Telling Tales

meI’ve met so many wonderful people here from a wide variety of backgrounds and cultures. Most of the tales I have heard are too tragic to fully comprehend. Working with refugees and the exiled Tibetan community has certainly been one of the highlights of my life, and an experience I’m sure never to forget.

The journalism element whilst working for Contact Magazine covered subjects that truly fascinated me.  Real, hard-news stories that moved me as I researched them.  The shocking self-immolations in Tibet, the Chinese approach to gagging “pro-Tibetan propaganda” and various spy stories are all part of the journalistic norm reporting here.

Through the office window you can see Tibetan children playing each day, dodging sleeping dogs in the playground, as monkeys lark around in trees above.  The children sing harmoniously every single day.  A beautiful sound I know I’ll always miss.

Although I came to India with a view to volunteering my time as a budding journalist and general web-monkey, nothing has inspired me more than my limited but fruitful experience of teaching.  Whether it was journalism to university students or English to refugees, I thoroughly enjoyed the class and student interaction and left with a rewarding feeling of achievement.  I’m sure I learnt far more than the students did however.

The studying ethos here is unlike any I’ve ever come across in my life.  You can see their desire for knowledge and education burning deep within.  If I could dedicate 24 hours in every day to teaching, I’m sure the students would be happy to double that to learn more.

English Conversation class is a great way to get to know the students better.  I usually started off by asking their names and ages, with a follow up question about family or where they were born, and listened fascinated to the stories of their 10/11 day trek through the treacherous Himalayas.  The vast majority of the Tibetan community have not seen their Tibet-based friends or family for years and have no idea when, or if, they will see them again.

When the students would ask me what I thought of the Tibet situation, I’d have to fight back the tears describing how outraged and upset I am by it all.  Words can not explain how their stories have touched me.  In the west the Tibet issue seems so far away.  Here the Tibetan struggle, by such a wonderful group of people, has lodged itself firmly in my heart.

I find myself in the midst of a population in exile, and simultaneously among the most peace-loving and forgiving people in the world.  It’s a magical place and I feel privileged to have played my very own small part. Tashi delek (greetings).

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