Our Unwavering Mission to Uphold Peace and Human Rights

By Tenzin Passang. Tenzin Passang is a junior at the University of Minnesota Twin Cities and an intern at the International Campaign for Tibet.

“Our prime purpose in this life is to help others. And if you can’t help them, at least don’t hurt them.”
– His Holiness the 14th Dalai Lama

 Tenzin Passang

Author Tenzin Passang outside of Speaker Emerita Nancy Pelosi’s office on Capitol Hill.

This quote of His Holiness manifested in true form when more than 200 Tibetan Americans and non-Tibetans convened in Washington DC for the annual Tibet Lobby Day. Their purpose: to speak for those who can’t. Tibet Lobby Day organized by the International Campaign for Tibet, empowers advocates with the opportunity to meet their legislators and address the plight our fellow Tibetans face in Tibet. This year our focus was on the Resolve Tibet Act, which recently passed the House of Representatives and now awaits Senate approval. The bill, if passed, will make it official US policy that the dispute between Tibet and China remains unresolved and must be resolved in accordance with international law.

It was overwhelming to see many people from all over the nation come to DC for our event. We received a very diverse group of participants including high school and college students, professionals, retired folk and partners of our organization. It was especially inspiring to see so many young Tibetans, and their absence from their school served as their recognition for a greater cause. Their presence meant a lot to me and not because they increased the number of participants, nor because we increased our outreach to more states, but because it served as a testament that the next generation who will eventually lead the movement to free Tibet was up to the task. I perceived a deeply rooted sense of patriotism and selflessness in them reflected by their commitment to advocate for people who they have never met, yet with whom they shared an intrinsic connection of identity, culture, and compassion.

Congressional meetings are often one-sided conversation; you best be prepared to present your issues articulately and persuasively. These meetings require you to understand the bills and relevant current affairs. I accompanied two Vermonters to their Congressional meetings, Tsering Yangkyi Cummings, a community leader, and her 14-year-old daughter, Tenzin Yega Cummings. Tsering and the rest of the group were well prepared, and we had organized in a way so that everyone on the team could contribute to the meeting. However, the person who made the most impactful contribution was Tenzin Yega. Yes, a 14-year-old advocate. Without her the meetings would not have been as productive as we would have liked. She displayed confidence and intellectual prowess by leading our conversations and by answering questions in a well-informed and articulate manner. I could see that the Congressional staffers were amazed, and I was as well.

Tibet Lobby Day

Author Tenzin Passang with ICT staffers Sarah Kane and Tsejin Khando preparing materials for Tibet Lobby Day participants.

Her conversations were driven by her passion and a willingness to make a difference. Her calm and composed demeanor set the tone for our meetings, and she was quick to speak up when others had run out of things to say. During the free time between meetings, she would flip through info packets and prepare herself by practicing with her mother.

All in all, Tibet Lobby Day was a grand success. The event itself is an exercise of our right to petition our government, keeping the Tibetan spirit vibrant within the halls of Congress. The growth in participation since our inaugural year is exponential, with some non-Tibetan allies matching, if not surpassing, my own zeal—a fact that fills me with immense joy. Through our relentless advocacy we aim to marshal more support not just in Congress but the American population in general.

I am eager to participate next year as well and to find more energy and inspiration. Bod Gyalo! (Victory for Tibet!)

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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.