About Tenzin Namgyal Tethong

Start in Exile
1959:  Tenzin Tethong started his exile life when he accompanied his family to Mussooriee in 1959 where His Holiness the Dalai Lama, months after his arrival from Tibet, had started a school.  His father was a teacher, and because of a shortage of anyone with knowledge of languages other than Tibetan, Tenzin Tethong and his older brother helped out in many ways.  In 1960 when the first children from the road camps and border areas cames to Mussooriee he was a part time English teacher for young children his age and also their fellow student in the next Tibetan class.
The following year he went to Simla where his father was appointed the Principal for the second Tibetan refugee school. In 1962 his family moved back to Darjeeling where he completed his high school education at Mt. Hermon School graduating with a First Division as a Science Student.

Tibetan Government of Exile
1967 -1968: Secretary-Translator, Department of Education when there was a need for educated staff in the Tibetan Government in Exile.
1971 – 1973: Deputy Secretary of the Information Office which is at present the Department of Information and International Relations.
1973-1986: Representative of His Holiness the Dalai Lama in New York.
1980: Head of Second Delegation to Tibet and China.
1987-1990: Special Representative of His Holiness the Dalai Lama to Washington, D.C.
1990-1993: First of three elected Kalons at Speical Congress. Kalon of various portfolios such as Department of Finance, Home and Information & International Relations.
1994-1995: Served as the Chief of the Cabinet (KalonTripa).

Sheja Publications
1968: With his brother Tenzin Geyche and friend Sonam Topgyal, Tenzin Tethong started Sheja, the first educational publication in exile, the first Tibetan Non-Governmental initiative.  Sheja became a successful and popular publication. While still working with Sheja, Tenzin Tethong also edited and published the Tibetan Review. Both publications became part of the information office of the Tibetan government in exile in 1971.

Tibetan Youth Congress
1970:  He was one of the four convenors of the first Tibetan youth conference in Dharmsala, along with Tenzin Geyche, Sonam Topgyal, Gyari Rinpoche. This conference resulted in the formation of the Tibetan Youth Congress.  He served on its first leadership executive committee.  Since then the Tibetan Youth Congress has become one of the most imporant Tibetan organziations in exile and has a worldwide membership of some 30,000.

Tibet in New York
1973: He was appointed to the Office of Tibet in New York at time when the Tibetan appeal at the United Nations was being dropped by the U.S. government.  Since the political support for Tibet was not there he began to reach out to scholars, Buddhists, and young people who had travelled to India and Nepal in the 1960’s and began a new circle of friends for Tibet.  He brought them together to form the U.S. Tibet Committee and with only about a dozen people, a few Tibetans, a few Mongolian monks, and and handful of Americans held the first March 10th commemoration and march in New York City in 1975.
While the U.S. government, including the media was ignoring Tibet completely, he found a way to invite TIPA on a tour of the U.S.  Together with a small company, Kazuko Hillyer International, he organized the first ever tour of Tibetan performing artists of Europe, the U.S. and Canda in 1975, and the following year Singapore and Australia.  Later he would also organize the first tour of the Gyuto Monks in the United States.

First visit of His Holinesst the Dalai Lama to the U.S.
 One of the most important tasks carried out during his tenure as the Representative of His Holiness the Dalai Lama in New York, was the success in organizing his first visit to the United States.  He worked with Congressmen Charlie Rose and close friends in the U.S. even though there was no official support or encouragement of any kind from the U.S. Government.  However, with the additional support of host organizations, universities, Buddhist groups, and his belief that nothing illegal was being done, Tenzin Tethong made it possible for the visit.

Tibet Fund
During his time in New York, he established the Tibet Fund as part of the work of the Office of Tibet .  He managed to get Tibetan communiites in Canada and in the U.S. - the Tibetan association in Oregon and the Tibetan association in Ontario - to make the initial contributions to build up the Tibet Fund which also attracted other donations made to His Holiness the Dalai Lama.  Tibet Fund currently runs the Tibetan Fulbright Scholarship Program through which hundreds of Tibetans have had the oppurtunity to study at premier universities in the US.  Tibet Fund also received U.S. refugee assistance for new arrivals in India and Nepal.

