In 1989, 14 year old Lama Jabb told his classmates in Malho County, Amdo, that he was going to one day study at Niujan (Oxford in Chinese). He said it simply because he had heard of a famous university named Niujin, in a place called England, and not because he had actual plans for attending Oxford.
His real plan was to escape to India to get an education with his cousin Gonpo Tsering, and his friend Lhamo Kyab. They accomplished their goal in time, and they were enrolled in a refugee school for adult students in Bir, India, run by the Tibetan government in exile. Being determined to receive the best education, Jabb then made a pledge to himself that he would not return to Tibet until he had received a master’s degree, which at the time he thought was the highest degree possible. Several years later, he has not only succeeded in keeping his pledge, but has gone on to even greater academic achievements than he had known possible.
In June, 2013, Lama Jabb, now 39, received his doctoral degree from Oxford, focusing on modern Tibetan literature, and soon afterwards, a fellowship to research Tibetan and Himalayan Studies at Wolfson College, Oxford.