Hosted by JT Crowley
Join The Smart Kids each week as they explore, discover and use their problem solving skills to change the world. They are resourceful, compassionate and determined to tackle whatever challenge lies ahead. From New Zealand, to Russia, Oman, USA and South America, The Smart Kids are a tapestry of global cultures with unique talents. You’ll hear their strategies and get to know them as they reveal their aspirations for fun, facts and living in the best possible world.
This intriguing and imaginative story is set against the backdrop of one of the most breath-taking places in the world, Tibet now known as The Tibetan Autonomous Region Of China. The story will take you to the roof of the world, across China to The Forbidden City in Beijing as well as across the Himalayas to Dharamshala in the Himachal Pradesh region of Northern India home to the 14th Dalai Lama.
This is the story of Yeshe my little Tibetan Buddhist boy, an eleven-year-old boy torn between the ancient customs of the Tibetan people to which his father follows and the modern ways of life that are endearing to him. Keeping with old Tibetan customs Yeshe’s father underhandedly agrees to send his son to the monastic life of being a Buddhist monk, but this is something the futuristic Yeshe opposes. He’s agreed to spend six months of the year living with his family following their nomadic ways on the high plateaus tending the yaks and goats, on the agreement he could spend the rest of the year in amongst the city lights of Lhasa learning all about the modern world.
To punish his father for his underhandedness, he escapes with the help of his Chinese friend Jinhai across China to The Forbidden City in Beijing. His brother tracks him down and he agrees to come home. Expecting retribution from his Lama for his actions he’s pleasantly surprised with his teacher’s suggestion of following in the footsteps of the Dalai Lama’s escape route disguised as a simple soldier on horse back across the Himalayas to India to hear from the Dalai Lama himself before deciding to become a Buddhist monk or to follow his dream to be an international human rights lawyer.
I was born on a warm summer’s evening to Irish immigrants. My father was born in Ireland under British rule, he kept British citizenship, which allowed him to join the British Royal Air Force and follow a career in aero engineering at Rolls Royce in Derby. My mother was actually born in Manhattan New York but after the tragic death of her father when she was just seven months old led her mother eventually having remarried several years later to return to Ireland, it was there on the wild west coastline my mother spent much of her childhood.
In August 1957 my parents married and settled in Derby where my brother and I along with our late sister grew up. On reflection we weren’t particularly financially well off but there again nor where the kids that we grew up with, so we were non the wiser. However my parents instilled in us to respect others and to do things with our lives that they weren’t able to do.
When I was at school I excelled in Geography looking at all the different places in the world. So I suppose it was that geographical background coupled with wanting to achieve things that my parents weren’t able to do so, that set me on my worldly travels.
The excitement of travel coupled with the allure of seeing different cultures especially the many facets of kid’s lives in those places in contrast to my own narrow childhood inspired me to write the book. I want kids to see beyond their own streets and their smartphones and I hope that when they’ve read the book they will start to see that different kids from dissimilar places in the world live and experience contrasting lives and some of those lifestyles can be defined as harsh. But above all I hope it inspires some of my young readers to follow in my footsteps and witness life in all its forms.
The one thing that I’ve learnt in life is that theory in itself is fine but putting that theory into a practical form like a book is somewhat different. I suppose what I’m trying to say here is having an idea for a book and actually writing it and promoting it to the public is a far cry from the initial notion. So what made me take the leap from the first mental pictures to transferring them to words on a page that kids and adults alike can read any where in the world, well that hawks back to my parents encouragement wanting me to achieve things they couldn’t.
As a child writing never came easy to me, and when I look back at some of the letters I wrote to my parents from boarding school I can only hang my head in shame. I suppose being a boy more interested with what was going on in the school playground rather than the classroom would lead my mother who was by then an English teacher to tearing her hair out, the look of despondency written on her face as she tried to get me to read a single page of a book only to hear me begrudgingly recite a page in front of her and asking having got to the end of the page, ”can I go now.” Little did I know then that not having the ability to read and write properly would set me back in life, something I later rectified. So kids you can change but go and see the world in all its beauty, and don’t forget respect all nations.