Other Initiatives 
He was instrumental in the formation of several Tibetan initiatives in North America such as the Tibetan Association in New York & New Jersey, the U.S. Tibet Committee, and Tibetan Associations across the U.S. and Canada.
He started Potala Publications which republished many booklets and information materials about Tibet, and reprinted important books that were difficult to get.  Among them, His Holiness the Dalai Lama’s “My Land and My People”, Tsepon Shakabpa’s “The Political History of Tibet”, and a fascinating turn of the century autobiography by a Tibetan woman in England called “We Tibetans”.
The Office of Tibet also incubated and developed the plans and contacts for a Tibet House in New York City which was is now an important cultural center for Tibet in New York City.

Headed the Second Delegation to Tibet
 1980: Tenzin Tethong headed the second Tibetan fact finding delegation to tour Tibet and China.  The delegation met three imporant Tibetans in Beijing, the Panchen Rinpoche, Ngapo Sawang, and Bapa Phuntsog Wangyal, and toured many parts of Tibet for nearly 3 months finally ending in Lhasa.  The Chinese Government cut short the delegation after the huge outpouring of emotional demonstrations by Tibetans in Lhasa and esepcailly when they visited Ganden Monastery when thousands showed up to express their welcome for His Holiness’ representtives.

International Campaign for Tibet
1987:  During his Holiness’s visit to Washington, when he gave his Five Point Peace plan at the Congressional Human Rights Caucus, he was instructed to stay behind and keep up with the support and interest many members of Congress had for Tibet.  As the Special Representative of His Holiness the Dalai Lama in Washington, D.C., he would not have been ablt to achieve much with limited resources of the Tibetan government.  So he took the initaitive to estblish the International Campaign for Tibet (ICT) as a way to be able to have a real presence which works to promote human rights and democratic freedoms for the people of Tibet while working with the US Government and the European Parliament.
The U.S. Congress responded to the appeals of the new Tibetan representation in Washington, D.C.  Congress passed bills that declared Tibet to be an “occupied country” and began to provide refugee assistance to new refugees coming out of Tibet, and also provided Fulbright scholarships to Tibetan students and established a Tibetan languge radio program through the Voice of America.

First 1000 Visa's for Tibetans to immigrate to the US
During this time he helped to initiate an effort to resettle some Tibetans in the U.S. and played a crucial role in securing 1,000 visas for Tibetans to Immigrate to the U.S.  He was able to bring together a number of key individuals and organizations, including Congressional staff, the Tibet Fund, and many Tibetan community organizations that made it a very succesful project.

In 1990, after 23 years of service in the Tibetan government, Tenzin Tethong became one of the first elected Kalons at a special Congress of members of Parliament, senior government officials, and representatives of key Tibetan institutions and organizations. Along with Jetsun Pema and Kelsang Yeshe, he was elected by over 70% of the votes.
During his five years of service in the elected Kashag, he assumed various portfolios including Home, Finance, Security, Foreign, and Kalon Tripa in the last year.

In 1995 he resigned from government service for personal reasons and moved to the United States.  That year he became the Principal Advisor to the film "Seven Years in Tibet" and helped the Screenplay writer and the Director with the contents of the story, and advised on the artistic aspects of the film production adding greatly to the authenticity of the Tibetan scenes, dialogue, body language and the overall story of Tibet as depicted in the film.

In 1996 he was invited as a Visiting Scholar to teach in the History Department of Stanford University. He taught a course in Tibetan history and contemporary politics, and since was followed by teaching sessions for the Stanford University summer session and Continuing Studies programs.  He is a Distinguished Fellow of the Tibetan Studies Initiative and Chair of the Tibetan Studies Committee working to establish research and teaching positions at Stanford University. 
He also worked actively with Stanford scientists and scholars to organize two visits by His Holiness the Dalai Lama which became important dialogues between Buddhism and Science.  These dialogues and subsequent conferences resulted in the establishment of CCARE, Center for Compassion and Altruism Research and Education. These efforts furthers the work of His Holiness the Dalai Lama who has been encouraged scientists to work closely with Buddhist experts and practitioners whose knowledge of the mind and consciousness may have valuable contributions to make to science and society.  Tethong is a member of the Executive Committee of CCARE along with Geshe Thupten JInpa, another important member who visits Stanford regularly.

