Since 2002, Tulane University’s social work students have been coming to India for a one month program in Dharmasala and its surrounding areas. This year, 16 students, 3 professors, and 2 group leaders came to Dharamsala led by Professor Ron Mark. For two weeks, the Tulane students spent time, one-on-one, with Tibetan students from Lha learning about each other’s cultures. For the Tibetans, it proved an excellent venue for practicing basic English conversation skills.
The Tulane students delved deeper into understanding the Tibetan situation by meeting with numerous NGOs and community leaders. At Gu-Chu-Sum they learned the about the struggle of political activists and former political prisoners. At the Tibetan Women’s Association they learned about the particular problems facing women in Tibetan society. At Tong-Len Charitable Trust they explored the many programs concerned with displaced communities.
In addition, they had an opportunity to tour the Central Tibetan Administration (CTA) complex and hear a speech on Tibetan issues. Visits to the Tibet Museum, as well as the many temples and monasteries surrounding the Dharamsala area, revealed the historical and artistic culture of Tibetan tradition.
This 10 year old cultural exchange has seen more than 100 students come to Dharamsala and has proven to be a valuable and important component since it can help to foster relationships among western and Tibetan students.