Our new Principal at SMD School, Acharya Wangchuk Tenzin, started with us in April 2016, taking over for interim Principal, Lama Nyima Dorje. A former student of SMD, Wangchuk went on to higher Buddhist studies in ‘Shedra’ (monastic university) after he gained some management skills working in different parts of Thrangu Rinpoche’s organization. With his kind heart and his understanding and experience of Buddhist and secular studies, Wangchuk is ideally suited to lead SMD School. Read on to learn more about Wangchuk’s life:
Wangchuk Tenzin was born in 1986 and was tutored by Rinpoche’s niece, Tsering Dolma, for one year before enrolling in classes at SMD in 1995. In 1999 he became a novice monk and continued his studies, graduating Class 10 at SMD in March of 2007. While a student, Wangchuk played on the school basketball and football (soccer) teams and performed in various cultural dramas, including the yak dance! He was selected to attend the United World College human rights workshop in Dharmsala and chosen to speak to the assembly at TCV—Tibetan Children’s Villages.
As a Class 10 student, Wangchuk Tenzin participated in a special study of WWII, led by a volunteer. He concluded the student run presentation with his own speech. It began: “We have been talking about war—now I would like to talk about peace…” He was very inspirational in encouraging individual responsibility regarding aggression and patience.
After graduation, Wangchuk worked as an assistant to the manager of the monastery for a year and then completed a year in Ngondro retreat at Namo Buddha. He taught at SMD school for a few months before entering Shedra in 2008. During the course of his studies, he had a year break to travel with Thrangu Rinpoche as an attendant; he also served for several years on the Dedon Tsokpa or students welfare committee at VVI.
When Wangchuk became school principal last year, he had a few weeks of overlap with Lama Nyima Dorje but still felt a little worried about how he would manage. He says that Rinpoche advised, “Slowly—you can do.” He keeps in mind that Rinpoche says ‘one should study well and at the same time develop character and motivation, otherwise problems come in community’. Wangchuk recognizes this is the basis for his direction as a principal. As he thinks about it now, he feels that as a Shedra graduate he has a lot of potential to transfer his knowledge of the Dharma. In the future, he would like to teach a class for advanced students on how Buddhist science relates to modern science.
He observes that being a monk, his path is set and life is very simple, yet he can get distracted in the modern world too. His remedy? “Sit down and think of the reality of things––examine deeply and then there is freedom from attachment and life is satisfying.” Wangchuk would like to help make the school strong and help the children carry their life in a positive way.
(Bio first appeared in February 2017 issue of the Himalayan Children’s Fund News by Debra Ann Robinson-Menzies.)