In 1997 he was invited to be on the board of the Committee of 100 for Tibet, a group of world renowned figures who support the independence of Tibet.  He currently serves as Chairman of the board of directors.  C100 has been actively engaged in keeping the 100 members informed of what is going on in Tibet, and also in promoting the rights of the Tibetan peoples, especially the concept of the right to self-determination as a universal right.  C100 founded an Institute for Self-Determination and also organized several lectures, workshops and conferences.
One of the conferences, “The Future of Tibet”, was held in Switzerland in cooperation with the Tibetan Youth Association of Europe in 2004 and was attended by 55 Tibetan activists from all over the world.  In addition, Tethong attends the International Tibetan Studies Association conference and other international conferences and seminars related to Tibet, and lectures in many American universities on a regular basis.

In 2002 he was one of the key founding members of The Dalai Lama Foundation, established by students and friends of His Holiness the Dalai Lama.  The founding members decided to work on His Holiness’ message of ethics and peace as outlined in his book “Ethics for the New Millennium”.
The DLF started with an initial study guide of  "Ethics for the New Millennium" which has been translated in to French, Chinese, Portuguese, German, Spanish, Japanese and Hebrew and it has resulted in hundreds of Study Circles all over the world.  The guide has also been downloaded over 30,000 times.  Other online courses and educational materials related to peace are available at the foundation website.
The Dalai Lama Foundation also works to develop close relations with other organizations that are engaged in His Holiness’ work for peace in the world, and collaborates with a number of organizations bearing His Holiness’ name; The Foundation for Universal Responsibility of His Holiness the Dalai Lama in New Delhi, The Dalai Lama Center for Peace Education in Vancouver, Canada, and The Dalai Lama Center for Ethics at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology in Boston.

Tenzin Tethong is also co-founder of an international art exhibition called “The Missing Peace – Artists Consider the Dalai Lama” with has over 80 works of art in many medium by renowned artists from all over the world.  Co-sponsored by the Committee of 100 for Tibet and The Dalai Lama Foundation, it has already toured the major American cities of Los Angles, Chicago, New York, Atlanta, San Francisco, Miami, and traveled internationally to Tokyo, Madrid, Sibu (Romania), and Stockholm, Sweden.  It will  conclude in San Antonio, Texas, in 2011. 
Since this large exhibition cannot be seen in smaller institutions and communities there is a smaller portable version called “The Missing Peace in a Box” which travels to schools and remote communities. The main purpose of the exhibition is to create awareness of the ideas of peace and to carry the inspiration and message of His Holiness the Dalai Lama.  The Dalai Lama Foundation also assisted in the preparation of various educational materials for middle and high school teachers and students.

At the Tibetan community level in the San Francisco Bay area Tenzin Tethong has been one of the key advisors to the Community Center project which, after many years, is near fruition.  He has also given many talks and conducted history courses for the community youth.
Tethong has also advised and supported various cultural, artistic and film projects within the community.
He presently heads a Photo Documentation Project of the exile of the Tibetan people over the last fifty years. The project has already collected thousands of photographs and rare video and films of Dharmsala and settlements in the South of India, and of His Holiness the Dalai Lama.

Even though Tenzin Tethong left government service in1995 he has remained fully engaged in a number of important initiatives that benefit the cause of Tibet.  His work of teaching and engagement contributes to a better and greater understanding of the cause of Tibet and the aspirations of the Tibetan people.  He has also contributed to the wider understanding of the important message of peace and ethics by His Holiness the Dalai Lama, including his engagement with science and spirituality.