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Tibet Oral History Project: Interview with Gelong on 6/30/2007

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Published on Jan 26, 2018

The interpreter's English translation provided during this interview is potentially incomplete and/or inaccurate. If you are not fluent in Tibetan, please refer to the interview transcript for the complete and correct English translation. Read the interview transcript in English at http://tibetoralhistory.org/Interview...

** This interview about life in Tibet was conducted by the Tibet Oral History Project. This non-profit organization aims to preserve the history and culture of the Tibetan people by interviewing elderly Tibetan refugees about life in Tibet before and after the Chinese invasion. Learn more at http://www.TibetOralHistory.org.

** Interview Summary: When he was a child in Tibet, Gelong's family owned a huge herd of sheep and fierce dogs to guard them from wolves. Gelong had the difficult responsibility of grazing the animals in the mountains, often separated from his family for extended periods of time. He recalls the beautiful animals like lynx, gazelles and wild asses that used to roam in Tibet. Once, as a young boy, when Gelong (originally named Namgyal Tenzin) grew sick, his family consulted a lhapa 'medium.' The lhapa believed Gelong to be a reincarnated lama and renamed him "Gelong," a name typically reserved for high lamas. Then he recovered from the illness. After the Chinese came to his village, Gelong's family was subjected to the thamzing 'struggle sessions' initiated by the Chinese on Tibet's wealthy and influential families. Gelong relives those sad moments when the Chinese turned his family out of their house and confiscated their assets. He also talks about his experience of forced labor under Chinese rule; Gelong had to help build roads. When the road work was completed he returned to his village, only to find that his family had fled to India. He soon he followed them and helped to build his settlement in India.

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