Potala Palace, Lhasa, Tibet
I met ten refugees from Tibet not too long ago. They had been given political asylum in France and were happy to be here while missing their homes, their families, and their friends.
They told me how they had walked across the Himalayas from their homeland to Nepal. It had taken them over a month on foot while being shot at “like rabbits” by the Chinese. They mentioned how some who had started on this venture didn’t make it and how others made it, but with a limb or a foot amputated because of frostbite.
Tibetans crossing Himalayas seeking freedom in Nepal.
Nine men and one woman each had a story to tell about the sacrifices and struggles they made and why they left everything behind in search of freedom. Many of us in the Western world take freedom for granted until we hear first hand accounts about what others have gone through in search for what we’ve always had.
I’ve had a soft spot in my heart for Tibet since I was a teenager. I think it stems back to my days at UTEP. I believe it’s the only university campus in the US where the architecture is modeled after Tibetan and Bhutanese monasteries . It’s a beautiful campus. Some people may know it because of the film Glory Road about UTEP winning the NCAA basketball championship in 1966. (No, I was too young to be in college at that time! Uh um, okay I did go there a few year later, but this isn’t about me!)
Monks on a waterfall.
I welcomed these ten Tibetans to France and told them I was happy to meet them. I told them about the Dalai Lama coming to my window one morning. They seemed amazed until I explained why; I lived right in front of the Tibetan Center in Paris.
Yak Donald’s & 7 Eleven in Nepal.
I asked one young guy how he learned English so well (only one of them spoke French) and he said that he learned during the seven months that he stayed in Nepal before coming to France. Seven months to master a language, his English was beautiful. Sad to say, but he spoke better than a lot of Americans do. (It’s true!)
Maya Muses: I’ve always dreamed of going to Tibet (I use to pretend I was there when I walked from one class to another on my college campus) and hopefully one day I will. When Tibet is free once again under its own leadership and the Dalai Lama can return to Lhasa, I will go and celebrate that day! When will that be? I don’t know, but soon I hope!
Photo Credits: Flickr and Personal Photo