By Tenzin Sangmo
CTA President presents the award to Dr. Tenzin Dorjee, Phayul Photo/Tenzin Sangmo
DHARAMSHALA, Jan. 12: An official gathering was held at College for Higher Tibetan Studies (CHTS), Sarah this morning to host the conferment of the Three Wheel Recognition Award to Dr. Tenzin Dorjee, IBD alumnus and the chairman of the US Commission for International Religious Freedom.
The President of the Central Tibetan Administration, Dr. Lobsang Sangay attended the event as the chief guest, accompanied by the Education Kalon Dr Pema Yangchen, Secretary of Department of Religion and Culture, Tenzin Lungtok and Deputy Speaker Acharya Yeshi Phuntsok along with other dignitaries.
Geshe Samten Gyatso, the director of CHTS expressed pride in the achievements of Tenzin Dorjee as a former student and thanked him for being an inspiration to the students.
He explained that “The Three Wheel” recognition was the official emblem of the Institute of Buddhist Dialectics (IBD), Dharamsala and its branch CHTS, Sarah. Guided by the objectives and goals of His Holiness the Dalai Lama and the late founder Director Ven. Lobsang Gyatso, it has been decided that from this year onward 'the three-wheel recognition award' would be conferred to the alumni of this institute, who have displayed excellence in the field of Tibetan Buddhism and Culture in particular, and society in general.
Greeting the dignitaries and the audience, Dorjee started off by saying, "After hearing the description of the three-wheel recognition in the context of Buddhism, I am not sure if I live up to it but since I am the first one, maybe it’s okay."
On a more serious note, he said nobody can say he hasn't worked hard.
“I went to the US an old man, at 35, and education was very expensive,” he added.
Referring to the US legislator Nancy Pelosi led congressional delegation to Lhasa during a visit to China in November 2015, he said the visit made her think it would be good to have a Tibetan in the commission.
Dr. Tenzin Dorjee was appointed to the Commission on December 8, 2016, by House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi. He was reappointed to the Commission by Leader Pelosi on May 10, 2018.
On June 12, 2018, Dr. Dorjee was unanimously elected Chair of the Commission.
As the Chairman of the commission, he travelled to Burma and Iraq to monitor religious freedom conditions there. He testified before U.S. Congress about the religious freedom conditions in China, including Tibet, and Long Arm of China in the U.S. academic institutions.
"I, Tenzin Dorje, am not important but the fact that a Tibetan has been appointed the chairman of the commission is something,” he said.
Dorjee expressed happiness at having met the members of parliament-in-exile, the Speaker, Deputy Speaker and standing committee members of Tibetan parliament-in-exile.
A prominent translator, he studied at Sera Jey Monastic University, South India, and the Institute of Buddhist Dialectics, and worked in the Translation and Research Bureau of the Library of Tibetan Works and Archives (LTWA), Dharamsala, India, for over 13 years and continued his translation work volunteering for more than 20 years at the Tibetan Buddhist Center in Long Beach, CA, for over 20 years.
He is also an award-winning teaching faculty, working as Associate Professor at the Department of Human Communication Studies, California State University, Fullerton (CSUF).
Communicating Across Cultures (second edition), the book that he recently co-authored with Stella Ting-Toomey (2019) was launched at the event today.
Calling Dorjee an excellent speaker and an asset for the community, the CTA President lauded CHTS for its accomplishments and promised continued support from CTA. “The college has nurtured many renowned translators and social workers, fulfilling the twin priority His Holiness the Dalai Lama accords to education and social work.”
Sangay opined that Buddhism, in the time of moral and environmental crisis, could well become the religion of the 21st and the 22nd century with its promising antidotes.
Ending the ceremony on a light note, Sangay casually proposed to Dorjee, “If the Tibetan public and CTA asks you to come here to work, please do come,” thereby completing the thought he expressed earlier on how the latter joining CTA would mean being both politically and spiritually involved.