This month we introduce Stephanie Lai, a member of Khyentse Foundation’s apprentice executive program. Stephanie is the daughter of Ding Nai Chu, a respected meditation instructor, and Stan Lai, one of Taiwan’s most renowned playwrights and filmmakers. She and her husband, photographer Pawo Choyning Dorji, and their daughter, Oddyanna, split their time between Taiwan and Bir, India. Stephanie studied at the London Academy of Drama and Music with a focus on acting. She has performed in several theatrical plays and television shows. Rinpoche appointed Stephanie to the executive apprentice program, which he established in 2010 to cultivate future leaders.
Since I was a little girl my parents hosted many lamas at our house so I actually met Rinpoche when I was a little kid, but I didn’t start studying the dharma with him until I was 22, which was the same year I heard about Khyentse Foundation. I remember being at Cangioli’s house in San Francisco 10 years ago when they were discussing starting the Foundation. At that time it sounded so enormous to me and so far removed from my own capabilities. Even back then I heard them talk about cultivating the next generation of leaders, but I didn’t think it pertained to me. Then last summer I attended my first Khyentse Foundation board meeting and was assigned to apprentice under Cangioli. This amazing experience really brought home to me that although what KF doing seems so far reaching, it is also achievable. It really opened my perception.
I think it is incredible of Rinpoche to create a group of young apprentices. Even though I have very limited experience of work like this, and I was surprised that he included me, I trust Rinpoche’s vision. Now it makes sense. Rinpoche is really thinking about cultivating the next generation. In fact, everything that Rinpoche and the Khyentse Foundation team are doing now seems to have far-reaching goals. They are thinking about preserving the dharma for centuries to come, and I will do whatever I can to help achieve Rinpoche’s wishes.
Photo: self-portrait of Stephanie and her husband Pawo.