Tibetans Preserve Culture in Exile in Switzerland

March 10, 2004

Source: Times of Tibet


On March 10, 2004 the Times of Tibet reported, "Today, the 3,000 members of the Tibetan community in Switzerland make it the largest in Europe, and the third largest in the world, after those in India and the US...the monastery [of Rikon] is...on the hill overlooking the village...The monastery was founded almost 40 years ago, with support from the Dalai Lama himself, to provide support for the growing Tibetan community in Switzerland. At first glance, the building has little of the East about it. It is a white concrete block standing on a steep slope graced by a multitude of prayer flags. A stupa, or Buddhist temple, nestles in the woods. Inside the block live eight Buddhist monks who teach meditation and Tibetan language, in addition to carrying out their religious duties...'Many [Tibetans] have acquired Swiss citizenship,' said Jampa [Tsering, who chairs the Swiss Tibetan community.] But links with Tibetan culture and traditions are still strong, especially among the elderly. 'Our community sponsors seven Tibetan schools around Switzerland, publishes a magazine and organises traditional celebrations,' he added. The aim is to preserve a language and culture that in Tibet, according to Jampa, are being watered down or disappearing owing to the stifling embrace of the Chinese."