One Week Until Departure

Hello and Tashi Delek.

I hope you are all well and remember if this is an e-mail just click on the title and go directly to the blog site.

I first want to recognize some very generous folks that have assisted in the donation of clothing items. Thank you to the following clothing donors.

The Suttles, The Pledgers, The Andersons, The Mitchners, and The Jacksons.

From these 5 households we generated over 100 lbs of clothing which is a lot of children’s clothing and a small amount of adult clothing. Thank you so much for your generosity.

The limit has been reached for the shipping and therefore no more clothing items can be received at this time. I would like to thank Sharon (Mom)  and David Hoover for their generous contribution for payment of shipping. The freight is very expensive so extra baggage on the airplane is the best option. I am going to look like I brought the kitchen sink when I arrive at baggage claim in Delhi.

There is still opportunity for any teachers who would like to donate Dry Erase Pens for the educational facility at Lha. If you can donate dry erase pens please just drop them at my home or e-mail me at     or

Financial donations are always welcome but please notify me first at the e-mail listed above and I will explain who to make the check out to and how to contribute. Anyone interested in dropping off pennies jars for donations just leave them at my back door or e-mail me.

NO DROP OFF DONATIONS can be received after Wednesday Feb. 11th.

Thank you again for your generous contributions, your prayers, and especially your continued efforts to support the Tibetan cause.

Please keep an eye out and visit the links on the left-side especially Tibetspace and Phayul where you will find current information about issues in Tibet.

Kind regards,



The Beauty and the Beast

Tashi Delek (Hello)

Well some of you may be wondering why I have not posted recently and all I can say is I have been very busy trying to take it all in. I have become aware of the increased need for cultural competence in order to proceed on the global social work path. I will explain more in detail below but first I want to share some of the delightful scenery of the area.

While the TEXT group was here from the University of Arkansas we took a hike to Triund which is at 2900m/ 9570 ft. McLeod is at 5841 ft so it is quit a climb. Of course all the students who made the trek went to the top but me. Unfortunately I was not able to make the entire trek up but instead was blessed with the presence of my teacher Geshe la Dorjee and his friend Gyurmey who trekked at a slower rate with me. I was so glad they were along because I was very concerned of holding back the group knowing that I was not in shape to be able to keep up. After stopping at the half way point and resting we went a little further up the mountain and I found a great boulder to perch myself on as the two monks went a little further up. This was a great time for me to sit and reflect on the time spent with the TEXT group and think about the amazing experience we were provided on this new study abroad program sponsored by the U of A. As I have written we encountered some incredible people and places. There are photos on my photobucket page of some of the beautiful scenery even though it was cloudy most of the hike. It was an unusual feeling sitting on the boulder by myself as a cloud encompassed me and I had little visibility. I just thought you might enjoy seeing the photos.

Then click on slide show…………..

Now I want to share with you some of the social work perspectives from my internship. As I mentioned before I was given the task of continuing research of the Drapchi nuns that are ex-political prisoners and their current situation in exile. After first doing some online research and discovering that there were two currently in India. I found them at Gu Chu Sum which is an agency that assists the ex-political prisoners. When traveling with the TEXT group we had an interview with the General Secretary of Gu Chu Sum of whom I contacted and inquired about the two nuns. He arranged for me to interview the two of them last week and yesterday. Their stories are compelling and very sad to know they have and still suffer so greatly due to the repressive ways of the Communist Chinese who restrict the freedom of speech and religion.

They spoke of their efforts to speak out in support of freedom of religion, in support of the Dalai Lama and for a free Tibet. Rigzen Choekyi was put in prison for a total of twelve years for participating in a peaceful protest and part of the term was an extended sentence due to her involvement in composing songs in prison with other nuns. One of the other ex-political prisoners, Lhundup Sangmo, who was a nun that also participated in peaceful protests in support of basic Human Rights, was imprisoned for a total of nine years. She also was a part of the group composing songs in prison that received an extended sentence. This is how they got their name as the “Drapchi 14 singing nuns”.

