ཕྱི་ལོ་ ༢༠༡༩ ཟླ་ ༦ ཚེས་ ༢༢ ཉིན་ཨ་རིའི་མངའ་སྡེ་ཨི་ལི་རྣོའི་གྲོང་ཁྱེར་ཅི་ཀ་ཀོར་མ་གཅིག་ཁ་བརྡ་ཐེངས་གསུམ་པ་དེ་ཚོགས་རྒྱུའི་གོ་སྐབས་འབྱུང། དེར་མཉམ་ཞུགས་གནང་མཁན་མི་གྲངས་ ༡༥ ཙམ་ཕེབས་སོང་ལ་འདི་ནི་སྔར་གྱི་ཁ་བརྡ་ལས་ལྡབ་བཞིའི་མང་བ་ཡིན་པའི་དགའ་འཚོར་ཆེན་པོ་འབྱུང། ཐེངས་འདིའི་ཁ་བརྡའི་བརྗོད་གཞི་ནི་མཁར་བྱམས་རྒྱལ་གྱིས་བཟོ་བསྐྲུན་གནང་པའི་གློག་བརྙན་ “དཔའ་བོའི་ལུང་པ” ཞེས་པ་དེ་རེད། གློག་བརྙན་འདིའི་བརྗོད་བྱ་སྙིང་པོ་ནི་བོད་མདོ་སྨད་བྱང་ཤར་ཁུལ་དུ་ཡོད་པའི་དཔའ་བོའི་ལུང་པའི་ཡུལ་མིས་མྱོང་བཞིན་པའི་བོད་ཀྱི་སྐད་ཡིག་དོར་རླག་ཏུ་འགྲོ་བའི་ཛ་དྲག་གི་གནས་སྟངས་ཀྱི་སྐོར་ལ་ཡིན། ཡུལ་དེར་ཕ་མེས་ཀྱི་དུས་སུ་ཕལ་ཆེར་བོད་རིགས་མང་ཡང། དེང་སྐབས་བོད་རིགས་གྲངས་ཉུང་མི་རིགས་ཤིག་ཏུ་འགྱུར་ཡོད་སྟབས། རྒྱ་གཞུང་གིས་བོད་མི་རིགས་ཀྱི་སྐད་ཡིག་སྲུང་སྐྱོབ་སླད་དམིགས་བསལ་གྱི་རོགས་རམ་དང་མཐུན་རྐྱེན་གང་ཡང་མི་གནང་བས་བོད་ཀྱི་སྐད་ཡིག་བེད་སྤྱོད་བྱེད་པའི་གོམས་སྲོལ་རིམ་བཞིན་མེད་དུ་སོང་བའི་ཉེན་ཁ་ཤུགས་ཆེན་ཡོད་པ་ནི་དངོས་གསལ་བདེ་པོ་རེད། དེ་མིན་ལུང་ཁུགས་དེའི་སྡོད་མི་ཕལ་ཆེ་བ་ཁ་ཆེ་ཡིན་པ་དང་གློག་བརྙན་འདིའི་རྒྱུད་བོད་རིགས་ཁ་ཆེའི་སྐོར་ཤེས་རྒྱུའི་གོ་སྐབས་བཟང་པོ་ཞིག་ཀྱང་ཐོབ་བྱུང་དྲན།
གློག་བརྙན་འདི་བལྟས་ཟིན་རྗེས་འཛོམ་ཞུགས་གནང་མཁན་ཚོའི་ཁྲོད་དུ་མྱོང་ཚོར་དང་བསམ་འཚུལ་འདྲ་མིན་སྣ་ཚོགས་འབྱུང་སོང། ཁ་ཅིག་གིས་ཧ་ལས་པའི་གནས་ཚུལ་ལ་དེ་འདྲའི་ཡུལ་ཁུགས་དེའི་བོད་རིགས་རྣམས་ལ་སྐད་ཡིག་སྲུང་སྐྱོབ་དང་འབྲེལ་འཕྲད་པའི་དཀའ་ངལ་དང་ཨ་རི་གཙོས་ནུབ་ཕྱོགས་པའི་ས་ཁུལ་དུ་འཚོ་གནས་བཞིན་པའི་བོད་རིགས་རྣམས་ཀྱི་དཀའ་ངལ་ཤིན་ཏུ་མཚུངས་པར་མཐོང། དེ་མིན་ཁ་ཤས་ཀྱིས་ནམ་རྒྱུན་དུ་ནས་ཕལ་མོ་ཆེའི་སྣང་ཚུལ་ལ་བོད་པ་ཞེས་པ་དེ་དང་ནང་པ་སངས་རྒྱས་པའི་ཆོས་ལ་དད་གུས་བྱེད་མཁན་གྱི་བོད་རིགས་གཉིས་དོན་གཅིག་ཡིན་པར་ཤར་པ་ཡོད་ཀྱང། གནས་ཚུལ་དུ་བོད་རིགས་ཁྲོད་དུ་ཡང་ཁ་ཆེ་དང་བོན་པོ་བཅས་ནང་པ་མ་ཡིན་པའི་ཆོས་ལུགས་ཉམས་ལེན་བྱེད་མཁན་ཡོད་པ་ཤེས་རྒྱུ་གལ་ཆེ་དྲན།
