TibetXChange provides a unique opportunity for young Tibetans living in Gangtok, the capital of Sikkim in the Indian Himalayas and Ravangla, a Tibetan refugee settlement in South Sikkim, to spend time at Swansea University leading lectures and discussions on the cultural, political and economic marginalisation of Tibet, the growing trend of self-immolation among Tibetans desperate to draw attention to their situation and the importance of continuing peaceful dialogue with the Chinese authorities regarding the future of Tibet. The exchange will give young Tibetans an opportunity to develop their confidence, skills and capacity to become community leaders

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What is TibetXChange?

TibetXChange is an international youth exchange programme between students from Swansea University and young Tibetans living in the Indian state of Sikkim which is located in the Himalayan foothills on the border with Tibet.

The idea for TibetXChange came about when students from Swansea University travelled to Sikkim in October 2013 for an interdisciplinary fieldcourse and met with young Tibetans living in the capital Gangtok. Many were shocked to learn about the situation facing the people of Tibet and the threat to Tibetan culture, religion and identity and returned to Swansea determined to do something to create an opportunity for young Tibetans to talk about their country and its future. Swansea University students have set up a  Tibetan Society and young Tibetans in Gangtok have established an organisation called Wings of Tibet to take forward their work together.

Young people from Swansea, Wales and Gantok, Sikkim discuss the future of Tibet

How will TibetXChange work?

TibetXChange is run by the young people involved in the project with the support of Swansea University and the Central Tibetan Administration (CTA) based in Dharamsala. Young Tibetans living in Gangtok and Kunphenling Tibetan Settlement in South Sikkim will undertake an intensive leadership ttraining course provided by the CTA. Five young people will then be selected to travel to the UK and spend two weeks discussing Tibetan culture, identity and politics with a wide range of different audiences in an international context. The young people will live with the students they met in Sikkim to reduce costs and facilitate the exchange of information and ideas.

Why is TibetXChange worth supporting?

The future of Tibet, as well as Tibetan language, culture and identity, depends on the next generation of Tibetans, most of whom were born in India and have had no opportunity to visit their homeland. TibetXChange provides a unique opportunity for young Tibetans to develop their skills and capacity as community leaders and to engage in international dialogue about the future of Tibet. TibetXChange also provides a unique opportunity for students at Swansea University to learn more about important international issues, hear about the experience of young people growing up in very different social, cultural and political environments and develop their own leadership and communication skills.

Tibetan Buddhist prayer flags blowing in the wind

How can I support TibetXChange?

We would like the first group of young Tibetans to come to Swansea University in March 2014. In order for that to happen we need to raise funds to pay for airfares (approx. £4,000), visas and travel documents (approx. £500), internal travel in India and the UK (approx. £500) and living expenses (£100 per person). Any money we raise over and above our target will be used for additional activities during this period. For example if we raise an additional £500 then we will be able to take the young people to London to meet with the All-Party Parliamentary Group for Tibet and other organisations.

How will my support be rewarded?

Every single person that makes a pledge to TibetXChange will receive our heartfelt thanks expressed as a personal thank you on our Facebook page, on Twitter and in our project report which will be presented to the Central Tibetan Administration and Office of the Dalai Lama by Professor Heaven Crawley from Swansea University during her visit to Dharamsala in the North Indian state of Himachal Pradesh in June 2014. 

In addition those who pledge £10 or more will receive a special gift handcrafted by Tibetan exiles living in and around Dharamsala.

Our biggest supporters will be given the opportunity to spend the day at Swansea University with the young Tibetans and other supporters and will be our very special guests for an evening of delicious Tibetan food, wonderful music and of course an opportunity to dance!

View of Gangtok