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Jetsun Pema to be honoured with Pearl S. Buck award

Jetsun Pema with Tibetan children in an undated photo (Photo/Randolph)

By Tenzin Nyidon

DHARAMSHALA, Oct 18: Jetsun Pema, recognised as the “Mother of Tibet” and the younger sister of His Holiness the 14th Dalai Lama, is set to receive the prestigious Pearl S. Buck Award, The Randolph announced on October 12.  She will be honoured with the award on April 18, 2024 in recognition of her lifelong dedication to the education of Tibetan children in exile and her instrumental role in the success of the Tibetan Children’s Village (TCV), one of the most successful Tibetan institutions in exile.

The Pearl S. Buck Award, presented by Randolph College, is a prestigious accolade given to women who embody the ideals, values, and commitments of Pearl S. Buck, a distinguished alumna of Randolph College and the first American woman to receive the Nobel Prize for Literature. Organisers said Jetsun Pema’s selection for the Randolph College’s Pearl S. Buck Award is a well-deserved recognition of her unwavering commitment to the betterment of Tibetan children’s lives and the preservation of Tibetan culture. Randolph College also plans to showcase a new documentary about Jetsun Pema’s life, providing a comprehensive view of her tireless dedication to the education and welfare of Tibetan children.

In expressing the decision to award Jetsun Pema with the Pearl S. Buck Award, President Sue Ott Rowlands said, “We are so honoured to award Jetsun Pema with the Pearl S. Buck Award this year for her advocacy and support of the children’s villages in Tibet. I cannot think of a more worthy recipient given Pearl S. Buck’s dedication to children and education in China.”

Born in 1940 in Lhasa, the capital of Tibet, Jetsun Pema’s educational journey began with studies in Switzerland and England. In 1964, she returned to India and assumed responsibility for the TCV school in Dharamshala. Beyond her responsibilities at TCV, in 1970, she was selected as the vice president of the Tibetan Youth Congress. In 1984, at the first General Body Meeting of the Tibetan Women’s Association, she was elected as an adviser. In 1980, she was sent by the Dalai Lama to visit Tibet as the leader of the third Fact-Finding Delegation for three months. Jetsun Pema made history in 2001 when she became the first woman elected to the post of minister in the Tibetan Parliament-in-Exile. She assumed the role of Minister for Education, overseeing and shaping educational policies and initiatives for the Tibetan diaspora

She has also been the recipient of numerous international awards, including the World’s Children’s Prize for the Rights of the Child (Sweden), the Woman of Courage Award, the Maria Montessori Award in Italy, and a UNESCO Medal, as well as the prestigious Nari Shakti Puraskar award given by the Indian government to individual women or institutions that work toward the cause of women’s empowerment.