དེ་རིང་གི་ཁ་བརྡ་འདིར་ཕེབས་མཁན་གཞོན་སྐྱེས་ཁ་ཤས་ཀྱིས་རང་ལ་བོད་པ་ཡིན་པའི་འདུ་ཤེས་དང་འཚོར་སྣང་ཤུགས་ཆེན་ཡོད་སྐོར་བཤད་སོང། ཁོང་ཚོས་ཀྱང་བཙན་བྱོལ་སྤྱི་ཚོགས་ནང་དུ་བོད་ཀྱི་སྐད་ཡིག་གི་ཤེས་ཚད་ཉམས་རྒུད་འགྲོ་བཞིན་ཡོད་པ་དང། འདི་ཉིད་མི་ཉམས་རྒྱུན་འཛིན་དང་ཉམས་པ་སླར་གསོ་བྱེད་རྒྱུའི་ཐབས་ལམ་མི་འདྲ་བ་འཚོལ་རྒྱུ་ཤིན་ཏུ་གལ་ཆེར་མཐོང།
དེ་མིན་ང་ཚོས་སྤྱིར་བཏང་སྐད་ཡིག་དང་རྒྱལ་ཁབ་གཅིག་གི་ངོ་བོའི་བར་གྱི་འབྲེལ་བའི་སྐོར་མང་ཙམ་གླེངས་པ་ཡིན། བོད་སྐད་ལྟ་བུར་དཔེ་བཞག་ན་བོད་མི་རིགས་ཀྱི་སྲོག་རྩ་ལྟ་བུ་ཡིན་པ་ནམ་རྒྱུན་དུ་ནས་བཤད་ཀྱི་ཡོད་ཀྱང། ང་ཚོས་གླེང་མོལ་དེ་ཆ་ཚང་དབྱིན་སྐད་ཐོག་བྱེད་པ་ཡིན་ཡང་ང་ཚོར་བོད་པ་ཡིན་པའི་འདུ་ཤེས་དང་མི་རིགས་གཅིག་པའི་འཚོར་སྣང་སླུ་བ་མེད་པ་ཞིག་ཏན་ཏན་རང་རྒྱུད་ལ་སྐྱེད་འབྱུང།
མཐའ་མར་ཁ་བརྡའི་མཇུག་སྡོམ་དུ་སྔར་གཏོང་བའི་དྲི་བར་ལན་འདེབས་རྒྱུ་ཕར་བཞག་དེ་ལས་ལྷག་པའི་དྲི་བ་མང་པོ་ཞིག་སེམས་ལ་གསར་དུ་འཁོར་འབྱུང། འདི་ནི་ཤེས་ཡོན་དོན་མཉེར་ཅན་དང་རིགས་པའི་རྗེས་དྲངས་པའི་བདེན་པ་འཚོལ་ཐབས་ཀྱི་ལམ་གྱི་རང་བཞིན་ཡིན་པ་འདྲ། བཅས་དེ་འདྲ་བའི་གནད་དོན་མང་པོར་བསམ་གཞིག་བྱེད་རྒྱུའི་གོ་སྐབས་བཟང་པོ་དེ་ཐོབ་པར་དགའ་འཚོར་དང་སླར་ཡང་མཉམ་འཛོམས་བྱེད་རྒྱུ་ཡོང་བའི་རེ་སྨོན་ཤུགས་ཆེན་བྱེད་བཞིན་ཡོད།
Written by Tenzin Rabga, MK Chicago Host
We had a very vibrant and thought-provoking discussion following the screening of the film “Valley of the Heroes” by Khashem Gyal. Beginning with the subject matter of the film and the issues and themes addressed therein, our discussions branched out on to a variety of topics ranging from the role of language in our community, to the ways in which we can assure its preservation.
