My experience at the 2018 Tibetan Youth Leadership Program

By: Karma Choedak

Participants of the 2018 Tibetan Youth Leadership Program in front of the United States Capitol building in Washington, DC.

If you are familiar with the Tibetan freedom movement, you probably also know the importance of continued support from the international community to check China’s oppressive rule in Tibet. Be it China’s worry about its image on the global stage or practical trade interest, various forms of support from the international community have been the main source of force for keeping Tibetan issue alive. Needless to say, the US congressional support played an instrumental role to show China that they cannot do whatever they want in Tibet.

Tibetan Youth Leadership Program is a one-week long intensive program in which young Tibetan Americans learn about innovative ways to push Tibetan Freedom movement forward by appealing to their representatives in the Congress. This approach is innovative in the sense that Tibetans have traditionally portraited themselves as the victim of China’s illegal occupation of Tibet. Many people in the government of different countries are reluctant to work on Tibetan issues because they have more urgent and personal issues to deal first. Hence, for them, Tibetan issue might be a right thing to do but not on their list of priority. However, Tibetan Americans advocating Tibetan issues to their representatives in the Congress has a completely different meaning. Tibetan Americans are like any other Americans, their interest is part of the bigger American interest. Therefore, Tibetan issues are the inseparable part of American interest.

In addition to the opportunity to see many famous and historical buildings in the capital city, the leadership program also gave us hand on experiences to interact with many congressional representatives and their staffs. What is a better way to learn things than actually doing it! We also had the opportunity to thank long-time supporters of Tibetan freedom movement and express our gratitude for their unwavering support. Many of us really enjoyed the personal interaction with our representatives and sharing our concerns on Tibet with them.

Personally, one of the most powerful experience I had in this leadership program was how quickly all the participants became close to each other. Even though we came from different parts of the country and were born in different places, we could connect to each other easily because we shared the same root. One thing was evident to all of us, no matter wherever we live and whatever we do, Tibetans will always remain Tibetans. The more oppressive Chinese regime get in Tibet, more united the Tibetan people will be.

Last but not least, I want to sincerely thank all ICT staffs for organing this program. Your work has a tremendous positive impact on Tibetan freedom struggle and seeing you all working so tirelessly for Tibetan cause, I now have gained new hope that Tibet will be a free country soon.

* Karma Choedak is studying Business Administration at the University of Oklahoma.

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The International Campaign for Tibet's blog periodically features guest blogs by individuals who can provide unique insight to ICT programs and current events.

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