Q. How did you come to the US?
A. As the school in Varanasi has Buddhism as its core course,
and as I was not doing so well in those subjects (more of my
own choosing), at the end of six years there, I got very nervous
regarding what I was going to do with my life. After many sleepless
nights thinking about my future, on my summer sojourn in Leh,
Laddakh, in the summer of 1984, I decided to write to my American
friend, a father figure, in California, and asked him if he
could help me in coming here to the U.S. With his positive response,
and help from my dear sisters and their husbands, in September
of 1984, I came here to New York, as a tourist, with just about
a couple of hundred dollars.
Q. What was your previous occupation and what is your present
A. I work for a commuter railroad company in New York, as a
Senior Treasury Analyst. It has to do with the cash management
of our entire company that has over 5500 employees and numerous
vendors. Although not related with my studies, I am very fortunate
to work with people that have always tolerated my lack of knowledge
on accounting and have been patient enough to show how it is
done. Throughout my career in this company since 1985, I count
it as a blessing that I got to work with so many wonderful people.
Q. Could you tell us what roles you have played in various
A. I’d like to think I’ve had a hand in starting
a few organizations. Together with some Tibetan friends, we
started the Tibetan Youth Association of New York and New Jersey
(currently Regional Tibetan Youth Congress of NY and NJ) in
mid-80s. In 1994, with the help of fellow board members of TYC,
we started a Tibetan Dance group, Cholsum. And in 1995 with
some Sherpa friends, I was involved in starting an organization
for Sherpas, Sherpa Kyidug, and United Sherpa Association. I
served as a board member of the Tibetan Youth Congress in New
York at its founding and have since been on the board twice
after as it’s president. While serving my third term at
the TYC, I was fortunate enough to serve also as a board member
of Tibetan Association of NY and NJ. In the Sherpa Kyidug, I
have served twice as the president.
Q. What motivates you to do community work?
"To me, my
first priority is my family. Second is my job that allows
me to take care of my family. Once these two priorities
are taken care of, community work, when presented —
I’d like to think — comes naturally to me.
I do have selfish reasons to do so though."
A. Many a times it isn’t any motivation at all. People
call me asking if I can help, and in the cases I can, I agree,
and go about doing what I can. With almost the same energy put,
if I can do for the entire community, that, obviously benefit
more and for that matter more effective. To me, it is a very
simple proposition. I do try to get my priorities straight.
Community work is something I dearly enjoy.
To me, my first priority is my family. Second is my job that
allows me to take care of my family. Once these two priorities
are taken care of, community work, when presented — I’d
like to think — comes naturally to me. I do have selfish
reasons to do so though.
Satisfaction that I get from doing any community work is tremendous.
Making a person or two happy gives me certain pleasures. And
it also gives me an opportunity to work with ‘grown ups’
to ‘solve grown up problems’.
One will start feeling that when you have two school going
children. If you know what I mean. So, to anyone, who’s
willing to hear me, I say, once you take care of your first
two priorities, instead of staying home and watching TV –
do something good for others. Be it to a person or a community.
There’s always something we can do.
Q. In a busy place like New York, how do you make time to
handle personal, professional and community service?
A. I work in a classic environment of 9 to 5 office, where
all the modern communication is readily available to me. Additionally,
my benefit of working here includes quite a number of personal,
vacation and sick days. So, with a decent management of time
on my part, after doing my daily duties at the office, community
work is an extension of sorts I feel of my daily work. Much
of the work is computer-related — writing letters or planning
or creating agendas for next meeting or preparing budgets etc.
So, even at work, whenever I can and am needed, I make time
to do community work. (When, in a friendly way, harassed by
my coworkers seeing me do community work, I tell them, “instead
of talking about sports and TV shows like you guys do, I’m
at least doing something for my needy community.”) At
home, it is being on the phone or working on the computer, when
the children are doing their homework or watching TV, or outdoors
playing. I believe anyone can make time for anything one wants
to do. It is a very highly exaggerated claim when any one says
they’re too busy to do anything else. It’s not because
I have time, but rather that I make time.
Q. What do you feel are some of the main issues that you
feel your/ our community faces presently? What do you think some
of these issues could have in the near and long term future on
children’s well-being in our community is the most
important issue that naturally affects our future."
A. Our children’s well-being in our community is the
most important issue that naturally affects our future. Naturally
growing up in the United States, they are as American as an
Apple pie. They, along with millions of children throughout
the country long for Christmas. But, we have the responsibility
to make our children long for Losar also. We have to instill
that fun and interest that Losar should bring to them. It is
just one example that one can apply to many other instances
that affect our daily lives.
In the topic of Losar, for the first time in our Sherpa annual
Losar party in 2002, we initiated programs for children. Clowns
and magicians were invited; a cotton candy stand was brought
in. Arts and crafts were introduced to children. Their favorite
McDonalds and pizza were ordered for lunch and dinner. Children’s
movies were shown and a stereo was set up for them to dance
in their own choice of music. This was done in consultation
with the children, making them part of the festivities of Losar.
This to some children was so much fun, some asked when other
such programs will be organized. Ever since that party, our
Sherpa community has kept on the tradition of entertaining our
young guests at the Losar parties.