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Location: Dharamsala

After a full day of volunteering, we went down the gathering hall of Lha to hear a presentation by Lobsang Yeshe, a Parliament member of the Central Tibetan Administration (CTA), or the Tibetan government in exile. Lobsang la is extremely well informed on Tibetan history as well as Sino-Tibetan relations, having conducted extensive research over the course of many decades. He also has many years of teaching experience, allowing him to gradually guide our students to the complexities of the Tibetan political issue. As a member of the CTA, he explained to our students the difficulties inherent in representing an occupied country while in exile. His presentation began by talking about the archeological evidence of human habitation on the Tibetan plateau beginning at least 6,000 years ago and the unique genetic adaptations of Tibetans which allows them to live at such high altitudes. He went on to explain the tremendous cultural impact of Buddhism which fundamentally altered the course of Tibetan history and culture. Lobsang la explained the “Middle Way Policy” of His Holiness the Dalai Lama, which seeks to allow cultural and linguistic freedom for the Tibetan people while still remaining under the People’s Republic of China. The talk provided crucial context to help our students understand the conditions of Tibetan people both inside Tibet and in exile which will continue to inform their experiences throughout the trip.