Many of the participants were struck by the similarities of the challenges faced by the residents of the Hualong community in tackling the loss of Tibetan language, and the ones faced by the communities here in the US and elsewhere in the diaspora. Despite the stark differences in the life style and the socio-economic situations, both of these communities are faced with the same fundamental threats of the inevitability of the loss of spoken and written Tibetan. We also delved into more fundamental explorations of the role of language in the formation of individual as well as communal/national identities. Clearly, ours appears to be inseparably tied to our culture and the notion of being a Tibetan, yet it was worth noting that we had the entirety of our discussions in English while still retaining a sense of shared community.
We also touched upon the deep connections between religion and our identities, how most of us think of ourselves as Tibetan Buddhist and how being Tibetan is almost synonymous with being Buddhists. However, as we saw in the film, there are others in our community, minorities who are not Buddhists, with an undeniable sense of Tibetan-ness.
Our discussions naturally led us into practical issues of ways in which to ensure that Tibetan language is preserved and passed on to the next generations of Tibetans born in exile, particularly in the west. Many of the younger individuals in attendance shared their experiences of benefits of immersing themselves in the community and spending prolonged times in Tibetan societies in order to retain their language usage and abilities. Amongst the slightly older individuals there was an imminent sense of urgency and uncertainty regarding ways to introduce and instill a sense of appreciation for the Tibetan language in their children.
As with many such discussions surrounding fundamental issues of personal and communal identities, we were left with more questions to ponder than with answers to seek solace in. However, we were all very encouraged by the initiative and the eagerness with which we were able to gather and have this very intimate and candid discussion about issues of shared concern and importance. Of the many suggestions and opinions, we felt that it was important, as we navigate these terrains both individually and as a group, to try and carve out our own paths and reach our own realizations as to the importance of Tibetan language and culture, and find conducive ways to ensure its preservation for the generations yet to come.
Written by Katie Cunningham
Machik Program Intern & Rising Senior at Sidwell Friends School
After greeting Khabda-goers at the door of Machik headquarters in Washington DC, I was eager to sit and watch Khashem Gyal’s Valley of the Heroes, despite having already seen it a week prior. The second time around I was even more grateful for Khashem’s extreme bravery in highlighting two major contemporary changes-- language loss and Islamic practice in Tibet -- in one documentary. I explained my fascination with the color-coded subtitles differentiating between languages within communities and even families with the group, which consisted of Tibetans and non-Tibetans alike. We discussed topics ranging from how language is a part of one’s identity and what this change means for the future of Tibet, but the conversation was dominated by the exploration of the dangers behind a singular narrative.
Young Tibetan men and women shared their childhood beliefs that Tibet was mountains and yaks and prayer flags, but Khashem’s film brilliantly shattered those stereotypes by redefining Tibet as a culturally and religiously diverse region. While the Tibetan Muslim community may only account for 0.4% of the population, it is important to recognize their existence and importance.
I was inspired by Machik’s third Khabda and its attendees, and cannot wait to see what Khabda 4 holds!
Written by Khando Langri
Machik Program Intern & Senior at McGill University
Machik’s third Khabda showcasing Tibetan filmmaker Khashem Gyal’s documentary Valley of the Heroes was the first event I have ever attended which curated content in a way that fosters global discussions about Tibet. Valley of the Heroes is an intimate portrait which explores memory, language and place by filming everyday life in a Tibetan Muslim community in Hualong County. In interviewing people from different generations, from elders all the way to children, Khashem shows us the radical transformation of the way of life of the people of the community. Language is the axis of the film, site of both trauma and resilience. Khashem exposes us to the complex relationship community members have to both Tibetan and Chinese, the former taught in makeshift schools by volunteers in an attempt to preserve culture and the latter acting as the language of upward social mobility. This film allowed us to have a better understanding of Tibet’s contemporary languagescape and discuss it as a group in a respectful and nuanced way.
What moved me the most was seeing a Tibetan mosque and more broadly how Islam shapes Tibetan landscapes. This urged me to interrogate my own understandings of Tibetanness and reconsider who I think about when I think about Tibetans inside Tibet. I am beginning to realize that Tibetan identity is vibrant and diverse. Having a space that allows Tibetans and allies to explore the multiplicity of Tibetan experience and identity such as Machik Khabda is truly exciting and I look forward to future discussions!
