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E L I Z A B E T H T O W N M A G A Z I N E • F A L L 2 0 1 1

T H E D E L L & WO R L D

Elizabethtown College is far from the Hima-layas—rising nearly 24,000 feet to the clouds.

Jamyang Gyaltsen crossed those majestic peaks to obtain liberty and, ultimately, to come to Elizabethtown. As a nomadic yak herder, he’d never held a pen, nor used a computer. Learning his country’s language in a Tibetan monastery was the only formal education he’d had. Now, four years later and more than 13,400 miles from home, he attends Elizabethtown as a first-year student. Switch gears to Cayla Kluver —the yin for Gyaltsen’s yang, if you will. Kluver connected online with Donna Talarico, web content editor in the College’s Office of Marketing and Communications. Talarico, who monitors social media, noticed Kluver’s college intention posting, and the two began a “Twittership.” Talarico told Kluver all about the creative opportunities at E-town. As a published young adult fantasy writer, with a trilogy available through Harlequin-TEEN, she chose Elizabethtown to “get out in the world, live a little and learn a lot.” Gyaltsen and Kluver perfectly illustrate the unique personality of the class of 2015. At 523 strong, the cohort boasts 16 interna-tional students from as far away as Bangladesh, Cambodia, Myanmar and Thailand; a few in the class hail from the West

Coast of the United States and nine grew up right here in E-town. At least 23 languages will be spoken as the crew settles into resi-dence halls, attends classes and learns about mysterious places like the Jay’s, BSC and the Caf. Among them, they’ll study in 44 majors.

Teaching in Tibet

Gyaltsen, an international business major, said he picked Elizabethtown because the farmland surrounding campus, reminded him of Tibet, where family members still live. Though the 19-year-old is thrilled to have a world of opportunities available to him, he misses his village in Shenzuo. To arrive in the United States, Gyalt-sen’s family didn’t just board a plane at the local airport. They sold their yaks and, to avoid gun-toting border patrols, they split up, hiding in caves, crossing the Himalayan Mountains on foot and swinging across dan-gerous rivers to arrive—safely—at a Nep-alese refugee camp, then in Dharamsala, India, where Gyaltsen met the Dalai Lama, exiled Tibetan spiritual leader. In 2006, Gyaltsen’s father arrived in India—“I did not see him since 2003,” the first-year student said—and after much red tape the family obtained visas. They settled in Westchester in upstate New York. “We came to America, and my whole life changed because of new people, language and culture,” he said.

Knowing zero English, Gyaltsen started ninth grade at Eastchester (N.Y.) High School. “I felt lost and sad at the beginning because I did not understand anything …,”

he said. “I did not have any friends and I began to miss my relatives. I felt I wanted to go back to Tibet.” But, Gyaltsen said, he got up at 5 a.m. to study and watched cartoons and read comic books to learn English. “Soon I could understand what most people were saying. My grades began to improve.” Gyaltsen, who graduated in May, was honored with the Albert Einstein Award for Outstanding Effort in Mathematics and the Best Effort in Chemistry Award.

His goal is to learn more English, get a degree and gain citizenship so he can re-turn to Tibet, build a school and teach. “I want to make my parents proud,” he said, “and fulfill their hope.”


From T i bet to Twi tter

Then and now: Gyaltsen (pictured, far left) as a young boy on the Himalayan Mountains, and today as an Elizabethtown College frst-year.

By the books

Cayla Kluver marches to a creative drum-mer. The 18-year-old author’s Elizabeth-town College application included two of her books—one written in Japanese. To attend orientation she loaded up the car with her mom and sister and drove 17 hours from Wisconsin—the land of “cows, beer and cheese.”

She wanted to attend a college on the East Coast for the historical appeal. “I love writing, particularly historical fantasy,” said Kluver, who draws her inspiration from everywhere—“tiny things that happen in everyday life, that for some reason you stop and look at differently.”

Her first book, “Legacy,” is about a princess in a patriarchal society with a love interest from a matriarchal society, which also happens to be the enemy empire. “What would a fantasy be without forbid-den love?” she asked.

Though Kluver, who counts P.D. James, Robert Louis Stevenson and Jodi Picoult as favorite authors and has books published in more than 17 countries, she has a “humon-gous interest in criminology and psychology. Surprisingly, the author plans to study crim-inal justice at Elizabethtown. The program, she said, was ranked “very highly.”

“E-town has me excited about new experiences.”

Cayla Kluver

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