Gaining Cultural Competence

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Gaining Cultural Competence….

Tashi Delek and Hello

Please remember to click on the title of this post and you will go directly to the blog where there are compelling photos and more.

So there has been quite a delay since I posted and much has happened here in the Tibetan community. First I have to say much cultural competence has been gained in the last two in half weeks. First there was the Losar (No Losar) which is the Tibetan New Year. I had the opportunity to engage in some of the annual delights as I mentioned in the previous posts. It is much like our Christmas/New Year although from my understanding I missed a lot of their traditions due to the campaign which I hope you understand is a way of expressing civil disobedience since the Communist Chinese are trying to force Tibetans to celebrate. They chose not to celebrate this year because of the many Tibetans (estimated number over 200) who died last year during the uprising.

There was a special meeting of all the top Buddhist leaders from the different religious sects so all the very important and high lamas were in town( I was unable to take my camera in without a media pass so there are no photos of the events attended by the Dalai Lama ). This could be compared to something similar to Bishops and Cardinals of the Catholic Church gathering for special religious meetings. During this time there is also the celebration of Monlam which is known as The Great Prayer Festival. Since Buddhism is so prevalent in the Tibetan culture large crowds participate in the events/prayer sessions. There was one day in which the Dalai Lama gathered with all the leaders, monastic community and the public for a special prayer to honor those who have died in Tibet.

Then there was a special prayer on March 9th that was considered a long life prayer for the Dalai Lama. These events are very special and I am so happy to have been able to experience and learn more about this time of the year in the Tibetan culture. To learn more about Monlam do a search online.

Following Losar and Monlam is the historical day of the 50th anniversary of the Tibetan uprising. In 1959 after many years of Communist Chinese invasion a large population joined together to protect their spiritual leader the Dalai Lama. They feared what the Chinese would do to him. When the Chinese invaded Tibet there was much blood shed and since then has been oppressive conditions of Tibetans. Last year as Tibetans attempted to exercise freedom of expression the Chinese military cracked down on Tibetans. Violence broke out although there skepticism as to who was actually responsible for the initial outbreak. The Tibetan people have endured horrible conditions in the past year due to a strike hard campaign by the Communist Chinese Government. They have had controlled movement in the country, monitored phone calls, restricted media and the Chinese government has even closed the country to foreign travelers and journalists.

Photobucket I would like to challenge you all to think about something… If the Chinese Government has nothing to hide regarding human rights in Tibet then why do they NOT allow journalists in to report the truth of what is going on. If the truth will not hurt the Communist Chinese and they journalists would not find human rights violations then why the restrictions on media? Why is the country closed to foreign travelers if there is nothing to hide? Why the increased military presence and the strike hard campaign if the Tibetans are being provided their basic human rights? These are all questions we need to be asking as well we need to be pressing for answers. For a more specific historical review go to the following link

I have one more concern for you to consider…If we as a nation in the United States value our freedoms why do we not think others should also have the same rights? If the Chinese Government continues to bail us out of our debts as a country we should be concerned for our future. The Communist Chinese Government is very powerful and gaining more power in the world sometimes through trade agreements and economic bailouts.

chinese speaker This past week I had the opportunity to hear three Chinese speakers who are supportive of the Tibetan cause. The Chinese speakers express their concern not only for the human rights violations of Tibetans but for the entire Chinese population.

I plead with you to give consideration to why more than 100,000 Tibetans have fled into exile and why there are so many in Tibet that would like to still get out. How can we hear their voice if we do not listen to those in exile who are trying to help a voice that has been silenced to be heard by the International Community? It is our responsibility as free people to hear the cry of those who are not free. Here is a recent write up of the efforts of our government to assist and I commend Congress.

There is a recent movie out titled “Murder in the Snow”. It was filmed by some climbers who witnessed the murder of a Tibetan while on the escape route. I urge you if you can find it to watch it.

Prime Minister Samdong Rinpoche speaks in the YouTube video above. He is the political leader of the Tibetan government in Exile.

This is reality and what is happening to Tibetans who are trying to find a quality of life that will allow them basic freedoms as you and I know. Without these freedoms one cannot reach self actualization and reach their full potential. A few days after the film was shown I was walking down the road to go visit my friend in the hospital and a young nun about the age of sixteen was walking in front of me, as I walked up beside her we exchanged a Tashi Delek and then walked a little while quietly side by side. Then she started to speak in broken English to me. Eventually the conversation brought me to the question of when did you come to India. At that time she began to tell me the compelling story of how her friend was shot by the Chinese military while they were trying to escape. I just couldn’t believe I was talking to this young beautiful girl who experienced first hand the murder in the snow and it was a friend of hers. She began to tell me how sad she feels.

I have to say I have never experienced a walk like that before. She asked me if I would come visit her and so I will need to follow up on that. She lives in the community of Norbulinga at the nunnery Dolmaling.

