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Brandeis University

Publication Date

Fall 2010

Program Name

Nepal: Tibetan and Himalayan Peoples


How is the identity of a people living in diaspora maintained? The people of Tibet have been living in exile since the Chinese occupation began in 1959. As a result the Tibetan people have been working to find ways to maintain their identity, religion and culture. In Many ways the current Tibetan plight can be compared to the experiences of the Jewish people in exile and diaspora.

Culture, a religion, a people and an identity in exile and diaspora is both maintained and changed. The youth are the future and bonds that hold everything together, they are the carriers of the lessons, the stories, the traditions, the history, and eventually the wisdom; the youth are the core of the culture and the culture is dependent on the youth. Especially in exile and diaspora, the youth organizations keep the entirety of the culture connected across any distance. The Tibetan Jewish Youth Exchange (TJYE) and Longsho are organizations that have been created to provide support for the perpetuation of a distinct Tibetan identity. TJYE utilizes social tools and models of the thriving Jewish youth movements. In particular, TJYE focuses on informal education for providing social and cultural connections for the Tibetan youth in exile.

In this project I explore the importance and centrality of youth education to the perpetuation of a culture in exile. I ask why it may be helpful for communities in exile to have vibrant youth organizations. In doing so I analyze the work of TYJE and Longsho while making comparisons to the North American Federation of Temple Youth (NFTY), one of the Reform Jewish youth movements in America. As an aspiring Jewish youth worker, I base much of the comparisons between my fieldwork studying TJYE and Longsho in Dharamsala, India, with my personal experience in NFTY in the United States. I also look at the modes of support and the ways in which the growth of a Tibetan youth movement had contributed to the perseverance of the Tibetan people in exile.

Finally, I conclude with the realization that TJYE, and the connection between the Tibetan and Jewish people could provide a model by which other displaced communities around the world could look to for an example of survival through the formation of connections and sharing of experiences.


Human Geography | Sociology of Culture


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