The Tibetan Jewish Youth Exchange (TJYE) was established to enhance the cultural identity of both Jewish & Tibetan youth through informal education & to forge links between the Jewish & Tibetan diaspora communities. We actively help these communities' youth movements to empower young people, that they can become leaders & make a difference. This blog will record the continuing work of the project's volunteers, including Jewish volunteers in India & Tibetan leaders on exchange in the UK.

Monday, July 11, 2005

Hello! Andrew and I have been in Dharamasala about 2 weeks now and having a fab time although didnt expect so many cows, dogs and monkeys in the streets! Last week was the Dalai Lama's birthday so there were 3 days of celebrations; dancing, chanting and praying. We started running a few sesions before the big birthday but have now had a little break. We did a review of Longsho in the SWOT and had 12 leaders attend - which was really great. The main concern currently is the lack of money - Longsho have no money to even plan the smallest event or mailshot really.
We have also looked at structure and giving leaders roles and how the regional chapters would work. Today we are going to look at marketing and raising the awareness of Longsho since there are so many Israelis around which is a great opportunity.
Wishing all the best to Richard and Charlotte - keep in touch. And hope everyone is well especially after the dreadful london events a few days ago. Lots of love Anna xx

Wednesday, July 06, 2005

Hello there, it's Rich. It's the day before me and Char go off to Kalimpong and i'm just trying to figure out how to use this blog thing! Sorry for submitting this but thought it would be good to know what we are doing before we go. Preparations are going well...can't wait to get out there!

Saturday, July 03, 2004

My giardia is gone and I too have left Dharamshala. Now that my volunteer work is finished, I have a month to travel. So I'm in Manali, staying in a gorgeous guesthouse among apple orchards, pine trees and fragrant but (I'm told) barely potent marijuana bushes. I had a very relaxing day today, straying out only for a shabbat walk along the river in the nearby forest. The main street is best avoided, truly a North Indian Costa del Sol for Israelis. It's not the Israeliness I have a problem with, but rather the synthetic atmosphere. My friend Jay has a theory that it's easier to perceive God/Being/Now in the country than the city because modern urban life is designed to cater for our desires. So too with tourism. It's obsevers' paradox. We come looking for authenticity and our very presence prevents it. All the restaurant and shop signs are in Hebrew and trance music blares from every interior. I just ate dinner in the Third Eye Cafe - Ayin HaShlishit if you prefer - watching an Indian waiter dance exactly like an Israeli and listening to another speaking Hebrew better than mine. There was to be a trance party tonight, started yesterday and continuing on into tomorrow. But someone forgot to pay off the police and they shut it down about 5 this afternoon. For me, Manali is a stop-off, en route to the deserted, desertivied Spiti Valley. I'll be travelling with four very nice, very chilled Israelis, exploring the villages, walking in the mountains and moving on to the equally remote region of Ladakh.

On a different note, on Sunday 11 July (also my birthday) you can catch the UK debut of Tibetan film We're No Monks, showing at Screen on the Hill in Belsize Park. It's about the Tibetan community in McLeod Ganj, where I've been volunteering the last two months. The director will be giving a Q&A session afterwards. Funds from ticket sales go to the Tibetan Jewish Youth Exchange (the project I've been working with) and the Tibet Relief Fund. Email if you're interested in going.

Sunday, June 27, 2004

Tuesday 22 June - I was well enough to come in and lead the day's session. Phantok says the one he ran on time management and a typical day in the office went well. So today we did communications skills, using the WUJS programme. We did exercises to show the communicative importance of voice, movement, eye contact, use of hands, confidence and behaviour. It was games all the way through, so attention or interest wasn't a problem. Some of the leaders had trouble with maintaining an open posture, saying they felt more comfortable with crossed arms or legs. I told them it's important to feel natural, but if they can get over that discomfort it's a good thing. After the session I went to see an American girl I'd met, Stephanie, who is a professional campus organisation coordinator and trainer and who's volunteering with the Tibetan Woman's Association. We arranged that she would run Wednesday's session on Effective Meetings while I went to the hospital to get my mystery illness checked out. So I spent early afternoon briefing her.

