20th Anniversary Gala
On Saturday, March 25, 2017, during the tenth international symposium on Buddhist Studies, RYI hosted a gala event to celebrate twenty years of offering students the chance to deepen their understanding of Buddhist philosophy, languages, and practice. The event began soon after that day’s final talk, with canapés and a cash bar on the patio outside the ballroom, and featured live music from RYI student Chloé van der Lek, faculty member Miguel Sawaya, and friends from the Kathmandu Jazz Conservatory. Everyone enjoyed the opportunity to meet and talk with the symposium speakers and other attendees.
After the performance, a three-course sit-down dinner served in the ballroom featured a main course of either wood-fired spring chicken in a mustard and herb sauce or roasted pumpkin ricotta tortellini in saffron cream. During dinner, RYI staff presented a special video of Chokyi Nyima Rinpoche’s activities and a slideshow featuring alumni images and quotes about their experience studying at RYI. Then, Chokyi Nyima Rinpoche and others commented on RYI’s twenty-year history inspiring attendees about the next twenty years.
Alumni, donors, current students, and others connected with RYI and Rinpoche’s activities are the reason RYI has reached this significant milestone. Given the global and transnational nature of RYI’s community, the opportunity to celebrate together is rare. Thus, we were thrilled that so many were able to join us for the evening of reflection and gratitude .
About RYI’s History
In 1997, Rangjung Yeshe Institute began offering classes to those interested in the study and practice of Buddhism. Initially, students spent four months each year attending classes to develop and deepen their knowledge and understanding of the major philosophical texts of the Nyingma tradition. Classes were small, with khenpos teaching texts from Shantideva and Gampopa with the support of skilled English translators. These classes were some of the first opportunities for Westerners and local lay people to study directly with monastic scholars trained in depth in Buddhist philosophy. Students also studied Tibetan language, learning both to read the traditional texts and speak to Tibetans in the community.
After running courses successfully for five years, RYI, through an agreement with Kathmandu University, incorporated the Centre for Buddhist Studies in 2001. Students could now earn academic credit and an internationally recognized Bachelor’s degree by studying year-round. The BA program added an emphasis on the study of the modern academic perspective with the aim to help students mature as scholar-practitioners.The inaugural class graduated in 2005, paving the way for others to follow. And indeed they have! The number of programs has expanded to twelve, while continuing RYI’s emphasis on academic rigor and student satisfaction. Currently, there are more than 200 students on campus each year from over thirty countries and RYI’s diverse alumni base comprises over 1,300 former students.