The Ninth Buddhist Nuns Empowerment Program:

Tibetan Women’s Association is very proud to share with you all the success of hosting the 9th Buddhist Nuns Empowerment Program for 30 nuns from Jangchub Choeling Nunnery, Mundgod in South India from 2nd-10th April, 2017.

The TWA coordination team reached Mundgod around the midnight of the 31st April and on the wake of 1st April, they headed towards the nunnery to observe the training venue and strategize the one week training for the nuns. With the help of RTWA Mundgod, and the nuns from Jangchub Choeling, we were able to get the training venue polished for an effective one week and got the participants registered for the training while few other nuns from the nunnery along with RTWA Mundgod distributed the training kits we had brought for the participants.

Day.1, 2 &3: Introductions/Orientation/Gender Sensitization
The first half day of BNEP2017 kick started with an introductory remark by the president of TWA, Mrs.Dolma Yangchen, covering the introduction of TWA and the roles and responsibility of our Association since its foundation. The introduction was then followed by a short speech by the Head of the Administration of Jangchub Choeling Nunnery, Ven. Lobsang Youdon la on the overall expectations from the workshop.

The session was then taken up by TWA’s Project Officer, Ms. Tenzin Choezin with the assistance of Ms.Tsering Choezom led the introductory session/Ground Rules/Group Division/Orientation Round and the pairing of secret friends.
From the next half of the first day till the third day of the training, Ms.Tenzin Choezin led the training on intensive Gender Sensitization program for the nuns. The training began with the question- “Is there Gender Equality in the Tibetan community?” and the answers as it follows made spaces for us as trainers and trainees to discuss the clear cut differences between sex and gender which further enabled us in making it easier for the participants to understand the Gender socialization and its cultural impact on Gender discrimination and inequality through its very grassroots perspective. The training was made very participatory in nature and was inclusively fun filled with activities and discussions all till the end of it. And the question of Gender Equality in our community and beyond still remained a topic of concern in our sessions that followed thereafter.

Day.4- Building Effective Communication Skills:
On the fourth day, Ms.Tsering Choezom (General Secretary, TWA) led the training on “Building Effective Communication Skills” for the nuns. And the training was less of a listening and more practices at the ground, therefore the nuns enjoyed it thoroughly and alongside they have had lessons to grab from these activities. We are quite affirmed to be saying that the nuns have had the simplest form of training as per our module. We tried facilitating the nuns on these very important topics so that they can be able to learn to slowly converse in a less conflicting communicational way in the near future.
Day.5: “Public Speaking skills”
On the fifth day, after the group requisition received from the nuns we initiated a slight change in the schedule and added one more day of training on Public Speaking skills which was initially not in the plan. Ms.Tenzin Choezin led the session for a day, dealing the basic skills to deliver speeches or talks in public.

Day.6&7- Conflict Resolution:
The day sixth and seventh was led by two of the renowned trainers of our Tibetan Community on Conflict Resolution. Mr.Karma Lekshey and Mrs.Yangkyi from Tibetan Centre for Conflict resolution which we believe is one of the most important topics for training in our community and the other community at large. Starting from minor conflicts between two individuals to a larger group, a lot of conflicts can be resolved with the individual’s choice to do so through the non-violent communication (nvc). Therefore, as per our observation the nuns have had a very intensive learning platform and vice versa.

Day.8: Practical Outbound Program
The nuns who are divided into four groups were told to pick up any subject to work on practically for their projects, and were given a minimum budget to use and put into effect the lessons they had learned and also given a platform to project their team work, leadership abilities and time management
Day.9- Farewell:
And for the last day, we had the farewell session where the nuns were asked to give us Oral/written feedback about the training and the trainers, then followed by a small concluding remarks from the president, revelation of secret friends, distribution of certificates and for the last, a farewell dinner for all the working committee of the nunnery, participants, RTWA-Mundgod and the TWA team.
And as the saying goes, “All is well that ends well” We believe that this end will have new beginnings in the lives of the nuns and we are more inspired to further expand the leadership training to a broader audiences from different nunneries in the near future.

Intern Testimony- Sophia Tenzin Slater

sophiaWorking to Make Tomorrow Better Than Today

 As an intern at the Tibetan Women’s Association (TWA), I am learning much about the Tibetan exile situation through helping publish the “Dolma” annual magazine, writing reports, editing books and articles, and brainstorming for campaigns and projects. What inspires me most at TWA is the work ethic of the women here. From morning to evening they labor tirelessly to meet their deadlines, collaborating to extensively document the Tibetan situation with a specific focus on women. I have never before seen such a dedicated and committed group of women working for a common cause, and this has made me even more motivated and eager to contribute by using my skills as a native English speaker.

