By Lobsang Wangyal
McLEOD GANJ, India, 12 October 2017
Fourteen members of the organisation Tibetans of Mixed Heritage have gathered in McLeod Ganj, the heart of the Tibetan Diaspora, to consolidate their place in the Tibetan community and to engage themselves to contribute to the Tibetan community and the cause for a free Tibet.
An audience with Tibetan spiritual leader the Dalai Lama opened their third meeting on Monday.
Tibetans of Mixed Heritage was the brainchild of Thubten Samdup, a Tibetan-Canadian, former CTA staff, and past UK representative of the Dalai Lama. The organisation was founded in 2014 as a global network of people who are of Tibetan descent, with both Tibetan and non-Tibetan heritage.
The group aim to provide a platform for members to explore and develop their identity as Tibetans of mixed heritage and serve as a launchpad for their engagement and contribution to the wider Tibetan community.
President of the Central Tibetan Administration Lobsang Sangay welcomed the group to McLeod Ganj, saying they are all as much Tibetan as any other Tibetan. He briefly explained the Middle-way policy of the CTA, and described the opportunities for them to serve the Tibetan community through the Tibet Corps, a CTA organisation which coordinates a volunteer workforce for the Tibetan community.
Sangay invited the group to an official dinner after meeting them and the press.
Kunsang Kelden, 32, from New York City, is one of the co-ordinators of the group. She has been politically involved with the Tibetan cause for 17 years, working in different organisations.
Her Tibetan father met her Kalmyk mother in New York. She works in her family-run shop, the oldest Tibetan boutique shop in New York.
“His Holiness told us that we should focus on issues that unite us, not just as a Tibetan community but also to work towards the oneness of humanity,” Kelden said.
Two Dhondup brothers from Idaho, US, attending the meeting are children of a Tibetan father and an American mother, who met in McLeod Ganj when she was here to make a documentary film.
The Dhondups said they have awareness about the Tibetan issue. The older Tashi Dhondup, 37, had served in the Central Tibetan Administration in the Finance Department through the Tibet Corps Programme.
“I have no interest in politics. My expertise is in entrepreneurship. So I contribute through what I am good at,” Tashi said.
As one of the other co-ordinators, he said that he will put in efforts to make the group stronger for better actions.
The younger Edward Dhondup, 27, works at Google in the fibre distribution service. He said that he will find out ways to be more engaged.
The two Dhondups are children of a Tibetan father and an American mother, who met in McLeod Ganj when she was here to make a documentary film.
The first gathering of Tibetans of Mixed Heritage took place in London, UK, in 2014, followed by the second gathering in Zurich in 2015.
The 14 participants at the Dharamshala gathering are from India, Italy, The Netherlands, France, UK, New Zealand, Canada, and the USA. The ages of the participants range from 14 to 41, and include three sets of siblings.
The aim of the conference is to provide participants with a space to meet together, share experiences and engage in conversation about identity, history, politics and culture. The programme will continue until Friday, 13 October, with workshops, meetings, and guest speakers on different issues.