India, Summer 2012
I spent the summer of 2012 in Dharamsala, India, as a TFI fellow working at the Tibetan Centre for Human Rights and Democracy (“TCHRD”). Even in spite of the monsoon, I fell in love with Mcleod Ganj and the Tibetan community that lives there. Everyone was extremely friendly, kind, and active in promoting universal peace and respect. The landscape was picturesque, and I reveled in its beauty each day during my walks to and from the office. I loved it so much that I ended up changing my flight to extend my stay.
My experience working at TCHRD was one I will never forget. The staff embraced me as family, always inquiring as to my wellbeing, and even bringing me breakfast on occasion! I thought I knew about the Tibetan cause before I went to Dharamsala, but upon my arrival I soon realized my knowledge on the subject was extremely limited. The others at TCHRD were extremely knowledgeable, and were patient when explaining Tibetan and Chinese issues with which I was not familiar. I was charged with the task of writing two Special Reports for TCHRD: one on enforced disappearances and one on religious repression, both in Tibet. By the end, I was an expert on both topics, and relished in every opportunity to share my new expertise with anyone who would listen (or at least pretend to listen). I even discussed the issues with a monk who was extremely impressed with the extent of my knowledge. We later exchanged English language lessons for Buddhist philosophy lessons.
The number one thing I took away from the experience was that there was a lack of information provided to the general public regarding the Tibetan cause. My biggest hope was that I would continue to impart the important information to encourage a better understanding of the Tibetan issues. I am very proud of my reports, which will both be bound and published. The work I did for TCHRD was inspiring, and when it was finished I was only further encouraged to pursue a career in international human rights. I am so grateful to TFI for the opportunity.