I was lucky enough to have the opportunity to spend my summer working with the Tibetan Centre for Human Rights and Democracy (TCHRD) in Dharamshala, India. The Tibet issue was a topic that I was very unfamiliar with prior to coming to India. Living in Dharamshala gave me the opportunity to be immersed in exile Tibetan culture. With the Dalai Lama Temple just a short ten-minute walk from my hotel, conversation cafes where you had the opportunity to chat with local monks (many of whom had made the trek to India over the Himalayas), and working with an organization that exudes confidence in their reporting of Tibetan rights in Tibet and in exile, I don’t believe there could have been a better way to learn about it.
At times working with the material was very difficult. There are many human rights atrocities that are occurring in Tibet that are very difficult to read; it was a lot to take in while working away on my laptop. The smiling faces of Tibetans from around Dharamshala (nicknamed ‘Little Lhasa’ after the capital of Tibet), whom my work would be impacting, and the encouragement from the highly educated staff at TCHRD was very helpful and acted as great motivation to write my report.
After three months of working at TCHRD I have learned a lot from my co-interns, research, and the amazing staff at the Centre. I was very surprised to find out the magnitude of the events in Tibet, and how little coverage Tibet gets in the western world. From knowing nothing about the subject when I arrived, I am now leaving with such a wealth of knowledge that I am able to talk to my friends and family on the phone for hours about what is going on in Tibet.
Being a Metis Plains woman, I am very familiar with the struggles of First Nations, Inuit, and Metis people in Canada. I found some general themes of my research on Tibet to be similar to those facing my people at home. Some of these themes included displacement, a strong will to preserve traditional culture, and having your land and rights taken away from you. Though the two situations are very different and distinct, I felt as though I was able to connect with the material on a deeper level with this understanding.
Bonding with the other interns at TCHRD was one of the highlights of my summer. I am happy to say that I have come out of the internship with four great new friends. I am very privileged to have had the opportunity to work at the Tibetan Centre for Human Rights and Democracy and am very grateful for the opportunity provided to me.