BUILDING BRIDGES SUMMER CAMP ( 2nd to 6th June )
Tibetans and Indians have lived side by side for more than five decades and yet they rarely get a chance to bond, connect and learn about from each other. Building the bridges is a learning program which is designed as a camp bringing young people, typically school students from India and Tibet to foster a relationship of respect, care and sharing. A total of 36 students, 18 from Vasant Valley School, New Delhi and 18 from Tibetan Children’s Village School, Upper Dharamsala participated in the five day long summer camp from 2nd to 6th June.
Vasant Valley School, New Delhi , established in 1990 , is a self financing day school . The school campus spreads over eight acres and has fully equipped Science and Computer laboratories. The school aims to create a ‘community of well rounded individuals, where a spirit of cooperation and mutual respect exists among the students and teachers.’
The camp was organised by Empowering the Vision (Envision) and Ritinjali organization based in New Delhi. Envision aims to support, motivate and empower young Tibetans to take their place in the community with dynamism , specialized skills , good careers and entrepreneurship. Ritinjali is firmly rooted in it’s philosophy of providing a helping hand wherever needed , in times of immediate crises , to pre-empt social and community issues and to promote responsible citizens wherever possible.
The team was blessed by His Holiness The Dalai Lama on the first day of the camp. His Holiness stressed on the importance of the relationship between India and Tibet and expressed that it is vital to understand the history of the relationship so as to have a clear understanding. There after the students embarked on a journey of building bridge between the two community. They were paired as buddies and grouped together to carry out different activities which required communication and co-operation. The program involved trekking , painting , meditation, Yoga practice and games. The students also did the community mapping, met people and interviewed different people and in the process understood some of their problems. They worked on specific theme –like water, food culture, gender, cultural practices around festivals, rituals , livelihoods and others . It was followed by the session of collating learning from mapping and preparing for the presentation. The presentations reflected their experience of meeting the communities, myths and stereo-types , and interconnections. The students presented through art, music , theatres and others . It was presented in front of community leaders (both Indian and Tibetan ) who then gave their feedback on the presentation and ideas and suggestions for the action. The action included street drama, street protest against blowing horn in public area, creating awareness among local villagers on the harmful effects of burning waste , environment preservation and sharing ideas. On the final day the students also had a interactive session with the Department of Information and International Relationship’s minister Ms. Dicki Chhoyang where the students asked on wide range topics including Tibetan struggle, about the department and on environmental issues.
Building Bridges is an initiative to bring together communities. The students eventually gelled up well and thereby embark on the course of friendship which will hopefully remain forever.