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Talk Tibet: A New Public Forum Explores the Minds of the Tibetans

November 3, 2008

by email
Phayul
October 31, 2008

Shortly after the Beijing Olympics, Tashi Lamsang and his friends
were sitting in a Dharamsala café having one of the many lively and
passionate discussions on the Tibetan struggle that were occurring in
similar scattered groups all over town. While they were talking,
Lamsang, who arrived from Tibet in 2003, imagined creating a public
forum where Tibetans could share such ideas and opinions during this
critical time.

"I wanted to bring people together to help to solve the Tibetan
issue, to get to know one another better, and to create a greater
sense of camaraderie among us."

To this end, 26-year-old Lamsang and fellow activists created Talk
Tibet, a series of weekly programs that provides an opportunity for
all members of the community, regardless of status or position, to
discuss important topics in an open and uninhibited manner.

Co-organizer Tenzin Losel feels that the programs serve an important
function on an individual as well as community level. "It's hard to
hold all these things inside your heart. You feel a sense of relief
when you are able to express them and be heard."

He continues. "I used to attend many meetings and discussions, but
even though I had a lot of ideas I didn't have the confidence to
raise even a single question. Now I feel completely fine speaking in
public and I can share my own experience with all kinds of people,
even those who hold a different opinion to my own."

As Tenzin explains, Talk Tibet is not an NGO but is made up of a
diverse group of individuals. The forum committee doesn't take a
stand on any particular ideology and does not necessarily endorse the
opinions expressed by its speakers. "We are simply a platform where
people can freely share their views."

One particular goal of Talk Tibet is to increase political and social
awareness, particularly among Tibetan youth, and to promote personal
responsibility and leadership. "We need to create strength from
within the community," says writer and activist Tenzin Tsundue.
"Protest rallies alone are not enough. We need a strong intellectual movement."

The discussions, held every other Saturday, have an informal flavor
to them and yet operate within certain guidelines of behavior. Each
session is led by a moderator to ensure that the exchange remains
focused, balanced and courteous. The arts have also been incorporated
into the Talk Tibet format, as an entertaining way to foster creative
avenues of approach to the issues facing Tibetans. On alternate
Saturdays, films that highlight freedom struggles around the world as
well as those with parallels to the Tibetan issue are screened as
springboards for dialogue.

Topics on the discussion agenda include strategies for activists,
Tibet's political future, the election of the next Tibetan prime
minister, democratic awareness, and other issues. Talk Tibet is also
planning a review meeting on November 23rd where a cross-section of
attendees from the Special Meeting representing government, NGO's and
individuals, will share their ideas in an interactive exchange with
the local community.

The organizers hope that people will replicate the Talk Tibet format
in their own communities both in India and abroad. "You can host a
Talk Tibet event in private homes, cafés, libraries or dharma
centers," says Lhakpa Kyizom. "You can start with your family and
friends." Kyizom especially hopes that more Tibetan women will take
part to express their point of view. "This is for anyone who feels
for Tibet, for justice, and for truth."

Lamsang finds that the discussions inspire people to get more
actively involved in the Tibetan struggle. "Even if you just come to
observe, you will leave feeling more enthusiastic to work for the cause."
CTC National Office 1425 René-Lévesque Blvd West, 3rd Floor, Montréal, Québec, Canada, H3G 1T7
T: (514) 487-0665   ctcoffice@tibet.ca
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