by Yangchen Tenzin Nangpa*
As a Tibetan-American living in North America, I want my Chithue candidate to be a mission-driven leader who instills a passion for Tibetan identity and the Tibet cause through zealous advocacy and activism. Among the crowd, Thondup Tsering is a candidate who lives his life in pursuit of promoting our cause through advocacy and youth engagement. Thondup la is a mission-driven leader in the truest sense of the word, and that is why he is my candidate for North-South America Chithue.
With a rising Tibetan population in North and South America, we now have over thirty Tibetan associations that are working closely with the Central Tibetan Administration (CTA) through the Office of Tibet to further the Tibet issue. As someone who has been working closely with one, I believe one of the growing challenges that our diaspora community faces is inclusive participation of Tibetan youth to further the Tibet cause and bolstering their pride in Tibetan identity. Providing meaningful opportunities and leadership programs for our youth are essential for strengthening Tibetan identity among our youth. While many Tibetan communities in the U.S. are now attempting to undertake this challenge, Thondup la has been successfully tackling this challenge as a community organizer and a leader in western Massachusetts for nearly twenty years.
Over the last two decades, Thondup la has worked diligently to build awareness and support for Tibet by consistently putting Tibet in the forefront of all major news outlets in Massachusetts, particularly western Mass. Thondup la is no stranger to networks of Tibet support groups across the U.S. and elected officials like Congressman Jim McGovern and other state representatives in Massachusetts. His proactive lobbying efforts in Massachusetts and Washington DC contributed immeasurably to the introduction and thereafter passing of the 2019 “Reciprocal Access to Tibet Act,” followed by passing of the “Tibetan Policy and Support Act” in the House.
In addition to his ongoing advocacy efforts, Thondup la has effectively mobilized Tibetan students in the Pioneer Valley area to organize political, social and cultural events on and off college campuses so that the issue of Tibet is well-known to western Mass residents and students. I have witnessed this firsthand when I was at Smith College (2006-2010) and constantly sought Thondup la’s guidance when organizing socio-political and cultural events to raise awareness about Tibet. Through his relentless activism for Tibet and unwavering mentorship for Tibetan students, Thondup la has built an inclusive environment for Tibetan youth to advance Tibet activism in western Mass and to uphold their pride in Tibetan identity. Thondup la has inspired and empowered many young Tibetan students to take on leadership roles during and after college so that they become agents of change in our communities and take the issue of Tibet to the next level.
Thondup la’s strategic plan of actions are non-aspirational and practical objectives because he has already built solid foundations to achieve them if he is elected Chithue. To strengthen advocacy for Tibet, for example, Thondup la intends to create new connections between elected officials and Tibetan associations, and further explore internship and leadership opportunities for young Tibetans. These goals are attainable considering Thondup la’s track record of cultivating relationships with elected officials and providing a platform for Tibetan youth to engage in leadership roles. So as we head to the polling booths on January 3, let us vote for a Chithue who walks the talk when it comes to strengthening identity, advocacy and activism for Tibet.
* Yangchen Tenzin Nangpa is a Public Defender in the Commonwealth of Massachusetts. She is also the Co-Founder and Director of the Tibetan Youth of Boston (TYB).