Thursday, August 11, 2011

Preserving the Culture of Tibet

This blog comes from our high school apprentice, Tenzin, whose internship here has given her new insights into her own Tibetan heritage.

One of the most encouraging and fascinating aspects of the Museum is its portrayal of the survival of Jewish life before and after the Holocaust. Despite the centuries of struggles Jews faced, they have still managed to preserve and maintain their heritage and culture, and most importantly, their identity. Seeing how Jews have held on to their traditions despite all the opposition they faced has made me see a connection between the Jewish Diaspora and that of Tibetans today.

In 1959, many Tibetans fled to northern India and Nepal, including my dad’s family. My dad’s family moved to Nepal, and they had to start completely new lives. This was the Tibetan Diaspora, and it meant that Tibetans had to establish new lives in new communities, just like Jews have repeatedly done for centuries. Today, the struggle Tibetans face relates to not only the loss of a homeland, but also the preservation of our heritage. It is sad to hear that Tibetans are becoming minorities in their own land; they don’t have the freedom to practice their own religion and culture, just like the Jews didn’t during certain periods of history.

I have now lived in America for 9 years, and it has become increasingly difficult to preserve my heritage. I go to a school where there are few Tibetans and live in a neighborhood where there are few Tibetan families. Growing up in these circumstances, it becomes easy to abandon one’s customs. But, being part of the apprenticeship program at the Museum has inspired me to maintain my traditions and culture. I hope that Tibetans, especially the next generation and generations to come, can find the courage, strength, and determination to preserve the Tibetan heritage as Jews have done throughout their history.

Images: photos from the Tibetan Institute of Performing Arts

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