Drikung Acharya Nuns Leadership Fellowship

The first year of the Tibetan Himalayan Fellowship Program with Acharya Yeshe was blessed by HH Drikung Kyabgon Chetsang Rinpoche and supported by the US Drikung Foundation and numerous donors

Listen to Acharya’s Dharma talk”Taming the Mind” in English, after a year in our Leadership Program for Tibetan Himalayan Nuns

The Tibetan/Himalayan Nuns Leadership Program is a year-long Fellowship for Drikung Nuns, based at Vajra Dakini in Portland, Maine that provides skills for international leadership and the empowerment of Tibetan Buddhist nuns as they lead their nunneries into the future. 

The Leadership Program was developed by theAcharya nuns at Samtenling Nunnery (DKI) in India,with Khenmo Drolma, Abbess of Vajra DakiniNunnery (Samtenling’s affiliate in Falmouth, Maine)and Mrs. Taklha, former Director of SamtenlingNunnery, and advisors from multiple centers. Thisprogram is designed to benefit the over 100 nuns ofDrikung Samtenling. Each year a Fellow is selectedto spend a year in the United States, undergoing acourse of study designed to strengthen her skills anddevelop new areas of interest. She then agrees to present a workshop to her fellow nuns upon he rreturn, and to use her new skills to benefit Samtenling for at least 3 years after her residency.

The first Fellow in the program is Acharya Ani Yeshe. A graduate of the rigorous 9-year philosophyprogram at Samtenling, Acharya Yeshe is on the teaching faculty there, and guides the youngestnuns. Acharya’s work began at Vajra Dakini’s Liberation House, where she was immersed in Englishlanguage and computer classes in Portland. Throughout the year, Acharya has continued her studies,assisted in Dharma classes and interfaith activities, visitedother nunneries in the United States, and participated infurther training modules in Iowa and New York.

As her yearhere draws to a close,Acharya is workingwith Khenmo to explore the full potential of the program,and to create a plan for sharing her newly-acquiredknowledge and skills with her sister nuns at Samtenling andbeyond.

As the Acharya nuns assess current and future goals, wetailor the program to prepare them with additional skills,which may include education programs, hospice work,small medical clinics, book-publishing, and GoGreenprojects. Many of the challenges experienced at Samtenlingare also being faced by other nunneries in India, thus theknowledge and skills gained here, will have an even widerapplication.

Empowering nuns with 21st century skills

The areas of interest and study may include:

  • Intensive English and computer classes
  • Participation in the Western Buddhist Monastic Gathering and Sakyadita, the International Buddhist Women’s Organization with assistance in preparing and presenting a paper for the annual Conference
    • hospice
    • small medical clinics
    • publishing books
    • GO Green projects

This program is designed to empower the 100 nuns of the Drikung Samtenling Nunnery. Like their brothers, the monks who serve internationally, they are essential as future leaders in the Drikung Kagyu lineage.

The first year of the fellowship in the United States will contain beneficial studies, skill building and a major exploration of the full potential of the fellowship.  Each fellowship year will focus on a project defined by the visiting nun with the team of experts to clearly define acquisition of skills that can affect both the younger nuns and the new graduates. Over time, the full population of the nunnery would benefit from the studies acquired during the fellowship.  As  the Acharya nuns assess current and future goals, we will tailor the program to prepare them with skills. Many of the challenges at Samtenling are also being faced by other monasteries and nunneries in India, thus the skills of the Fellow could have a very wide application.

As the first Fellow in the Acharya Nuns Leadership program, Acharya Ani Yeshe will spend 4 to 6 months at Vajra Dakini Nunnery Samtenling’s affiliate in in Maine. She is an Acharya or graduate of the rigorous philosophy program at Samtenling. Currently she is on their teaching faculty, working with the youngest nuns. Arriving in August 2018, her work will begin at VDN’s Liberation House in Portland, Maine, where she will be immersed in English language education, assist in Dharma classes and interfaith activities and visit other nunneries as she refines her individual Fellowship project. This year, we will emphasize planning, team building working with interfaith groups and development of training modules. Following her residency in Maine, she will attend month long training modules in Florida, Iowa and New York.  These modules will be coordinated by individual experts and or centers in various cities during her visit.

Your donation will go directly for her travel and support. Vajra Dakini is a 501c3 and all donations are tax deductible.  VDN will post a financial report on this program annually and you will be able to follow her activities on VDN’s Facebook page. Our draft budget includes:

  • Travel to the US and centers offering training, travel to significant buddhist nunneries
  • Health insurance
  • Small monthly stipend for the Fellow’s personal expenses
  • Visa expenses
  • Contribution to hosting centers if budget permits
  • Participation in Sakyadhita, International Buddhist Women’s Conference if budget permits