Friday: Pema, a Longsho leader who works at the Tibetan Welfare Office (the municipal authority) took me to various appointments in the area around the library, where the offices of the government in exile are. I met with someone from the Tibetan Centre for Human Rights and Democracy, who told me about all their research; someone working at the Environment and Development desk in the government, so I saw what a govenment in exile actually do (by necessity, not much - mainly monitoring and pressuring); and a public relations guy from the Tibetan Medicine and Astrology Institute. Also saw the monastery and the library. The whole morning felt quite official and well-organised and again I got a bit of insight into the Tibetan community's life via their institutions.
Saturday: Phantok took me to the local Tibetan Children's Village (TCV). Hannah Freedman, who is about to start as a teacher in England, came along. We sat in on a class, gave food out and played with some incredibly cute 2-4 year olds and kicked a football around with some of the older ones on the sandy pitch. At the nursery we were told some of the children's stories by the head 'foster mother'. One example: a teenage mother's arrest in Nepal, by policemen scared of the neighbouring Chinese authorities; a subsequent prison birth; a bribery to get both mother and child out; and now here is the kid, in front of us, playing by the stairs; meanwhile the mother is getting closer to the child and is making more frequent visits.
Today: In the morning Phantok took me to the Norbulingka crafts village. It was set up by the Dalai Lama as a 'diaspora'-based centre for Tibetan arts and heritage. Longsho is very much in line with its mission to promote and preserve Tibetan culture in exile. This evening I experienced my first Longsho leaders' meeting. There were about a dozen leaders, for whom I ran a programme on programme-writing. Used the TAMAR (Target group; Aims; Methods; Arrangement; Review & results) model many of them had learnt before. Gave them time at the end to work on the sessions they're writing for summer camp. Noticed some overlap among a couple of the sessions and alerted Phantok and Namsay, who are going to take a look and coordinate. We might sit down and talk about it in the next couple of days. Tomorrow Phantok, Hannah, Rob and I are hiking.