The Tibetan Nuns Project, the organization with which I used to volunteer and which inspired this project, has recently updated their website. It looks wonderful – so much more sleek, beautiful, and personal.
Also, there is a page featuring some of the stories I read when I conducted my research in Seattle! These are the very bios I encountered in 2010 that spurred my idea for RVP. Take a moment to look through them – these are the women who will be featured in Restored Voice (except that their narratives will be much longer, and their photography will be present as well).
You will see immediately why I find these women so inspiring:
I read about two hundred stories in Seattle. Many of the nuns had similar sentiments and experiences, which my limited consciousness can only keep separate with notes present. So throughout my day, their words swirl inside me in a newly knit literary vascular system, blending together into one beautiful, tragic, pumping, vital story, a second pulse to my own. I’m saturated. I must pass them on.
Visiting TNP’s new office in the International District was hugely satisfying. It felt so good to be back in the sea air and greenery of that place, and the TNP office itself has relocated to my favorite part of Seattle. They’re in a beautiful historic building right across from the endlessly wondrous and slightly frightening Iwajimaya Village, with twelve-foot tall windows that overlook SeaTac and Beacon Hill. Seagulls warble right outside, riding thermals high above the industrial part of the city. In case it isn’t obvious, I love Seattle and was thrilled to see her wet, hilly, beet-eating self again (beets… everywhere). I even got to spend time with Susanne Peterson, the unendingly energetic and vivacious woman who repeatedly calls herself a dork while whacking around the the office’s macs. Susanne ran TNP when I volunteered in ‘10, and she was the first to give me the go-ahead for this project (I believe her exact words were, “Do it.”). The whole thing made me wish, and not for the first time, that Seattle were just across the Mississippi instead of the entirety of the American West. Our country is way too big.
I’ve been thinking about the nuns while I try (and try and try) to write at home, to brainstorm more, and to plan my journey from cafes filled to the brim with St. Louis-style hipsters (they’re actually very nice) and espresso. It’s one thing to try to transport myself to Dharamshala and to the nuns’ vivid, smiling faces with my imagination. It is quite another thing to be surrounded by beautiful, almost tangible images of the women themselves. TNP Seattle’s office’s high ceilings leave plenty of wall space for the collection of prints from Jeff Davis’ trip to the nunneries, as well as shots that the nuns themselves have taken for the fundraiser-aimed TNP calendars. I cannot express how wonderful these calendars are. And to think that these women – women who, historically, have been intentionally kept illiterate in Tibet – took these photos on digital cameras, to support themselves!