Tenzin Seldon, a Tibetan student whose academic achievements gave inspiration and pride to thousands of Tibetans, credits her success to a confluence of factors, including her professors, family and friends, and her “innate desire” as a teenager to “self-reflect and fight for justice”.
“As a child, I deeply aspired to create an equitable world, and this single value has manifested within dimension of my service and academics,” said Seldon in an email interview with Phayul today.
“I want to affirm our moral obligation to support and raise awareness for the case of Tibet and China, while evolving our capacities to develop as thoughtful leaders”.
Seldon, 22, who was recently announced as one of the recipients of the prestigious Rhodes scholarship for the year 2011, while sharing her thoughts on the standard of education in the exile Tibetan community, observed that the community is yet to empower vitality and vigour within the younger generation.
“Regardless of how innovative or passionate their ideas might be, many young students that I interacted with lacked the basic skills to command and articulate their views,” Seldon said. “This is an impediment to their development and growth.”
Born to Tibetan refugee parents who later immigrated to the US, Seldon received her primary education in the exile headquarters of the Tibetan administration in Dharamshala, north India.
While lauding Kalon Tripa Dr Lobsang Sangay’s “strong rhetoric and pragmatic approach” in determining education as one of his administration’s principle policies, Seldon expressed hope for the prioritisation and introduction of “critical thinking engagement into the curriculum” by the teachers, administrators, and most importantly, students.
“This is crucial in a first step to reforming and energising our struggle,” Seldon said.
Seldon, who is currently a senior at Stanford University, majoring in comparative studies in race and ethnicity, earlier this year was awarded the Truman Scholarship and has served as diversity chair for the Associated Students of Stanford University.
While at Stanford, Seldon hosted a dialogue with the Dalai Lama and Chinese students in 2010 and created a critical thinking program for Tibetan refugee children.
“Though we have inherited the strong will and certain optimism from the older generation, we as global citizens who care for human rights must remain unrelenting against the perpetration of oppression in any and all forms, including the one inside our motherland,” Seldon said with conviction when asked for her message to the Tibetan youths.
“Remain true to your convictions and passions, which will undoubtedly have a lasting contribution in the world.”
Tenzin Seldon plans to do M.Sc. in refugee and forced migration studies and M.Sc. in modern Chinese studies at Oxford.