Game of Tibet


Below is a guest post by Rignam Wangkhang, who is interning in the office of a Canadian Member of Parliament this summer as part of the Canadian Parliamentary Friends of Tibet Internship Program.

Hello world. This is my inaugural Lhakar Diaries post, and I feel like it comes at a perfect time, with it being Saka Dawa and all. The name is Rignam Wangkhang, a Canadian-Tibetan (or Tibetan-Canadian) graduate of Queen’s University from the quaint town of Belleville, Ontario. As this is my first entry, I will keep this short and sweet, writing only about my current experience with the Parliamentary Friends of Tibet internship program on Parliament Hill in Ottawa (the capital city of Canada).

Basically, my understanding of the way society works derives from my infatuation with the now finished HBO TV series “The Wire”. Widely considered the best TV show of all time, it is more documentary than television and I find myself agreeing with how they portray every aspect of society it analyses. This is our world in a nutshell:

Now I fancy myself as a pawn, probably not the smartest of the bunch, but enough to get by. I find myself always wondering how I can begin to impact the change I’ve always dreamed of, and struggle to understand where and how to start.

My life goal is to facilitate a free and independent Tibet, prosperous but tied to its roots, with a balance of church and state that will be the model for every other nation to come. With such a lofty goal like that against the Big Red Machine, it’s easy to just throw my hands in the air, put on an episode of mindless drivel and move on with life solely looking out for number one. That is not my pattern though, I’m not programmed like that, so I sought out ways to realize my dream, piece by piece, one step at a time, just like a pawn.

One day I had a conversation with a cousin of mine who works on Parliament Hill. He told me of how much just his presence (and due diligence) on the Hill has opened the eyes of so many towards the situation in Tibet. When you’re up against a machine with an endless bank account and hands in so many pockets, you need to take a different approach from the norm. It requires a personal touch, because once someone interacts with a passionate Tibetan, their worldview can inherently change.

The Parliamentary Friends of Tibet internship that I am currently a part of, has allowed me to develop those personal relationships with influential individuals and organizations. When legislators hear my name, their ears perk and instantly they inquire, eager to hear what I have to say. One poignant example was at a parliamentary reception, where I introduced myself to a group and instantly an individual (who was a Policy Advisor) stated, “You’re a Tibetan intern, right?”  Tibet and Tibetan interns have become a staple in and around the Hill, slowly creeping into the Canadian political lexicon bit by bit. By putting a face to the name and humanizing our political plight through personal dialogue, we have allowed for legislators to second guess what they thought they knew about Tibet. And in this vicious never ending game against a king of kings, it’s a start.