Written by MK East Rutherford Host
Overall, our first Machik Khabda in East Rutherford, NJ was very successful. Before we watched the movie, one of our participants, who also happened to be a Tibetan teacher, gave us a little briefing about Tibet since we had non-Tibetans in the room. Then, I went through my PowerPoint and talked a bit about what Machik is and all the different programs within it. During the discussion portion, everyone was very engaged and had a lot to say. I asked the questions directly from the discussion guide that was provided.
There was one scene which seems to have caught the attention of most people. It was the part where one of the volunteer teachers took out a written letter from his student and how her parents were not allowing her to go to learn Tibetan because her Chinese was getting worse. In the letter she was asking him to forgive her for missing class and that if he could continue to support her in learning Tibetan even though her parents wouldn’t allow it.
Right from the beginning, we talked about the language and how us students being that we are living in a country with great resources, unlike the kids from Hualong, are taking it for granted and that in some ways we are more privileged than most, yet many of us Tibetan students fail to utilize these resources. However, nowadays, more Tibetan youths are becoming aware and are doing the best they can to preserve every aspect of what it means to be Tibetan.
We also talked about the different dialects within Tibet. Many of us or the majority of the Tibetan who are born and raised in India, only speak U-key. Not understanding these different dialects creates an invisible barrier amongst us Tibetans. Even though it is a different dialect, it is still a Tibetan language and if we learn and make the effort to educate ourselves on all the different dialects within Tibet, it could allow us to grow as a community.
As for the religion, we talked a bit about the Tibetan Muslims and the estimated population of Tibetan Muslims. We also watched a little documentary on YouTube about the history of Tibetan Muslims. It was very interesting because I didn’t realize the quantity of our Tibetan Muslim community within Tibet and in exile. Our older participants who have resided in Tibet also mentioned that in Tibet, there is a large population of “Lhasa Muslim” and how everyone there is very respectful of each other’s religion. That there is mutual respect between Buddhists and Muslims. We concluded that it is more than possible to coexist with different religions and that our Tibetan youth should be taught or be more exposed about the different communities within our Tibetan population, being that it's only 6 million.
Since it was my first-time hosting Khabda, I thought that the discussion guide was very helpful and it not only helped me to engage with younger students but also with non-Tibetans who can relate to our situation. I learned so much and was able to connect with the people around me. I am sure the participants have learned and enjoyed just as much as I did. Everything went smoothly and thank you for this opportunity! ☺
Written by Quinn Lehrman
Machik Program Intern & Rising Senior at Sidwell Friends School
Khabda was my first work experience at Machik. It was an introduction to the six weeks I planned to spend drafting letters, writing blog posts (like this one!), and fostering discussions about Tibetan culture. As a white American living in a western bubble, there wasn't much I could tell you about Tibet coming into Khabda. I hoped that Saturday's Khabda discussion might shed some light on Tibet. I realize now that I was initially looking for a way to generalize Tibetans. I wanted to develop a description of the "model Tibetan" that I could give to curious friends and family members such as, "Tibetans are Buddhist herding people who spend their lives on mountains and river valleys." This is the sort of stereotype that I expected to have by the credits of "Valley of the Heroes" by Khashem Gyal. I ended up with a better understanding of Tibet's diversity and realized that even some Tibetans are new to some of this cultural variety.
"Valley of the Heroes" focuses on a community in Hualong County, in Amdo, eastern Qinghai Province. Being a majority Muslim area, its people defy the stereotype that Tibet is an entirely Buddhist nation. Having very few preconceived notions about the Tibetan people, this diversity wasn't nearly as surprising to me as to the Tibetans in the room. After the film concluded and the discussion began, one of our visitors commented on the shock she felt upon seeing a Tibetan Muslim for the first time. She described the portrait of Tibet that her immigrant parents had painted for her since she was a child. She pictured a valley of Yaks and happy Chuba-wearing people sipping water from snow capped mountaintop streams. A Tibetan wearing a Taqiyya was a sight that didn't fit this image. Even Tibetans that had been previously quiet in the discussion shared that they identified with her sense of surprise. These people were infinitely more knowledgeable about Tibet than I, yet they had just discovered a completely new side of their people.