Both women spoke of their personal experiences enduring such treatments as being hung and beaten as they were requested to denounce their religion and beliefs. They spoke of the harsh conditions in the Chinese prison and the way in which they suffered physically and psychologically. They both spoke of mostly being fed bread and tea but when they were provided vegetables they were covered with human waste. They spoke of the human waste from the buckets in their jail cells used for growing vegetables and the visibility that the food provided had not been washed. One of the women said they were forced to eat it this way and since they were starving it became necessary for them to eat, even though it made them sick. They both spoke of the decline in health due to the conditions in which they survived for many years. Both still suffer today from such things as physical disabilities and psychological distress. Both women need health treatment for such things as pain management and kidney failure. Some of the psychological effects they struggle with today are lack of memory and the inability to learn due to lack of concentration. They spoke of the inability to sleep, bad dreams, increased anger, lack of trust and social phobias. As one of them told her story she struggled to hold back tears. She lost her composer and tears began to flow as she expressed her concern for the Tibetans that are currently being held as political prisoners by Chinese forces. We took a moment of silence before continuing with the interview and discussing what Buddhism means to her today. They both still hold Buddhism as an important spiritual aspect of their life and although they do not wear the red robes of nuns they consider themselves to be Buddhist nuns inside. When they were released from prison in 1999 and 2002 they were prevented from returning to the nunnery and faced many difficulties in the country. Their decision to escape into exile was in hopes of finding a life with some freedoms.

I wanted to share a few of these details with you as the women have great desire to tell their stories to the world. They ask for the continued support of the global community to create awareness of the human rights concerns in Tibet due to the Chinese occupation of Tibet. For more information on the efforts of the Gu Chu Sum Movement please visit their website:

Also I would like to continue the efforts of the Pennies for Partnerships fund raising and anyone interested in sending a donation can e-mail me at or and I will inform you of how to contribute. At this time I would like to focus my efforts on developing a contribution for the ex-political prisoners at Gu Chu Sum. The organization provides such things as basic needs and educational programs to assist the victims.

There are photos of two Tibetan women and myslef and individual photos of these ladies. They provided me permission to display these photos and if you want more details to the interview feel free to request it by contacting me via e-mail and it may be possible for me to e-mail you the transcription. Their stories are very compelling and as I mentioned they want to share it with the world.

Thank you for your continued support for the Tibetan cause. Your contributions and prayers are much needed and appreciated.

Thu-je-chhe (thank you),


Once again I appreciate you overlooking any typos and errors for I post without editing.

Learning About the Tibetan Culture

Tashi Delek (Hello)

It has been almost a week since I posted last and I apologize for the delay. I have been taking some time to get acquainted with the area and the new responsibilities of my internship. I will try to back track and give you a review of the things that have happened since last week.

I have a Tibetan man that I am working with to develop his ability for conversational English. The Tibetans have a very strong desire to learn English as well as practice the language every opportunity that comes their way. So my teacher at the University of Arkansas arranged to work with someone he knows. We get together almost everyday and work on conversation. In one week I have been approached by at least five Tibetans asking if I can teach them. Unfortunately with working at least 9 hours a day at the Tibetan Women’s Association for my internship it is difficult to take on anymore than the one student I already have. There of course some great organizations here which focus on teaching English. So I have also encouraged my student Tashi to enroll in the English classes at Louisiana Himalayan Association (LHA) for the daytimes when I am at my internship. LHA is a social work initiative with an affiliation to Tulane University in Louisiana. The man that I met at the agency is Neil and he holds a MSW from Tulane. For more information on LHA you can visit the website at

On Thursday June 26th I was invited to attend a cultural event of a spiritual and political leader H.H. Gyalwang Karmapa. This was a very special invitation as it provides the insight to the spiritual values of the Buddhist culture. The Karmapa is said to be the third most important leader of the Tibetan people. The Karmapa recently spent time in the US and is highly regarded by Tibetans of the monastic community and also lay community. The day started with a ceremony at Gyuto Monastery and then moved to another monastery approximately two hours from Gyuto. First at Gyuto Monastery they served lunch to everyone who attended after a prayer session in the morning. In the picture you will see a lot of shots from the road because our taxi driver decided to take a short cut which allowed us to meet up with the Karmapa’s entourage and travel the rest of the way in his entourage. This was actually a lot of fun.

