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! ☺