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Perspective of a Tibetan Intern in Washington

August 12, 2009

Pelmo Takza
ICT Blog
July 31, 2009

I have been interning in the International Campaign for Tibet (ICT)
Washington office for two months in the communications department. My
responsibilities have included gathering news from online sources and
disseminating them to the ICT staff, updating sections of the ICT
website, helping with the online photo gallery, and leading online
discussions with alumni of the ICT Tibetan Youth Leadership Program.
I have also been managing a few online social networks to spread
awareness about the Tibetan struggle.

In my spare time I have been able to attend hearings and roundtable
discussions on China issues on Capitol Hill. One of many perks of
interning here has been meeting an array of hard-working,
well-established scholars and professional advocates. It has been
mind boggling to be a part of a team that is one of the top  lobbying
organizations for Tibet and is also among the best sources for both
US and international media to turn to when questions regarding Tibet
arise. Last but not least, as an intern at ICT, I had a chance to
help organize an ICT information session for Tibetan interns and
Tibetan youths spending their summer in the DC area, which I really
felt was especially rewarding personally. We were 16 participants
from five different organizations. I was excited to hear the ICT
staff talk about their work and hear the  interaction with Tibetan
youth. The session was divided into an English and a Tibetan discussion.

The Tibetan session was intense. We dove right into Chinese outreach
and then into the topic of "self-identification." Outreach to the
international community has always been a priority for Tibet
supporters and activists. However, what gets overlooked sometimes or
misunderstood is Chinese outreach. In this respect, ICT is
commendable because it has had an active Chinese outreach program
since its establishment in 1988.

Discussions further went on to self identification. How do you
perceive yourself? Being a Tibetan who was born in India and who
spent half of her years in the United States as a citizen, I would
answer simply: Tibetan. The same applied for the majority of the
participants at the session. However, then the real question was
hammered  out: What have you as a Tibetan done to help with the
Tibetan cause? Tibetan youth nowadays are very much conscious of
responsibilities they have for Tibet and the Tibetan people. There
has always been community involvement in events such as Tibetan
festivals, teachings, protests and rallies, potlucks or talent shows.
These were the avenues that were most familiar to the Tibetans.
However, today Tibetan youths are more innovative and faced with more options.

In addition to ICT, other Tibetan organizations include Machik, which
works directly inside Tibet helping the Tibetans in education and
different fields, Tibetan Youth Congress (TYC), Tibetan Women's
Association (TWA) and Students for a Free Tibet (SFT). Involvement in
these organizations is a testament to the vigor of the Tibet
movement. Furthermore, what is even more inspirational is the rise in
the trend of Tibetan youth internships in these organizations, which
shows the solid commitment of future generations to the Tibetan struggle.

When asked if we had ever written to our Congressmen and
Congresswomen, I was a little timid. As an ICT intern, I should have
been first to say yes. In March 2009, ICT organized a Tibet Lobby Day
in Washington. Tibetan-Americans, some from as far as California,
voiced their concerns to their congressional representatives to help
the cause of the Tibetans. In truth, I have never once voiced my
personal opinion to my Congressman. We were reminded that we
ourselves must also utilize the American system. This effort in
combination with our regular involvement in the Tibetan  community
will bear more fruit for the Tibetan struggle. With this I can
confidently conclude that I will write to my Congressman and pay him a visit!

Well so this was how the first joint Tibetan intern information
session ended. Unfortunately, the end of this session also coincides
with the end of my internship here at ICT. The skills I gained from
this internship I can utilize in the future. I became more  internet
savvy, sharpened my familiarity with the countless Tibet related
websites, learned how to organize sessions in which skills range from
setting of the conference room, establishing agenda for the sessions
and spreading publicity of the event in order to achieve the maximum
participants. Internet research and event organizational skills are
essential today where information is periodically updated first on
the  internet. As for event organizational skills it is helpful in
every aspect of one's life because it is all about time management
and using one's resources.

Passion is a must when it comes to success and it was abundant here
at ICT. I do believe I am a changed person. I have a stronger drive
to better myself and also contribute to the Tibetan struggle. I know
that I have a long journey ahead of me and I am willing to work hard
towards my goals. I thank ICT for giving me this opportunity.
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