Saturday, April 10, 2010

Tibetan Refugee Camp

In 1959, an anti-Chinese and anti-communist revolt occurred in the capital of Lhasa due to threats that the Tibetan spiritual leader, the Dalai Lama, was about to be kidnapped by the Chinese government that had been occupying the area since their invasion in 1950. This caused a mass exodus of Tibetans out of their home nation and scattered them around the world.
Today, Tibetans cannot freely study and practice their religion as there are government restriction on celebrating anniversaries and traditional holidays, even required denunciations of the Dalai Lama himself.
Tibetans also are not free to develop their own land and business due to heavy pressure by the Chinese government. There is also a lack of encouragement to study Tibetan language only in primary school, which as a result, education levels in the country are much lower than those in China.
Due to this, many native Tibetans seek refuge in other surrounding countries like India, Nepal, and Bhutan. When I visited Darjeeling, I was very excited to visit the “National Handicap” center for Tibetan refugees. Here are the pics.
The center had been founded some fifty years earlier, and the Tibetans, mostly elderly people who spent their days making traditional handicrafts, were very proud to say that their complex was completely self sustained. I’ve long admired the Tibetan struggle and been fascinated by the country, Buddhism is a cool philosophy about inward understanding and can be helpful for anyone who wants to take the take to better look into themselves and their lives. But mostly I want to visit there for the landscape. It is amazing to think that they live on top of the world. I am currently putting together a plan to visit Lhasa this summer.
The future of these "Tibetan Refugees" is clear, as the pictures of this one on one basketball game will show. I ran into this kid and we just started playing. The best part was that he was so full of AND1 moves, trying to cross me over, put the ball up the back of his shirt and look around for birds, tossing the ball to himself off the glass. It was sort of ridiculous, something only a kid that had watched hours and hours of American ESPN television would ever try. Surprisingly, it gave me hope. A certainty that with this sort of shameful part of our western culture, the boy was also receiving the best our western nations had to offer in mathematics, literature, multi-cultural exchanges and understanding, a sense of the world that other people are interested and care about what happens in Tibet. That’s what I left with that day.
And yeah, I let the kid win. Come on, what did you expect?

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