Though being a parent in today's complicated and conflicted world is no easy matter, one thing we in America don't have to worry much about is whether our kids will learn our language and culture. We have an educational system in place, and, providing moms or dads get their kiddos off to school each day, Billy or Becky will learn their ABC's and, later, the history of our country.
Not so for parents in Tibet -- where China is in control -- or even for Tibetans who have fled into exile in other nations. Tibetan language and culture will slowly die out unless this generation of Tibetans steps up and tutors the next.
I've been photographing Tibetans in Seattle for eight years now and the pictures I've posted above are from the Tibetan community's Language and Culture class, held each Sunday in a rented classroom and taught by volunteer parents and elders. Tibetan kids go to regular school Monday thru Friday, and to Tibetan school Sunday.
A fundraising banquet was held Saturday evening, proceeds going to the school. Below you'll see some behind-the-scenes moments as the kids practiced (and played, because, after all, they are kids) before taking the stage and performing for their proud parents and community.
One Tibetan teacher addressed the banquet crowd and said: "We will not be erased."
For my Tibetan friends in Seattle, educating the next generation is personal.