Young Tibetan Women embark on a Leadership Stint; A report on TWLP 2009
"Whether there are innately female leadership styles... is not really the right question. It is more important to ask why there has been so little attention paid to women leaders over the years as well as why the styles of leading more often exhibited by women are particularly useful at this critical moment in history."-Charlotte Bunch
The fifth annual Tibetan Women's Leadership Program (TWLP) commenced on the 25th December 2009 at Bangalore. Organized by Tibetan Women's Association (TWA), 27 young female participants from 10 different colleges and 6 states in India; Tamil Nadu, Andhra Pradesh, Karnataka, Gujurat, Delhi and Himachal Pradesh were enthralled to embark on yet another intensive five day leadership training that seeks to empower the young Tibetan women on the leadership front. The training sought to give the right impetus to mould the young college going girls, now novices as the potential future leaders.
The opening ceremony graced by the presence of some significant personalities of the Tibetan society; Mr. Gyari Bhutuk, (member of TPIE) as the chief guest, Mr. Kunga Dorji (Tibetan Settlement Officer) as the guest of honor, Mr. Dhondup (Administrator of Tibetan Youth Hostel) as the special guest. The key note addresses by the dignitaries created a fine imprint on the minds of the participants and this was indeed a source of inspiration. TWA's President, Kirti Dolker Lhamo gave the introductory and a welcome speech in which she expressed gratification over the keen interest shown by the young Tibetan women in converging on a learning ground and stressed on the dire need for the younger women to carve a niche pedestal as leaders with an unfeigned fervor and a renewed conviction.
Over five days of activities we aimed to create a space for self-expression, reflection and creativity to facilitate the exploration of different aspects of leadership. The program not only seeks to inspire participants, but also to increase their awareness of and confidence in their own leadership skills, and encourage them to use these skills in their lives and communities. The activities that included role-plays, participatory workshops, interactive discussions and documentary film projections were highly interactive and participatory.
The first day training was handled by TWA trainers; TWA General Secretary, Tsering Yangzom Oshoe, Research and Media Officer, Dhardon Sharling and Program Coordinator, Nyima Lhamo, on topics such as communication skills, goal setting, road to success, visualization and time management. The participants gained access to some of the basic leadership skills which every individual has but has not really applied to their day to day lives. TWA's President was the observer to the 5-day training and the sessions concluded with her feedback on the manner and matter of the training. TWA's Vice President, Samten Choedon, and TWA's Admin and Sponsorship Officer, Tenzin Dickyi, willingly joined in as trainees since they are new to TWA. In the evening we screened two of TWA's documentary movies: "Breaking the Shackles" and "Behind the Sea". Afterwards our president introduced the participants to Tibetan Women's Association and expounded on its origin, mission and activities followed by feedback from the participants.
On the second day Dhardon Sharling, conducted a day-long training on building media skills. TWA believes that it is extremely important that the younger generation to be able to face and tackle the media whenever the need arises. The participants were given a lot of group exercises such as doing interviews, writing press-releases, engaging in a live-panel discussion, organizing events for the media to broadcast live, etc. The screening of "Dispatches; Undercover in Tibet," gave the participants an overview of the hidden reality of life Tibetans must endure under Chinese occupation and how the nomadic way of life is being forcefully wiped out as native Tibetans are displaced and forcibly resettled in concrete camps. They no longer have their animals, no jobs, no money, no future.
Day three of the program saw Prof. Xavier, Regional Institute for Cooperative Management, Bangalore cover topics on inter personal skills such as the attributes of an effective leader, situational leadership and leadership styles. Prof. Xavier shared his expertise with the participants by telling many true stories relating them with his topics for the day. After dinner, we screened of the documentary movie "A Quiet Revolution" which showed how Tibetan women have transformed the violence and brutality of the Chinese invasion into a community of compassion and non-violence amidst the complexities of the modern world in exile. The theme of the movie touched the participants so deeply that some of the girls took it as an inspiration to do their best for the Tibetan cause.
Mr.Chandrashekhar, also from Regional Institute for Cooperative Management, Bangalore was our trainer on day four. The participants along with TWA's executives and staff had a wonderful learning experience. Mr.Chandrashekhar's presentation included important topics such as self esteem, motivation, positive thinking and team building. The day flew by swiftly as the training was filled with interesting group activities in which the participants enthusiastically joined in.
The evening of 28th December was dedicated to as the Climate Night and TWA members shared their experiences of attending the COP-15 UN Climate Summit at Copenhagen as a part of the Tibetan delegation to highlight and accentuate the case of 'Tibet the Third Pole.' Two documentary films related to combating the climate crises were screened and the participants and trainers engaged in making a climate pledge.
The final day saw a day-long 'Practical Evaluation' wherein the participants divided into six groups engaged in practical exercises. While Dhardon Sharling moderated the group exercises, Dolkar Lhamo, Tseyang Oshoe and Nyima Lhamo assisted during the group discussions. As an example; one group was given the topic of nomadic displacement. One side represented the nomads and the other side had to represent the Chinese position. Both the groups sat down on the dialogue table and discussed to bring about a solution to the pressing problem. The entire exercise was videotaped followed by a group review of their discussion. There was special emphasis on the use of body language and the leadership qualities they have gained from the past four days. Everyone had an opportunity to evaluate, critic, speak and learn from this exercise. All benefited from this challenging activity. The training concluded with oral feedback from all of the trainers and participants.
Finally TWA executive and staff members awarded Certificates of Participation along with a small gift from TWA as a token of gratitude and appreciation for showing their interest and taking part in this workshop. Lastly the participants had an opportunity to give TWA written feedback about their experience in this leadership training workshop. TWA was happy to learn that such trainings have proved helpful for these young women who have the potential to become future leaders of the Tibetan community. As expressed in some of the following quotations:
Tseten, Chennai, "I never knew TWA is engaged in all these social political activities. This training changed my perception of TWA as a small organization settling matrimonial issues to one of the most powerful and empowering women's organizations in Tibetan society."
Pema Tendol, Sahara College, "I was happy to take part in this workshop where i could see how women can do things differently and even better compared to our male counterparts."
Tenzin Dickey, Chennai, "Women can do much more, not only for themselves, but for everyone when they get encouragement. We know who we are but sometimes we tend to forget because we are involved in our daily lives outside the Tibetan community and this kind of training helps to remind us of our roots."
We are confident that the strands of empowerment ingrained in these young women will make them scale heights of success. Both the trainers and the trainees mutually agree that the TWLP 2009 was indeed a grand success. There is now no looking back for this project of TWA that is evidently reaching notches higher on the success graph and which eventually will leave no stones unturned to make an 'Empowered Women for an Empowered Nation.' This young Tibetan women's leadership training fits in the paradigm of TWA's empowerment goals and the successive trainings also herald the presence of women in the leadership frontier achieving much in both the domestic and international realm. The 5th annual TWLP is a potent milestone in inspiring the young Tibetan women to effectively and successfully tread the path of leadership. "Its now time for she-roes"