Meet the Translators

Thanks to the generous participation of Lha Charitable Trust Director Ngawang Rabyal, the Snow Lion Storytelling Initiative hired a team of three young Tibetans interested in launching their careers as translators.

Kunchok Dargye, age 31, studies Buddhist philosophy at Namdroling Monastary in Karnataka, South West India. When he is not studying, Kunchok works at the monastery’s computer lab. He is excited about practising the new web design knowledge he acquired during a three-month-long course that just ended.

Kunchok translated Barbara Joose’s Papa, Do You Love Me? Set in southeastern Africa, the story’s drastically foreign vocabulary was a welcomed challenge. Terms like “birthright cow” or specialized features of nature that do not exist in Tibet, like underground “hidden streams,” were especially difficult to capture in Tibetan. As a monk, Kunchok patiently wrestled with the book’s leitmotiv “I will teach you,” as the profound connotations that the word teaching has in the Tibetan language would confuse readers.

The project could not have been realized without Kunchok’s infinitely resourceful knowledge.

Khawabu Lobsang Tgupten, age 28, recently graduated from the three-month-long Intensive Translation Course offered at the Library of Tibetan Works and Archives in Dharamsala. A graduate of SOS (“Save Our Souls”) Tibetan Children’s Village, Gopalpur, Lobsang also has a degree in Tibetan literature from the College for Higher Tibetan Studies at Sarah, near Dharamsala.

Lobsang translated Barbara Joose’s Mama, Do You Love Me? and Salina Yoon’s Penguin and Pinecone. An efficient and enthusiastic worker, Lobsang swiftly overcame the challenge of translating the specialized vocabulary of Alaska and Inuit culture. Translating onomatopoeias like “achoo!” for sneezing and “whoosh!” in Penguin and Pinecone brought the group together for highly entertaining cross-cultural brainstorming.

Lobsang’s ease with moving from one language to the other provided precious insights for all the SLSI translations.

Learn more about the Library of Tibetan Works and Archives here.

Tsering Damdul, age 24, recently graduated from the same program as Lobsang at the Library of Tibetan Works and Archives. Together they came to McLeod Ganj to better their English at Lha Charitable Trust.

Born in Thoae, Tibet, Damdul arrived in India in 1996. After living twelve years at the Tibetan Homes Foundation, a “registered charitable institute dedicated in working for the care of orphan, semi orphan and destitute Tibetan refugee children,” Damdul went on to study English literature at Loyola College in Chennai, the capital city of the Tamil Nadu state in the southeastern region of the Bay of Bengal.

Talented with languages, Damdul translated Stellaluna and The Mountain That Loved a Bird. His work with the Snow Lion Storytelling Initiative is his first job out of school. He sees this project as an opportunity to give back to his community as well as launch his career as a translator. Damdul is particularly interested in the readers. Paying close attention to the appropriate language level of Tibetan for the translated version of these books, Damdul sought to translate the stories in accessible Tibetan while preserving the author’s poetic style. “You have to keep in mind the psychology of the child,” Damdul pointed out the first time we met.

Damdul’s mastery of English was invaluable for the Snow Lion Storytelling Initiative.

Read more about the Tibetan Homes Foundation (THF) here.


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