Oakton connects with Tibetan families

By Tim Hollenberg-Duffey

Smiling Tibetan people sitting at table
Photo courtesy of Oakton Church of the Brethren

In 2018, when Oakton Church of the Brethren in Vienna, Va., began a free tutoring program called Oakton Partners in Learning, some of the first families to connect were of Tibetan heritage. The connection strengthened when the program adapted to virtual tutoring during seasons of online learning.

Now back to gathering on Monday nights for one-to-one tutoring, the program is thriving and meeting a crucial need. Most of the 20 to 25 pupils are English learners.

On Dec. 12, 2022, the Tibetan families threw a “Gratitude Dinner” for the tutors, complete with momo and curries, thanking the church for the ministry. As one father said, “When we feel love and kindness . . . it helps us develop inner happiness and peace by his holiness the Dalai Lama, and indeed our kids feel loved and cared for at OPIL in special ways.” In addition to dinner, tutors were treated to music played on the traditional dramyin string instrument and were given khatas, which are long cloth stoles given on special occasions.

People wearing white stoles eating food
Tutors wearing khatas. Photo courtesy of Oakton Church of the Brethren

Oakton Partners in Learning was the direct result of a Brethren Faith in Action grant. Beyond meeting an educational goal, the program has established cross-cultural friendship, which might be its greatest gift.

This article originally appeared in Messenger. Subscribe to Messenger here.

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