A Deeper Understanding -THIS MONTH’S VOLUNTEER STORY

Volunteer job at Lha: Writer for Contact

Vanshika Tripathi
Vanshika Tripathi

My first visit to Dharamshala took place during a visit to family in India in 2011, the summer before my senior year of high school. A usual trip to India would mean spending around two months shuffling from one relative’s house to another. Luckily, in 2011, some of my relatives happened to be living in Dharamshala. My first impression of the place was of course how extraordinary its scenic beauty was. What struck me the most, though, was the pleasant expression upon the faces of the people that lived here – especially the people from the Tibetan community – which I thought had something to do with the fresh mountain air. At that point in time I was not well aware of the issues that the Tibetan community had been facing.
On my return to the States I could not get Dharamshala out of my mind and when I heard the news that I would be returning in 2013 I was beyond ecstatic. I started to search for any kind of volunteer opportunities based there, and it was then that I came across Lha Charitable Trust and Contact Magazine and got in touch with Rabsel and Jenny in January of 2013. Even though I wouldn’t be in Dharamshala for another six months, I really wanted to contribute to Contact in whatever way I could.
I wrote my first article in February 2013, and have been writing for Contact ever since. Most of my articles have been written from home in the States, and sent in by email. With each article I write, I gain a deeper understanding of the issues that Tibet has been facing and my respect for the Tibetan community keeps growing. Writing about Tibetan current events has also given me a more empathetic perspective and a deeper understanding of the struggles of minority groups in the United States. Learning about the persecution of countless Tibetans has replaced my once naïve outlook towards the world with a solemn awareness. More than anything, the Tibetan cause has instilled in me an unshakable feeling of hope.
When I returned to Dharamshala in 2013, it somehow felt like I had never left. The faces carrying such kindly expressions meant so much more now that I understood the struggle that they have faced for so long. Despite the hardships, the warmth that I received from Dharamshala’s Tibetan community was unparalleled, and I am now awaiting my next return.