Training programme succeeds in helping nuns to fulfil their potential:
A Report on the second Tibetan Nun's Leadership Program

The Tibetan Women’s Association (TWA) led the second Tibetan Nuns’ Leadership Programme in a bid to carry out the wishes of His Holiness the Dalai Lama, who has called for nuns to gain confidence - and believe in their ability to make a difference.

Held in the south Indian nunnery of Jangchub Choeling, Mundgod, Karnataka (South India), the five-day training course, from April 26 to April 30, 2010, was organized by TWA in conjunction with Science Meets Dharma, Switzerland (an Institute which aims to provide monks and nuns in Tibetan monasteries in India with access to scientific education).

The course was attended by 22 nuns from Jangchub Choeling after nun Yeshi Sangmo, who came to the first course in 2009, told TWA that she felt the other members of her nunnery would benefit from the training. The programme was led by TWA’s joint Secretary, Tenzin Dolma and Program Coordinator, Nyima Lhamo. The opening ceremony was attended by Khen Rinpoche Kunchok Thapgye of Jangchub Choeling nunnery, Mr. Palden, Settlement Officer and Vice President of the Regional Tibetan Youth Congress, both of whom gave speeches encouraging nuns to take advantage of the opportunities for training and education.

The program focussed on the basic leadership concepts like team management, self concept, SWOT technique, communication skills, goal setting, visualisation, leadership qualities, river of life – sharing ones inner stories through drawing, mind games and documentary screenings. A half day session on gender empowerment looked into the differences between gender and sex, gender stereotyping, gender socialisation through practical exercises. Group discussions, brain-storming exercises and public speaking formed a large part of the programme, with the aim of building up the nuns’ communication skills. They were also able to share their own personal stories and half a day was dedicated to the exploration of gender issues, something which TWA felt it was essential to discuss openly. Every evening saw a documentary screening, followed by a debate session. The films included Lhamo Tso – Behind the Sea and Dispatches – Undercover to Tibet , which stirred emotional and patriotic reactions. A biographical account of ‘Gyalyum Chenmo – The Great mother’ had the nuns moved to tears. A short documentary, Are We Ready for 2011, made by TWA executive Dhardon Sharling and friends, focused on the significant upcoming Kalon Tripa election. This film helped the nuns to realize that it is their duty as Tibetan citizens to exercise their right to vote, and to call for a transparent election process.

On the final day, each nun was videotaped in order to evaluate themselves on everything from the way they speak to their body language – they used the skills they had learned during the four previous days to deliver some very impressive presentations.

In the feedback session, a number of nuns revealed that they had been frightened at the sound of the words ‘workshop’ and ‘training’ and that they had tried to avoid joining the programme. However, by the end of the course they said that they fully understood the benefits it could offer and expressed their wish to attend more in the future. TWA is delighted at this positive response. The nuns were also given feedback forms which showed that the sessions on goal setting, gender empowerment and the short documentary on Kalon Tripa were the most popular.