenzing Jigme generously donated to cover the entire hall rental for New Year Eve party to the amount of $1000.Other big donors include $500 from Dr. Jigme Lhatze of Dominic Family Dentistry and another $500 from Achi Tsepal, Children of Tibet. Their contribution was motivated by their strong support for the perseveration and promotion of Tibetan language and cultural identity for the Tibetan children in DC areas.

Other generous and thoughtful community members could not make it to the party, but contributed to the entry tickets of $20 per person. Similarly, all items for the raffle prizes are generously donated by Gyen Phurbu Dolkar la, Migmar Dolma la, and Tsering Wangkhang la. Thus, local Tibetan people’s moral and financial support went a long way for the success of the fundraising. 

A Stage for Tibetan Talent

The New Year’s Eve party hall in Georgetown Pike in Mclean was conservatively decorated, and tables were nicely arranged and served with fresh Khabtse, butter tea, and delicious food prepared exclusively by the parents. Everyone, including the Bodyi Lapta committee members and parents were required to buy tickets, except few guests. The number of people who showed up for this year’s party was significantly high.

Those dignitaries invited included former Kalon Tripa Tethong Tenzin of the Tibetan Government-in-exile; former Secretary of Private Office of HH the Dalai Lama, Mr Lobsang Jingpa; head of Rabgya Mahayana Buddhist Cultural Center, Ven Shingza Rinpoche; Bhuchung Tsering of ICT; and staff from the Office of Tibet. The presence of those distinguished elder Tibetans lends weight to the new year, gathering like a party with a purpose.

The highlight of the Eve party was the various cultural performances by Bodyi Lapta children clad in beautiful culture custumes. The stage is for the children’s variety of talent shows. 

Beginning from the lowest Kindergarten students from age four onward, to senior students who are high-school age, all staged some impressive performances. A Tibetan rap by the senior students and a group of PTA Tibetan ladies equally wowed the audience with the performance of a Bollywood dance and solo dance. All these added variety to the cultural show. The bingo game and raffle tickets, too, built excitement in the crowd for a fun-filled evening.

Food and Fun

Around 10:30 pm, the floor was open for the group Gorshey, and everyone stepped in to dance to their heart’s content. The party bars were doing a brisk job of selling the drinks, and people became reasonably tipsy. After all, it was New Year, bidding goodbye to 2019 and embracing the new year with joy and renewed purpose of life.

Given the overwhelming support of all Tibetans attending the party, and the energy and efficiency of the organizers of the Eve party, it was a great beginning of the new year for a bright future for the Tibetan children. If only the Tibetan parents can make a New Year resolution that from now onwards that they speak only Tibetan to their children.

Capital Area Tibetan Sunday School is known to be the bastion of Tibetan culture and language for the upbringing of the Tibetan children. Parents realize that and the Tibetan Sunday school becomes the go-to place for children’s Tibetan education, where they feel a sense of belonging and purposes. It is paying off handsomely in the long run, largely thanks to the dedicated teachers, parents, and community support. The only once a year New Year’s Eve party is all it takes financially to run the Bodyi Lapta successfully. We hope this tradition will keep on, and Bodyi Lapta will continue to be an essential part of bringing Tibetans together under one language, one culture, and one identity in the burgeoning Tibetan-American community.


Copyright © 2020 Gangjong Bu Published in Tibet Sun Posted in News You Witness » Tags: , ,