Tenzin Geyche Tethong

Tenzin Geyche Tethong has been a trusted companion and aide to His Holiness, the 14th Dalai Lama, for over four decades. He shares a close relationship with His Holiness’ family, including his beloved late mother and youngest brother, Ngari Rinpoche.
Born in 1943 in Lhasa, Tethong first joined the Tibetan administrative service in 1961 before being deputed to the Private Office of His Holiness the Dalai Lama three years later. In these early years of the Tibetan government in exile, he was one of only three members of the Private Office of His Holiness—each of these young men worked furiously to establish efficient systems, write letters to world leaders to tell them of their plight, as well as cater to the needs of the enormous influx of Tibetans escaping to India. He served in the Private Office until retiring in 2008 as Secretary (English Section). As part of his role, Tethong worked as the Dalai Lama’s personal assistant and press liaison, accompanying him on several official international visits, including his meeting with Pope Paul VI at the Vatican in 1973, his historic first trip to America in 1979, and the Nobel Prize ceremony in Oslo in 1989. In addition, Tethong served as Tibet’s foreign minister and the minister of its Department of Information and International Relations, and also established its first Department of Health in the 1980s.

Tethong was also the first president of the Tibetan Youth Congress (TYC), having co-founded it alongside his brother and colleagues in 1970. TYC remains the largest non-governmental organization for the Tibetan diaspora community, with tens of thousands of members currently registered. Tethong’s brother, Tenzin Namgyal Tethong—former prime minister of Tibet and president of the Dalai Lama Foundation—is a Distinguished Fellow at Stanford University’s Tibetan Studies Initiative and was director of Radio Free Asia, a major US-government funded non-profit news service. He is a prominent member of the Tibetan community in the United States.

Under the guidance of His Holiness, Tenzin Geyche Tethong has played a key role in establishing a community in exile and has dedicated his life to the preservation of Tibetan culture. This is the first time that Tethong has written about his remarkable years as one of His Holiness’ closest aides.