This past weekend was Students for a Free Tibet Canada’s Back-To-School Workshop here in Toronto. There was representation not only from Toronto area students, but people hailing all the way from Calgary and Montreal as well. The workshop was aimed at providing students with skills and resources to help them start up or maintain their local SFT chapters. We started the day off discussing historical non-violent movements, from the Civil Rights movement in the United States to the Gandhian movement in India. These examples of non-violent movements and the tactics they used only further the case for non-violence when demanding for change from the status quo.
The day progressed with other workshops helping to empower the SFT members in terms of the essentials of running a chapter. And like any other SFT conference, not only did SFTers learn useful tools to help them and their chapters, but long-lasting bonds were built between the SFTers from all over the country, trumping any personal background differences and language barriers.
At the end of the day, I felt inspired by all the young students and their visions for their SFT chapters in the coming year. The fact that we had such a dynamic group of motivated and passionate Tibetan and Tibet-supporting youth made me excited for the Tibet movement here in Canada.
However, I think my most real inspirational moment took place later on in the weekend. The morning after the workshop, a few of us went down to sit by the Toronto Lakeshore to take in the sunrise. Out of nowhere, an elderly Tibetan man with prayer beads in hand came up to us and exclaimed, “I thought you were Tibetans!” and proceeded to tell us how he came down here every day after his morning ritual of sweet tea, two eggs and bread. He then walked to the edge of the dock and stared down into the water. He told us that the clear water in the morning reminded him of the water in Tibet, and how in the winter, the lakes in Tibet would freeze over, unlike Lake Ontario. I could sense a longing in his voice for his home country but also bliss in reminiscing about his youth in a free Tibet. At that moment, I, along with the others, were reminded why we were a part of Students for a Free Tibet, and why we were fighting for Rangzen (Tibetan: Freedom). Only with Rangzen, can Tibetans like the man who walks by the lakeshore every morning, return home to where they belong and live their lives in bliss. Bhoe Rangzen!