This past weekend, I had the opportunity to attend Students for a Free Tibet
’s (SFT) Action Camp
. This is a retreat where participants receive training in how to be effective activists, including campaigning, media work, grassroots organizing, rope climbing and banner hanging, and other activities. It was set in a pretty and remote woodland site in upstate New York.
As ICT’s Director of Government Relations, I led two discussion groups on how to lobby elected officials (especially the U.S. Congress) and provided a government advocacy update. While most of the attendees were from the United States (and many of those had come to DC to participate in Tibet Lobby Day
), there were others from Canada, Norway, Switzerland and the United Kingdom. We discussed how the tools for effective political lobbying can easily translate to other countries and to other layers of government (such as at the state and local levels).
It was inspiring for me to meet so many young people becoming engaged and devoted to the Tibet movement. A majority of the participants were Tibetans, which shows that even after 50 years of exile, new generations of Tibetans continue to be motivated to help bring peace and freedom to their homeland.
I was also impressed by the SFT staff and trainers for their dedication and professionalism.
Besides seeing old friends and meeting new people in the movement, the activity I most enjoyed was the rope climbing – learning how to manipulate ropes and a harness to pull oneself up a tall tree (or building or bridge). It was challenging but well worth the effort.
A re-energizing and productive weekend indeed.
PHOTO: Participants at SFT's Action Camp -- see more images here