Please see our new page, featuring the young women who are making Restored Voice a reality here on the ground in Dharamsala.
Having a chance to be an employer, for the first time in my life, has been as fascinating as it has been satisfying. Not because I’m exercising authority – I’ve hardly needed to, as the women I’m working with are as passionate about the project as I am – but because both of these young women are, like me, still navigating young professionalism, and adulthood in general. In some ways, they’re ahead of me.
Palden-la has an impressive professional resume that outstrips mine (and if you tell her this she blushes and giggles and refuses to accept the praise), having worked and/or interned for a number of Tibetan organizations as well as handled communications at IBM. Which, if you hadn’t guessed, means that she’s the person in India that you spoke with when your computer had a problem. Despite working what I imagine to be a frustrating, repetitive, abusive job, Palden-la only has fond memories to share about the conversations with Americans she held, people that she remembers down to the name, location, and occupation. And while she is dedicated to Tibetan issues, she’s more apt to talk about music, design, cooking, and fashion with you when you traverse McLeod at her side.
Choekyi-la is three years my junior and is taking a gap year to work, volunteer, and figure out her career path. Although she has experience in interpreting and is a fine, budding poet, she studied Biochemisty (and again, when you raise your eyebrows at this, she immediately laughs and dispels any admiration you might have by insisting that she was dreadful. I doubt this). Her focus, organized mind, sincerity, and warmth make for an ideal interpreter, and when we work together, I feel like I can almost understand the essence of the Tibetan conversation being held, as Choekyi-la channels my communication into her mother tongue. And the ani-la (nuns) take to her, with the intensity of her gaze and her easy, mischievous smile – as if you’re sharing a private joke.
Both of these young women, with their eclectic experiences and interests, reflect myself and the generation I am a part of at home. All of us are young, educated, passionate, and trying to shape a new space for ourselves in the changing, damaged world we live in. And, like me, I think they would be unsatisfied doing things the way things were done before them. Just as I have built this project and am learning from it every day, I am also guiding these two ladies through a learning experience, broadening their professional experience and skills. We share professional endeavors as well as recommend new authors and NGO’s to each other. I count myself lucky to have found them, to have the chance to teach them, and learn from them as well.