It is easy to read about human rights violations that are taking place, hear a few speakers share their experiences, and then say you “know” the Tibetan situation. But to work alongside Tibetans who are on the front line, fighting every day for their country and culture, is completely changing my perspective. I am seeing the power of writing, of poetry, of speaking, and of spreading awareness. I am realizing that those organizing or taking part in the marches and protests are not the only ones who are important for Tibet. The women at TWA are the quiet heroes, working every day to help empower Tibetan women and raise awareness of the Tibet situation.

As a 17-year-old American born and raised in Tokyo, I have seen communities in Japan come together to help those affected by the March 11, 2011 Tohoku earthquake and tsunami. Traveling to India and working with the women at TWA is my second opportunity to see the efforts of the community to try to find solutions, in this case with regard to the Tibetan exile situation. The situations in Tohoku and Dharamsala are very different but the one common denominator is community. In their individual ways, people have pulled together and organized projects and initiatives to better their situation. The human factor is the same: every person is striving for relief from his or her predicament, and looking to improve the situation. In the end, people are simply working to make tomorrow better than today.

            Working at TWA is allowing me to see these commonalities across different cultures and countries, and I will be forever grateful for the opportunity that I have been given.

Intern’s testimony – Carolin Wichtermann

Carolin-1TWA through the lens of an intern

From April to July I was able to get an insight into TWA’s work as an intern at the headquarters. Climbing the narrow stairs up to the hidden TWA office on my first day of my internship, I did not know at all what to expect. At the end of these stairs there turned out to be some impressive experiences.

Trying to match my skills to the tasks, I was assigned with assisting the ‘Legal Empowerment of Tibetan Women in Exile’ Project. This program lasts one year and had just begun when I joined it. We wanted to strengthen women through an approach which was new for TWA: the legal provisions for the women in Exile. The program not only stresses on the importance of official birth- and marriage certificates, the Indian Penal Code and procedural provisions in cases of violence against women, it also provides a glimpse into Human Rights and international women’s rights. Since I studied law, it was a great challenge to implement justice not only in theory but in the daily lives of exile women. In contrast to sitting at university and just repeating the theories we were taught, as part of the Legal Empowerment Training, I had to orientate towards the actual needs of the women in exile.

And this is in my opinion one of the biggest reasons why TWA does such a great work: it is a well-established and democratically organized institution and therefore knows what the people in exile need the most. The executive members have extensive experience in working with the Tibetan community and therefore know what issues to target and the support women in exile need. This greatly differs from organizations run by foreign institutions that sometimes do not have the experience and sources of information to provide the support that is needed.  And this contact to the women outside is even noticeable when you sit at a desk inside the office.

Also a very interesting experience and so different from what I normally do in Germany was being a substitute teacher at Stitches of Tibet:  This program of TWA gives women the opportunity to learn stitching and basic knowledge in English, Math and computing. I experienced how hard it can be to transfer knowledge and to make even fractions lively and interesting. At the same time it is a great feeling to see these women’s concerns and their interest in the program.

What stood out to me the most was hearing the feedback from the legal empowerment training in the first five regions: a third of the women think that they are born as women due to their bad Karma. As long as being a woman is seen as bad Karma it is worth still fighting for women’s rights.

I am very thankful to TWA for giving me insight into their various works. I plan to spread my knowledge and understanding of the Tibetan issue back in Germany. With a coordinated effort, I believe we can address the suffering of people all over the world to help build a better world together.

Tibetan Women's Association intern Vicki Robinson

Intern testimony: Vicki Robinson

Tibetan Women's Association intern Vicki RobinsonVicki Robinson, TWA Intern from Canada
November 2011 – February 2012

My time working with TWA has been exciting, enriching and fulfilling. I have worked with most staff and executive members in a number of different capacities appropriate to my skills. My main work has been mentoring, designing trainings and delivering trainings. I have also worked with one or two other NGOs in the McLeod Ganj area when they needed help in these areas (on loan from TWA). I have also done a lot of writing and editing work as required in English – reports, reviews, news releases, Voice (newsletter) and Dolma publication.

Specifically, I have worked with the Grants Officer researching potential funders for capacity building and administrative expenses of TWA. I have also written training materials and trained staff and leadership trainees in project proposal writing and implementation.

With the Empowerment through Action desk I have again written training materials and trained staff and leadership trainees in areas such as Goal Setting, Team Building, Time Management and Basic Communication Skills. I have also researched potential funders for TWA concerning training and women in leadership.

With the Women’s Environment and Development desk I have assisted in designing assessment documents and researching options for organizations who might appropriately receive the TWA Losar gift. I also worked with her in writing many of the documents and informations needed to take to the COP 17 conference in Durban.

While interning at TWA one becomes involved in many aspects of the diverse work of the NGO and a welcomed and appreciated member of the TWA team.