From being a homesick refugee to a career-oriented exile Tibetan


By Rigzin Wangchuk*

(, Dec17, 2014) – Hardships of past bring inner strength to everyone and each has a different challenging story to tell. Among the many Tibetan refugees in India is a young energetic lady from a simple nomadic family in Kham Bawa who had crossed the forbidding snowy Himalayas and reached India in 2001.Her struggles and bitter moments have taken her to a different world of ultimate triumph and self confidence.

On Dec 11, 2014, Dechen was overjoyed to celebrate her graduation at a convocation held by the Tibetan Career Center, a project of the Central Tibetan Administration, Dharamshala, after three months of rigorous training to become a hairdresser. Fifteen trainees who had completed their Jaweb Habib certified hairdressing course were presented their certificates. All the trainees are residents of Dharamshala. And, like Dechen, most of them had no privilege of getting an education during their childhood in Chinese ruled Tibet.

For their fieldwork the trainees visited the local home for the elderly three times during the period of their training and the nearby Tibetan Children’s Village school several times. It was a professional training course combined with social work. Says Dechen, “Helping old people with haircuts and massaging their feet have been very meaningful activities in the course of training as a hairdresser”.

She continued with a sigh that those old-aged people deserved sympathy and help due to their inability to move like us. “Their hands and feet are as cold as ice, given the weather condition these days.”

Dechen has earned her skill to build a career as a hairdresser at the Tibetan Career Center. She is full of hope and looks forward to become a shining example for other Tibetans. As a Buddhist and devotee of His Holiness the Dalai Lama, she believes in not harming others even if she can’t help them.

Though she has seen many twists and turns in her life after becoming a refugee, she considers herself fortunate to have received four years of basic-level education at the Sherab Gatsal lobling school, an adult-education facility near Dharamshala run by the Central Tibetan Administration. That and the vocational training have boosted her self-esteem and she looks to her future with a new sense of purpose. She feels committed to work to the best of her ability in the service of the Tibetan community.

Convocation held by the Tibetan Career Center, a project of the Central Tibetan Administration, Dharamshala
Convocation held by the Tibetan Career Center, a project of the Central Tibetan Administration, Dharamshala

Dechen still remembers her home; she often feels homesick and gets emotional. However, today, after having finished her basic level education and training as a hairdresser, she feels like a new person. She feels confident and ready to work in any Indian salon to gain exposure and move forward.

Those who attended the convocation function included the Tibetan Women’s Association President Mrs Tashi dolma and an invigilator from the Jaweb Habib Company.


* Ms Rigzin Wangchuk is a student of BA in journalism at Madras Christian College, Chennai, India, and currently on internship at the Tibetan Review, Delhi.


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