LONDON: The first ever gathering of Tibetans of mixed parentage has started in London last Friday with over 20 registered participants aged between 18-40, from UK, France, Germany, Switzerland and North America. The gathering, held with the support of Tibet House Trust, is an opportunity for Tibetans of mixed heritage to meet, share experiences and engage in conversation about identity and culture. The gathering continued over the weekend of June 21-22, 2014 with a varied formal programme and invited guest speakers.
The representative of His Holiness the Dalai Lama to Northern Europe, the Baltic States and Poland, Thubten Samdup, opened the gathering on Saturday with a welcome address and also read personal messages to the participants from His Holiness the Dalai Lama and Sikyong Lobsang Sangay. “I am encouraged to see that this gathering is finally taking place. If we are not able to bring together this generation of Tibetans of mixed parentage into our community, the next generation is lost. This programme gives me hope,” said Thubten Samdup.
“I’m very excited about this gathering as I’ll be able to connect with other mixed Tibetans like myself,” said Kunsang Kelden, an organiser and participant of the gathering. “My Mother is Kalmyk Mongolian and my Father is Tibetan. I was born in New York and grew up in New Jersey, I don’t speak Tibetan but I am trying to learn. I think there is a certain stigma about being mixed but the number of Tibetans of mixed heritage reflects the reality of our situation as a diaspora, and as an exile community. To me this gathering is about bringing those together people to focus on what we have in common which is Tibetan identity.”
Participants took part in the two-part workshop on identity run by mixed British Tibetan Pemma Fox, as well as listen to guest speakers such as European Chitue Wangpo Tethong who is mixed Tibetan and Ladakhi. Canadian-Tibetan activist Lhadon Tethong gave a talk via Skype to the participants and UK based Tibetan artist Ugyen Choephell gave a workshop on Tibetan art and culture. On Sunday afternoon the participants received a special tour of the Tibetan collections at London’s Horniman Museum.