India, Summer 2012
In addition to advancing the goals of a noble international NGO, working at TCHRD has been the opportunity to immerse myself in the Tibetan exile movement in India and be accepted as a valued member of their community. Dharamsala, and its predominately Tibetan suburb of Mcleod Ganj are rich in culture and the stories of exiled Tibetans. In addition to being the residence of many Tibetan exiles, the area is the seat of the Central Tibetan Administration and the home of His Holiness the Dalai Lama. Therefore, it is a wonderful place to gain in depth knowledge about life as a Tibetan refugee and to develop a greater passion to serve their cause. Their struggle has been an inspiration to me.
As a legal research fellow, I contributed to TCHRD’s annual report, the focus of which was the continuing arbitrary arrest and torture of Tibetans by the Chinese government. Having prior experience as a criminal defense attorney in San Francisco, I was eager to apply my existing research and writing skills on behalf of the Tibetan people. Navigating the Chinese legal system, including its myriad of codes and regulations, was a challenge that I embraced with enthusiasm. In addition to drafting reports, I visited the Tibetan Refugee Reception Center near Dharamsala to meet with newly arrived refugees from Tibet where I gained new insight into their struggle for freedom and justice as well as the abuses that they suffer at the hands of the Chinese government.
Living in Dharamsala was an experience that I will carry with me for the rest of my life. I intend to spread the knowledge and the stories of Tibet and its people in order that more will be aware of their cause. I am forever grateful to The Forgotten International for exposing me to the Tibetan struggle, and for giving me the chance to gain practical knowledge and experience in the field of international human rights advocacy. (Claire pictured with Tsering Tsomo, Executive Director of TCHRD).