Dear friends of Restored Voice Project,
Having been back in the USA for a few months, I am feeling back in the groove – though very much missing the Tibetans of Dharamsala!
Here are some updates for you:
I am about to launch a new site for the project, so this site has been and will continue to be under construction for a while!
Additionally, the book is well underway, with almost all of the interviews translated and transcribed by the fabulous Choekyi-la. She continues to provide clear and beautiful translations for the editing process that will turn interviews into narratives for the book.
Now that the writing and publishing are underway, this page will go from blog\-style to website-style, and there will be less exciting updates as there were before during the fundraising and research on the ground. However, stay tuned for releases of Restored Voice Project’s media: photography of the women and their home, and two videos of the ani-la of Dolma Ling praying together as a community and practicing their fiery dialectics!
Until then, enjoy your summer, monsoon, mango season, fishing season – whatever it is where you call home! RVP is working hard and thinking of you.
Cheers to forward movement!
Ani Yangchen takes a ride down the natural slide outside Dolma Ling, with intern Palden in line for the next go
Restored Voice Project’s research phase is reaching its close, with only a little over two weeks left in McLeod Ganj, and India!
The journey has flown by, and simultaneously also seemed take a lot of time and patience. January and February were full of set-backs, whether they be related to health, inclement weather, or the logistics of creating contacts with the nuns themselves. I knew, as I made my plans, that there would be struggles; I simply had no way to predict what they would be! But arriving with contacts made and plans laid out has been a saving grace – if I had started from scratch upon arrival, there would have been absolutely no way I could have finished my research goals in three months.
And if I had hadn’t done that preliminary outreach, I wouldn’t have found my interpreter, Tenzin Choekyi, who has been the final and most necessary piece to this new kind of puzzle. Choekyi possesses the perfect energy for this project – she is genuine, collected, reserved, and warm all at once. She is present. She invites your confidence and affection within minutes of meeting her. With her working hard at my side, RVP has already progressed past its goal (in terms of number of interviews), more than tripling the amount of interviews I had in the first seven weeks of my stay. The next few weeks give us time to meet even more amazing women than planned – and to plan for the journey home.
Restored Voice is entering into the last stretch of its field work phase. Today the final damp, chilly gasp of winter is passing through these hills. Rain and cold keep us prisoners around densely smoking scrap fires or in cozy cafes with fogged up windows. I watch the weather move around me in a way I never can in St. Louis. At this altitude, the clouds creep wetly through town and across neighboring hills and mountains, shrouding familiar sights in mysterious glamour. Somehow, a clear view of mountains in the sun humbles me, but when those same mountains turn misty, I feel excitement and restlessness. The sense of impending adventure arises. I’m unsure why this is and it has me wondering about past lives again. Spring should be starting up any day now, and as beautiful as the snow has been on the deodar pines and temples, I am indeed ready for a steady stream of warmth and sunshine.
Losar, the celebration of the Tibetan New Year, came and went relatively quietly this year. Lobsang Sangay, the Sikyong (sort of like a PM), asked his community in exile not to celebrate Losar with the traditional dances and music this year, in light of the ever-increasing number of self-immolations in Tibet. If you ask Tibetans around Dharamsala how they enjoyed their Losar, as I did many times, most of them will say, “Ah, it was okay. This year, not so big. We are sad.” Last year, and this year also, Chinese officials forced Tibetans to celebrate, and taped the farce to show how “happy” Tibetans are in the occupied region.