Just a few weeks ago, Students for a Free Tibet held their 11th Free Tibet! Action Camp at Menla Retreat Centre in Upstate New York. As a regular visitor on the Students for a Free Tibet website, I saw the advertisement about the camp. As a Tibetan activist, I wanted to equip myself with tools that will help me become more effective in my work for Tibet. And having seen what SFT has been doing since the Beijing Olympics, and knowing that all those SFTers went to these camps, I wanted to be just as skilled as them and I knew going to this Action Camp would be the perfect opportunity for me. A bunch of us drove down there from Toronto, ON Canada; it took us about 9 hours drive. I was super excited to get to the camp, so the drive didn’t even feel like 9 hours; I enjoyed the mesmerizing scenery as we drove down there.
Once I got there I met my fellow Tibetan and Tibet supporting brothers and sisters. As I got to hear their stories of how they got involved in the Tibetan Freedom Movement it was really motivating. Also having lived in the city for so long, living in the tent in the wilderness was really fun. When the workshops began, having more than one trainer in each workshop was really helpful. The trainers were professional and very well experienced. There were so many workshops that each individual got to work on their weaknesses and turn it into their strengths. As we need more leaders in our movement, workshops were really focused on providing each individual with the leadership tools required. So that once people head back to their own cities, they would be ready to lead a chapter, club or even an organization.
It was extremely inspiring listening to the guest speakers that came and to watch their presentations: Jamyang Norbu la, Geshe Robert Thurman la, Former Political Prisoners: Ngawang Sangdrol la and Choeying la, Jhola Techung la, Burmese Democracy activist Ang Moe Win, Lama Pema, and a leading Chinese democracy advocate Mr. Wei Jingsheng.
Towards the end of our workshop, we had two surprise guest speakers. It was none other than SFT’s very own former executive director Lhadon Tethong and Tibet Action Institute (TAI) Technology director Nathan Freitas. Both of them briefed us about communications technology security. Communication between Tibetans inside Tibet and Tibetans in exile being a very significant tool, and also being in the 21st century technology making communication possible from earth to even the moon, it would be just to say technology is essential to our Tibetan Freedom Movement. With the Chinese Government’s spying and hacking becoming more and more aggressive, as a Tibetan activist it is very important to be careful with how and who you communicate information with.
A very special thank you to Jhola Techung la for teaching us about Traditional Tibetan Music, the world has admired how although we have lost our land, we’ve not lost our culture and traditions. And this is because of people like Jhola who travels around the world to teach the young and old through music. I would also like to thank the volunteers who worked in the kitchen and provided us with delicious vegetarian meals (it was so good that I didn’t even miss my amala’s Sha Momo!!!).
The SFT HQ staff worked really hard to make this camp experience educational, fun and memorable for us. I believe this camp has made me a confident leader and also a skilled activist with infinite passion for this movement. I definitely encourage everybody to sign up for any SFT Action Camp taking place near your location. It will help you for yourself in the future and definitely will help you if you are in any movement, especially the Tibetan Freedom Movement.
Lastly we all know Students for a Free Tibet is a non profit organization, so all of this wouldn’t have been possible without our Tibetan and Tibet supporting donors. It doesn’t matter if it was a one-time donation or as a Rangzen circle member (monthly donation), it wouldn’t have been possible without your ongoing support and generosity towards our Tibetan Freedom Movement. So please believe that we will bring change, and support us until we reach our goal which is the full independence of Tibet.
Tibet Will Be Free
SFT Canada Summer Intern