It was very exciting to see all the faces of the communities as we passed through many small villages on the way. I also had an opportunity to see the respect of the Indian communities as they bowed and showed respect to the Karmapa as he drove by. When we arrived at Drubten Pedme Gyeypai Gatsal Institute, another monastery, the nuns, monks and lay people welcomed him with cultural banners and music as they lined the walk way. It was very much a pomp and circumstance that you would see when someone like the president or the pope arrived in the US except obviously different cultural acknowledgments.

Everyone moved into the prayer hall where they participated in prayer and chants. Then they served rice and tea to everyone and H.H. the Karmapa addressed the crowd with thanks. There was about an hour break and then everyone reconvened for a two hour teaching from the leader. His talk was focused on the importance of choosing a teacher. This talk was very good but when speaking with my friends from the monastery Gyurmey and Pasang they commented that it was an easy teaching. I think because there were so many foreigners present he may have kept it more simple. I was most surprised when the Karmapa asked for the foreigners to come forward to receive a gift from him. What an amazing experience. Keep in mind this is someone the Dalai Lama looks to possibly take over for a time period when he passes on.

After the teaching there was cake served outside the prayer hall to all the attendees. The entertainment provided was from Taiwanese group who gave song and dance in honor of the Karmapa’s birthday. I learned that usually there would be Tibetan dance and music but due to the conditions in Tibet this is a year of mourning. This is a very important subject- the Tibetan people are not celebrating any of the traditions as usual because of the hundreds of lives that have been lost in Tibet this year since March 10th. The situation in Tibet is grave and many Tibetans have been killed for speaking out for freedom of religion, and other basic human rights. In addition there are hundreds maybe thousands that have been imprisoned since March 10th as political prisoners. They are faced with horrible conditions in the Chinese prisons and they need the global community to support the concerns of human rights violations.

Tomorrow I will be interviewing nuns from the “Drapchi 14” which is a group known as the singing nuns. This is the current project I am working on for the Tibetan Women’s Association. In conjunction with the TEXT project I have compiled a number of questions for the interview that will focus on their life in Tibet and their life in exile. I hope to provide more details to this project as it progresses.

On Saturday June 28th I had the privilege to participate in a leadership workshop sponsored by the Tibetan Women’s Association. This workshop focused on the empowerment of women. The presenters were two amazing US citizens Ambassador John McDonald and Dr. Eileen Borris. All I can say is WOW I had no idea I would be sitting in a room with such quality leaders from the US and also from the Tibetan community. First I would like to give a little information on Ambassador John McDonald. He is a US diplomat first appointed by President Jimmy Carter. He has worked in UN affairs and is a major peace keeper. He has been working all over the world as a conflict resolution specialist. Ambassador McDonald has been working on a project known as the Institute for Multi-Track Diplomacy for over sixteen years. For more information please visit the website at

At the workshop there was diversity in representation from western countries as well as many women leaders of the Tibetan community. It was such a great experience and the workshops dealt with qualities make a good leader. Also in the afternoon the workshop switched topics and dealt with Trauma, Healing and Reconciliation. It was at this time that the discussion opened up for the women to share their personal experiences of trauma and how they have dealt with it in their lives. I heard stories of the long journey over from Tibet and what emotions were experienced as a young child that felt abandoned because their parents sent them into exile. It was also addressed that their spiritual development was the means in which brought them comfort and understanding of why their parents sent them to India. I also heard a young women talk about how one time the local India population became outraged at the Tibetan community and broke into their homes. The main discussion presented by Dr. Borris is the importance of telling your story and having it heard. The steps to healing start with telling the story. It made me think about how important it is to sit and listen to the Tibetans tell about their time in Tibet, their escape and the hardships they endured in getting to India and also their longing for a return to their family and home in Tibet. I believe that I am right where I am called to be with regards to my future as a social worker in the global community. My first lesson is to sit and listen to the people and then try to give a place for their stories to be heard.

I would like to thank you all for your time in reading about their stories and your continued support for the Tibetan cause. Please check out the photos on the photobucket site to see the cultural celebration and also the pictures of the magnificent women that attended the leadership workshop.


Also a big thanks to the Tibetan Women’s Association and all the Tibetans for their time in sharing with me.

Thu jeche (thank you),


As always thanks for overlooking any typos or grammar errors.