Rebkong Library and Learning Center Opens in Tibet

When the Tibet Project, a Cultural Survival Special Project, began in 1990, its ambition was to help meet the needs of over 100,000 Tibetan refugees. It began with a rug-weaving project that promotes the tradition of weaving and vegetable-dying in Tibet (see CSQ 27:2). Through this work, the Tibet Project has been able to fund students at the Srongsten School, an exile government school in Nepal; build two schools in India; provide for food-supplement programs; ship textbooks to Nepal and India; and assemble a computer classroom in Nepal.

As part of the Tibet Project’s growing agenda toward empowering Tibetans and Tibetan refugees, a new building has recently been acquired to serve as the Rebkong Library and Learning Center in the town of Rebkong, Qinghai Province.

The library is a new innovation for the Tibet Project. It will "play an important role in cultural education for the community,” report project coordinators. The library will “provide a space for gathering and learning.” It will build community involvement and “civil society consciousness” by providing continuing adult education and public access to information.

The first round of classes in English and Tibetan languages for adults began in February. With relatively little publicity, the library received 140 applications for participation in the program. Two native English-speakers serve as volunteer teachers and two library staff members are teaching classes in Tibetan.

The library staff and volunteers have been working hard to ready the building for use. The beginnings of a trilingual book collection are in the works as some books have been purchased. The library will house and provide access to publications in Tibetan, Chinese, and English.

Community members including farmers, students, scholars, cadres, and monks are animated about the building and the innovative role it will play in the Rebkong community. “The library is one of Rebkong’s crown jewels,” county leaders have said. “We should be proud of it.”

In the future, the Tibet Project wants to offer computer training in the Tibetan language at the library. “This will encourage and empower local Tibetans,” said Losang Rabgey, Tibet Project co-coordinator. The library will also facilitate public talks and lectures for the community.

The Tibet Project coordinators hope to increase the use and function of the library by accumulating more books and publications, building desks to facilitate English-language classes, and purchasing computers for instructional purposes.

For more information about the library, contact co-coordinator Losang Rabgey at rabgey@hotmail.com. Donations can be sent to Cultural Survival at 215 Prospect Street, Cambridge, MA 02139.

Sarah Albrecht is a Cultural Survival intern.

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