Wednesday 23 June - Doctor told me I have Giardia and gave me antibiotics, saying it will get better withing 48 hours. When I got into the Longsho offices at the end of the morning, Stephanie was finishing off her session. I could tell as I walked in that it had gone extremely well. She's very professional, doing this sort of thing so naturally. Everyone's attention was perfectly focused. She gave me her notes afterwards and summarised what she'd done: types of meetings, process versus content, planning and agenda, discussion sequence, facilitator role, how to cope with difficult people and conflict, how to bring introverts out of their shell, what to do with points if you're running out of time... She said she's got a huge amount of resources and passed me and Longsho business cards. Anyway, a real success. Cheryl Sklan told me before I flew out here, that my role was to organise the best seminar possible and to know that it might mean networking and bringing in outside facilitators.

Thursday 24 June - Final proper day of seminar. I ran a morning session on budgeting which finished with an exercise in financial planning for an imaginary project. There was some misunderstanding about some of the techniques - such as planning fundraising to build on current resources and doing accounts in the middle of the project to allow you to replan the remainder - but by the end everyone had understood. I'd organised an afternoon computer skills session at the LHA (Louisiana Himalaya Association), where a trained instructor worked with the participants on Word and Excel. They drew up some financial spreadsheets, so it was reinforcement of some of the stuff they'd done in the morning.

Friday 25 June - Review and evaluation. Played some games, gave a memory refresher on each of the seminar sessions and handed out evaluation forms. The final question on the forms was "What are the first 3 things the new office workers should do when they take over?" Here are the answers I got:

- Recruit new leaders / members (x3)
- Be punctual (x3)
- Fundraising (x2)
- Be committed (x2)
- Be true to yourself
- Be active most of the time, especially during camps
- Use effective methods from seminar
- Don't be lazy
- Know Longsho structure, aims and objectives and work towards them
- Be effective in communicating and understanding
- Show initiative
- Meet expectations of fellow members
- Be flexible
- Update Longsho plan

I've got the rest of the evaluation forms to bring back. We should go over them to help us with future volunteers.

One of the new initiatives that has come from this seminar is the board of trustees, close friends of Longsho in a position to see the bigger, longer term picture and offer advice. Longsho are thinking of 4 specific people who will be invited when the new office workers take over, later in the summer. I said I would speak to those I could when I get back.

Monday I will be going to the leaders' meeting to say goodbye to everyone and to speak to Phantok about getting the report finished and sent off. Then I'm off to Manali and Ladakh.

Monday, June 21, 2004

Thursday and Friday went so much better. Sessions were on the idea of setting up a Longsho board of trustees, what funders want and how to approach them, and writing reports. The board of trustees session led to another constructive discussion. But the feel of the sessions themselves were really positive. I used some more typical youth movement approaches: more games & more interaction, and trying to draw conclusions out via questions and personal examples, rather than imposing the answers on them myself.

I was supposed to meet all the participants on Sunday for a trip together to a swimming pool, but I've got a bit ill, flu and a dodgy stomach so I told Phantok I wasn't coming. I took him through the plans for today's session on time management - quite a strong programme, taken mainly from the World Union of Jewish Students website - in case I was too ill to run it. Afraid I did need the extra day to recover, so trusting all went well. Am hoping I'm going to be well enough for tomorrow and the rest of the week.

Wednesday, June 16, 2004

The good news is we just finished the second day of seminar - covering the quite substantial rootkeeper method of analysing organisations and looking at the future of Longsho's steering group - and both today and yesterday ended in quite involved discussions in Tibetan, something I could leave the participants to get on with, knowing they're dealing with the issues and addressing questions that are facing Longsho.

The bad news is I got some feedback passed on via Phantok, that so far the sessions have been really useful in terms of content but that presentation has been quite dry. OK, it's not really bad news as such: of course I'm glad the participants mentioned it to Phantok and he mentioned it to me, because now I know and it gives me the opportunity to put things right. At the same time, it's natural that I'm a bit disheartened and wondering how I can improve. I think the subject matter itself has been dry (but important), but that is not a valid excuse. It is up to me to inject a bit of life into the sessions and to set the tone for everybody else. Phantok suggested getting a bit more animated. Tomorrow is more games based, and as good a time to start as any.

Tuesday, June 15, 2004

All the Longsho leaders are back from camp, which was very successful, and we started seminar today. Phantok and I are running it for more people than I expected. The guy from Darjeeling couldn't make it, but there are two Dickyiling leaders here and four or five from Dharamshala. As far as I'm concerned, it's a good thing. It means more trained people around the office and ensures the knowledge isn't concentrated in the hands of a few on whom everyone else has to depend. Sessions today were on hopes, fears and expectations and getting an overview of the regions. They're going to give short presentations on their respective regions in just an hour from now.

The last few days I've also edited the first few pages of the report Phantok's started. Just checking the English and expression really - it's still his work.