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"On my part, I remain committed to the process of dialogue. It is my firm belief that dialogue and a willingness to look with honesty and clarity at the reality of Tibet can lead us to a viable solution."

Tibetans Pay Tribute with 'Thank You Minnesota Day'

October 21, 2009

October 18, 2009

St. Paul, MN -- Coinciding with the second
anniversary of the awarding of 2007 Congressional
Gold medal to His Holiness the Dalai Lama ,
Tibetan American Foundation of Minnesota
celebrated a moving tribute to friends of the
Tibetan community with cultural performance by
Tibetan children. Under the banner of ‘Thank You
Minnesota’, TAFM observed ‘50 Years in Exile’
commemoration event by honoring those that helped
with Tibetan resettlement in Minnesota at the
same time acknowledging the kindness of Indian
government and its people for 50 years of refuge and rehabilitation in India.

Year 2009 marks 50 years since the Chinese
occupation of Tibet in 1959. While remembering
the Tibetans in Tibet for the suffering they go
through and freedom they yearn for, Tibetans in
India and across the globe express their
gratitude to the host countries- especially India
- for their help. TAFM has invited
representatives from Indian Association of Minnesota (IAM).

Mr. Vijay Muralidaran of IAM recognized India’s
contribution and expressed that Tibetans must not
give up the non-violent struggle. “Non-violence
is a proven experiment. And soon you will see the light”.

Dr. Tsewang Ngodup, President of TAFM, said, "we
look back with gratitude to all those who helped
Minnesota Tibetans settle here and find a home
away from home. We enjoy freedom and
opportunities we have here that have been denied
to Tibetans in Tibet for over half a century”.

About 160 Tibetans first arrived in Minnesota in
April 1992 under the resettlement project
approved by the United States government which
granted 1000 immigrant visas for Tibetans in the
Indian sub-continent. Minnesotans welcomed these
Tibetans into their homes; helped with job
placements and aided in reunion of families.
Despite the dreadful winter, today more than 2500
Tibetans live in Minnesota - mainly in Twin Cities.

Many friends still remain supportive of the
Tibetan community and keep close contact with the
organization. Ann Ayrault, one of the early
supporters who served as Executive Director for a
long time remains proud of the community’s
accomplishment. Recounting the Tibetan immigrant
stories that began with the arrival of three
Tibetans she said Tibetan community made a
successful transition despite receiving no
government help with resettlement. Seeing the
first generation immigrant children perform so
lively Ms Ayrault said “spirit of Tibet is here”.

TAFM became the first Tibetan association in
North America to own a community center which it
acquired in August of 2003. Several friends were
involved in fundraising and logistics to realize
this for the community. These days Tibetan
Community Cultural Center remains busy as ever
with hundreds of events bringing religious,
cultural, social and political programs.

Both Tibetan Culture School and Tibetan
Performing Arts are TAFM’s core activities held
on weekend imparting lessons in Tibetan language
and traditional dance and music lessons. Tibetan
Culture School now has about 140 students
admitted. While increasing enrollment remains a
challenge considering the limited space,
administrators remain committed in accommodating
Tibetans children to realize its mission.

In recent months TAFM also introduced a youth
outreach program called LAMTON - a mentoring
program in collaboration with students in
surrounding colleges. It enables college students
to provide guidance and tutoring on a weekly
basis to several high school students in the area
as well as hold workshops about preparation and visits to colleges.

TAFM remains committed to bringing multitude of
programs to the community and appreciates the
support of both Tibetans and friends, said Dr. Tsewang.

Kalsang Phuntsok contributed this article for the
Tibetan American Foundation of Minnesota
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