Australia Tibet Council

Enabling everyone in Australia to be part of change in Tibet

Greetings from Dharamsala

Monday, 11 November 2013

HHDL InsightMy name is Mary. I am writing to you from Dharamsala.

Along with 19 other people, I have come here on ATC’s Dharamsala Insight Tour. This year 16 of us are from Australia, 2 from Switzerland and 2 from the US – all sharing a common interest in Tibet and a desire to learn more by direct engagement with the Tibetans here.

What an experience so far!

On Wednesday the ATC arranged a special audience for us with His Holiness the Dalai Lama at his residence. Meeting him was the gift of my lifetime. The Dalai Lama spoke to us about "the importance of the Tibetan Buddhist culture", about "long-term perseverance and not giving up" and thanked us profusely for our support for Tibet. Amazing!

This is my first trip to India. I felt at home in no time among the hardworking and gracious Tibetan people. Forced to leave their homeland, Tibetans have built a vibrant and resilient community in exile.

Here in the heartland of the Tibetan refugees, we are meeting young children who receive both modern and traditional education, artists practicing their rich craft and culture, and tireless and fearless activists working for freedom in Tibet. The younger generation of Tibetan men and women have inspired us all – with a music, dance and poetry performance to mark Lhakar and sharing their work with us at informal dinner gatherings. At the same time, it's tinged with sadness as we hear the tragic stories of life under China’s rule in Tibet from those who have recently fled into exile.

It’s an inspiring and emotional journey all at once. Being here with ATC opens all sorts of doors and we are warmly welcomed wherever we go. I hope more Tibet supporters like you can visit Dharamsala.

By joining a tour organised by a Tibet Support Group like ATC, I'm also helping to raise funds for their advocacy work for Tibetan rights and freedoms.

Personally, I am so grateful to share this experience with my fellow travellers and make new friends with Tibet supporters from other parts of Australia and the world.

We have one more week here. I'm looking forward to visiting the Tibetan Nuns Project, meeting some of the original Tibetan exiles at the Jampaling Elders Home and talking over a coffee with the members of the Tibetan Women’s Association - and just soaking up the Dharamsala atmosphere and rubbing shoulders with the local Tibetans.

ATC has a program ready for November this year – read more and register your interest.