Kalon Tripa Lobsang Sangay and His Holiness the 14th Dalai Lama © 2012 strengthofasnowlioness. All rights reserved.

Strength of a Snow Lioness: The Basics

Tibet’s decades-long struggle for liberty is famous around the world. Less well-known is the tale of how the Tibetan government in exile and large numbers of Tibetans abroad have worked to foster not only the freedom of the homeland from which they have been driven, but also the practice of democracy among themselves.

- Dr. Lobsang Sangay, Kalon Tripa of Tibet

The present Chinese occupation of the Tibetan Autonomous Region is a product of Mao Zedong’s “liberation of the Tibetan serfs” that commenced in 1949. Mao’s noncompliance with the Seventeen Point Agreement, by which China had accorded political and cultural freedoms to Tibetans under Chinese authority, led to the 1959 Tibetan revolt in which thousands were killed and thousands more subjected to human rights abuses. His Holiness the 14th Dalai Lama, leader of Tibetans and supreme leader of Tibetan Buddhism, fled to India to seek refuge and administer nonviolent negotiations with the People’s Republic of China (PRC). The absence of Chinese cooperation has forced His Holiness to remain in an exile community in Dharamsala, India ever since, which has also become a destination for many Tibetans who trek through the Himalayas to escape continued persecution at home.

PRC efforts to integrate the Tibetan Autonomous Region into the Chinese landscape have instituted significant obstacles for the future of Tibet, though the Tibetan community has striven to persevere in a peaceful manner. His Holiness was awarded the Nobel Peace Prize in 1989 for his commitment to nonviolent resistance, a practice the Tibetan community embraces by confronting Chinese brutality with calls for human rights and awareness of Tibetan suffering in the international community. The government in exile has also made peaceful efforts toward democracy, most recently demonstrated by a separation of religious and political power. Accessible Tibetans elected Dr. Lobsang Sangay, a Harvard Law graduate born in exile, to become Tibet’s first secular Kalon Tripa in 2011.

An anomaly of the nonstate world, Tibet nonviolently endures political exile and violations of its people while pursuing democratic and diplomatic advances. Among the multitude of freedom movements that cling to survival, Tibet offers a unique path in terms of maintaining international support, a united diaspora, and cultural identity without resorting to violence.

The world’s most successful resistance movement possesses a largely unexplored female support system that propels exile life and educates many of Tibet’s movers and shakers. Tibet is currently enduring a merger of conflicting forces that perpetuate Tibetan continuity: the unity driving Tibet’s freedom movement, the diversity emerging from recent democratic transition, and the religious and cultural tradition that upholds Tibetan identity. This project will explore how women influence this merger not only to offer an independent look inside an often neglected, largely polarized issue, but also to offer constructive findings to other resistance movements and the women who contribute to them (See examples: Egyptian Blue Bra Protest, Leymah Gbowee, or Aung San Suu Kyi).

To conduct this research, I will combine academic research with travel to Northern India (home to Tibetans in exile) to better understand Tibetan dynamics. Through volunteer experiences, interviews, and time spent with Tibetans and those who contribute to Tibetan causes, I will report my findings via freelance articles and on a multimedia documentary website that will employ slideshow, photo film, filmed interview, interactive visual, sound bite, and blogging media.

I will arrive in New Delhi, India on February 7th, 2012 to visit the Tibetan community residing in Dharamsala, among other places in India. I will return to Washington, D.C. on May 29th, 2012 to assemble my research media, apply for further funding, continue my study of Tibet in the United States, and work to make the entirety of my research available online by the end of August 2012. My travel itinerary is contingent upon the opportunities that become available and within my means. In addition to an internship with a Tibetan NGO,  some of these choices include refugee resettlement organizations and established settlements, orphanages and youth programs, women’s and men’s educational programs, political prisoner rehabilitation initiatives, the Tibetan government in exile, archival organizations, the Tibetan chamber of commerce, the Tibetan parliament in exile, monasteries and nunneries, academic experts, and conversations with Tibetans.

This project is run entirely on personal funds and family/friend donations. With respect to Chinese and other resistance efforts around the world, I hope to highlight the relevance of this story to all nationalities and believe an academic, alternatively funded, freelance journalistic approach serves this goal best.


  1. Ron Motley

    Wow. Your description is so wonderful and yet still leaves me wondering about your experience. I follow this every day and just know we are all thinking of you and your journey.

  2. Sir Mix A Lot

    I hope your enjoying your adventures my friend. Keep up the good work and journey. Can’t wait to read more on this fabulous blog!


  3. Makito90Yt89

    Very, very nice page! :)

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