An explanation for this confusion was quickly proposed. Tibet is spread out, both geographically and population-wise. Communities are often many hundreds of miles apart, and it's through this geographic isolation that new dialects and differing religious practices may form. I walked into Machik Khabda searching for an answer to the question "who exactly are Tibetans?” and Khabda instead left me with no simple answer to that question. To do justice to the cultural diversity of Tibet, it is necessary to have an evolving understanding of Tibet and its people. I hope that I can use valuable discussions like Khabda to develop a deeper and more complex view of Tibet.
Written by Tenzin Dickyi
Machik Program Intern & Rising Senior at Colgate University
This past weekend I attended my first Machik Khabda, both as a Program Intern with Machik and as a curious mind. The idea of Khabda is something that I am familiar with in an academic context. Reading, viewing, or experiencing a work of art, something someone has created and then going on to discuss it with peers is usually something that I look forward to, but also creates a lot of anxiety for me. I’m not the biggest fan of speaking in big groups, but this experience was different. I was talking about a film about Tibetans in Tibet, made by a Tibetan, talking with people who are Tibetan or who care about Tibet. Although nervous to speak up in this group, I had many thoughts and questions stirring in my mind as I watched The Valley of the Heroes by Khashem Gyal.
I had high expectations for this film because of what I heard from people about Khashem and his work. While these expectations were fulfilled, I thought the film would speak more to Islam in Tibet. Just the sheer fact that Kashem Gyal was able to create a film about both language and religion is incredible. Both are sensitive subjects, but Kashem still went on to document them. The idea of language loss is something that I think about often because I do not know how to read or write in Tibetan either. It was inspiring to see the community in the film step up to address a problem they see in their society. When I was young I did not care to learn how to read or write in Tibetan because of the pressure I felt to speak English and do well in school. As I got older and began to reconnect more with my Tibetan-ness, I started to blame my lack of knowledge on my surroundings and not needing to learn. However, this film showed how important the preservation of language, and in turn culture, is for Tibet and Tibetans.
I thought it was incredible how Kashem used different colors for subtitles to distinguish the Chinese from Tibetan languages. While I could not understand most of the Tibetan in the first place, it was nice to know when Tibetan was being spoken and when Chinese was being spoken. The different colored subtitled also showed how the two languages, in certain parts of Tibet, are interchangeable in conversation due to the bilingualism of the people. It depicted how often, in this area, Chinese is used in Tibetan households and exactly how prominent the language loss is. There were some people born just a few decades apart and their first language was completely different. As someone at the Khabda highlighted, it was crazy to see how fast the local language switched from Tibetan to Chinese.
In addition, seeing Tibetan Muslims was really interesting to me. A year ago, I had no idea that Tibetan Muslims existed, let alone the fact there are mosques in Tibet. Seeing Tibetans who practice a religion other than Buddhism was eye-opening to the fact that not all of Tibet is Buddhist, as people often believe. My family has painted a picture of Tibet that depicts it as mountainous and green with yaks roaming around. However, Tibet has many different people living there. David G. Atwill speaks to the exclusion of Muslims in Tibet’s narrative in his book Islamic Shangri-La. Atwill highlights how, after a few generations of Muslims presence in Tibet, Tibetans in Tibet viewed them as Tibetan. However, visitors to Tibet consistently labelled them as non-Tibetan. Khashem’s film opened up conversation about deconstructing an homogenized idea of Tibetans and what what Tibetans do in Tibet.
Written by Viviana LaBarca
Machik Program Intern & Rising Senior at Montgomery Blair High School
As a new Program Intern at Machik, I was both excited and a little nervous for the third Khabda on June 22nd. I had an understanding of the event but lacked the experience regarding the conversational aspect of Khabda. I am so grateful to share my first experience participating in Machik Khabda, and I hope my perspective does justice to the intellectual, cultural, and social value of the event.
After helping to set up Khabda DC space, I was eager to sit down and enjoy a film. The fourth floor of Eaton House is a great space for the screening of a 2013 Tibetan documentary: Valley of the Heroes.
If Khabda were a street, it would be a two-lane road with surprising views at every turn. Not only was Valley of the Heroes an insightful and entertaining film, but the people with whom I watched the movie added new perspectives I would not have encountered otherwise. As I am not Tibetan, I had an outsider viewpoint and lacked the cultural context that others were able to provide in the after-film discussion. For two hours, we shared and listened to each others’ views. I cannot emphasize my appreciation for Khabda enough. Knowing that people at other Machik Khabdas around the world were also watching and discussing Valley of the Heroes only added to the magic of my first Khabda. I hope to celebrate many more Khabdas in the future and engage with new people every time.