Travels Through Tibet

Towards an Understanding of the Macro and Micro Implications of the Sino-Tibet Conflict

By Anoushka Shahane

The Sino-Tibetan conflict continues to affect hundreds of lives and the Tibetan people have continued with their peaceful movements in response. China and Tibet have tried to win the west over for support, which may have a significant impact on future ties between the western countries and the opposing side. In light of all of China’s oppression, several Tibetans have fled to India through the Himalayas and to seek refuge in Dharamsala, India.

After I produced a documentary on the Sino-Tibet conflict, I traveled to the Tibetan government, interviewed the Prime Minister (where I learned about the Central Tibetan Administration’s direct action to resolve the conflict with China, the subsidies that the Indian government is providing for Tibetan education in India, and Tibetan progress towards establishing a democratic charter), visited the parliament, and got the opportunity to explore rooms full of preserved Buddhist scriptures. The trip helped me crystallize several ideas regarding Tibet that had come up during my research.

Perhaps the most eye-opening experience of the trip was when I visited a Tibetan refugee camp and stupas (Tibetan temples). As residents in the US, so far away from the situation, we are unable to fully grasp the impact these events have on the Tibetan people. Like I mentioned earlier, the media informs us of the global implications: how ties may be affected and what particular events insinuate about China and Tibet’s future – a macro perspective. However, only through my journey did I start to understand the micro perspective – the trajectory of so many Tibetans’ lives has drastically changed in the recent past.

In the Tibetan Children’s Village, where 15,000 Tibetan refugee children are housed and educated, I got the chance to talk to young adults and children, understand their living conditions and see their progress. The diversity of backgrounds was incredible: I met children who had just arrived at the organization a few weeks back after traveling from Tibet through the Himalayas on their own, and I also met graduates of the organization who completed coursework and had jobs in the nearby city. Despite the great odds against these people, they have demonstrated their strength and perseverance. I feel so fortunate to have received that opportunity, as it has helped me broaden my perspective when reading about Sino-Tibet affairs and consider the implications on the people as well as the consequences on the country as a whole.

Anoushka Shahane is a junior majoring in Cognitive and Brain Sciences and Biopyschology