Stories like this are heart wrenching. I have thought a great deal about the nuns I interviewed last summer who had been imprisoned. More to come on what came of the interviews with the two women I interviewed. Stay turned because it is really good news for them and for me…..

lh tibetan resized 450 Also take a look at the newest photos – Leann’s Photobucket link. Also any photos from this trip are in the main folder of listed in albums starting with number 1…..

Thanks for reading and considering the questions posed.

Leann Halsey


More from Murder In The Snow

Another YouTube video clip from the movie Murder In The Snow,

Dramatic movie trailer for the film Murder In The Snow,


Send dry erase markers for the Make Your Mark campaign

Tashi Delek and Hello. Please note that many photos have been added to my earlier blog post about Tibetan Losar so be sure to visit the blog on the web at and also take a moment to share this link with others. Also remember my frequent status updates on Twitter @indiasocialwork.

Make Your Mark dry erase markers 350 160 I was informed today by the director of Lha that they go through a lot of markers weekly, so this helps: Annette and Jeremy Scott participated in the beginnings of a Dry Erase Marker drive. A big thanks for the 40 plus markers that will be made use of in classes at Lha.

I have talked to Ngawang the director about doing a marker drive since it is a critical tool for the Tibetans education and he was excited about it. I have to give credit to my friend Kelly Buckley who is a teacher and left a message before I departed that she would be happy to mail the donation I was not able to get from her before departing. You know that ice storm set me back so I apologize to anyone that I did not get back with in phone calls before departing.

So here’s the deal…if you have seen the documentary film Paperclips you will understand where this idea comes from. It also goes hand in hand with the Pennies for Partnerships concept. It takes just a little bit of effort and a small investment to “Make Your Mark” on Tibetan education. I found dry erase markers two for $1.00 at the dollar store. Just pick one up and slip it into an envelope and mail it to:

Lha Office

Temple Road

McLeod Ganj 176219

Dharamsala, Distt. Kangra


For those who are real savvy you know you can go online and print out a mailing label and mail directly from your home so it takes even less effort.

OK please if you know of people who would like to participate in the “Make Your Mark” on a Tibetan education with a dry erase marker please forward the information. Let’s see if we can make something happen like what happened in the Paperclips campaign.Let’s overwhelm the Lha office wiht the most critical tool for Tibetan education a dry erase marker.

Make Your Mark

On your Mark, get set Go….send markers Please.

Thanks to you all for your kindness and generosity. The gratitude is sincerely felt by all who receive your donations here in the Tibetan community.

Thu jee chee (thank you),


Paper Clips movie trailer

One of the inspirations for the Make Your Mark campaign for dry erase markers for education.

please see also my social work blog post of March 10, 2009 – for more information & encouragement regarding Make Your Mark:

Thank you

Hello and Tashi Delek. Always remember to click on the title of this post so I can see the activity and you can access pictures and more on the blog.

This is just a quick post to say thank you for clicking in. The activity to the blog increased from 26 to 63 hits in one day. Wow that is awesome. So I just received my research questionnaire from the translator and now it is available in Tibetan. So my work will hopefully begin soon. For those of you who do not know I will be researching Nonviolence…more details to follow.

Also I want to include this link for you to read it ran in the LA times and it is a good read about the current situation in Tibet.,0,2367504.story

Photobucket I just finished a book that I want to recommend to any of you that may question the Dalai Lama’s efforts or position as a leader. It is by Robert Thurman (yes Uma Thurma the actress, her Father).  He is a professor at Columbia University and is an expert on Tibetan studies. The book is titled Why the Dalai Lama Matters. As a Noble Peace Prize Laureate and also a Congressional Gold Medal recipient the Dalai Lama is at this time the most respected International leader per a survey take recently for the Harold Times I believe.  Any way he has an important message for the world and the book helps lay it out to where years of work s condensed so that one can understand the issues at hand and his message. It also is a very important read for anyone who may question his intentions for the Tibetans. He seeks to bring to Tibet basic human rights that we so freely enjoy without knowing any different (except for maybe anyone who lived through the Civil Rights Movement and may have experienced the oppressive situation in America pre Martin Luther King Jr.). He also seeks democracy for Tibetans so they can have self determination. A little social work terminology for you… he seeks to provide the opportunity for each individual to have self determination and reach self actualization which provides one a better quality of life. He has positive regard for all human life and even more for all life forms in general, referred to as sentient beings.

I suggest if you are one who is critical of the Dalai Lama yet are not really certain of why then please read this book. I also suggest that instead of seeing him as a robed monk you see him as a political activist seeking human rights for all people.

OK I hope you take a moment to read this book it is excellent.

Have a great day and thank you for clicking in.


P.S. Daniel would like to add this curent YouTube report, on the eve of Losar. Our friend @Lhadon from Twitter, a Tibetan independence activist living in exile, presents her daily video blog on YouTube in conjunction with Students For A Free Tibet here:

The explanation about Losar and China’s actions gets really good in the video around 4:00 minutes in,

As you consider the video please take a moment to go back and read Leann’s blog about No Losar celebration and the concerns for the Tibetan culture.