15 September 2014
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"Before I went to the protest that day, I stood in front of a picture of the Dalai Lama, and I swore an oath: ‘If I am arrested, I will not give the names of any of my friends.’ They put me through eight months of interrogation. They burned cigarettes on my face. They made me stand in ice for four hours, until my skin froze into the ice, and then they pushed me forward. They gave me electric shocks on my tongue. They told me they were going to kill my father and mother. After eight months, I had a trial. Two guards stood next to me when I testified, and they hid electric shocks in my sleeves in case I said something they didn’t like. I was sentenced to four years. Sometimes I’d get so hungry I’d eat toothpaste. And sometimes I’d get so thirsty, I’d drink my urine. When I finally got out, I weighed 39 kilograms."

(Dharamshala, India)

15 September 2014
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"It was March 5th, 1988. There was a prayer festival that day, so we thought it would be a good day to protest. It was entirely peaceful. We were only shouting three things: ‘Long live Dalai Lama,’ ‘Free Tibet,’ and ‘Bring Dalai Lama Back to Tibet.’ First they fired tear gas, and then they started shooting. A girl standing next to me got shot in the heart. We ran into the temple, but they came in and kept shooting. I saw three young boys get thrown off the roof. I was shot, but I managed to escape, and two Tibetan doctors helped remove the bullet. One of the doctors worked for the Chinese army, but she still helped me as a Tibetan. Soon there were posters of me hanging up all over town. They said I was a dangerous monk. My friends dressed me in women’s clothes. For a week, I wore lipstick and rings and long hair. But at one point I tried to visit my mother, and that is when they found me."

(Dharamshala, India)

15 September 2014
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I think a wonderful symbol of the Tibetan culture is the behavior of the stray dogs around their monastery. Most everywhere else I’ve traveled, stray dogs have been very skittish around humans. Here, they seemed right at home.

(Dharamshala, India)

15 September 2014
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We were eating lunch with the door open, and a monkey started to peek through the door.’Isn’t that cute?’ we thought. 
'Hello monkey,' we said. 
Then the situation quickly deteriorated. 

(Dharamshala, India)

14 September 2014
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"I came to Dharamshala when I was nine years old. Back then, we weren’t allowed to learn the Tibetan language in school, so my parents sent me to India. For a whole month we walked over the mountains. It was very snowy, and we only walked at night. One night I almost fell off a cliff, but one of the adults grabbed onto my hand and pulled me back up. It’s been twenty years now since I last saw my parents. Just a few months ago, I had a really bad stomach problem and had to go to the hospital. Even though I’m an adult, I’ve never missed my mother more. Being that sick made me realize that I have nobody watching over me."

(Dharamshala, India)

14 September 2014
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"I think the great fear of every Tibetan is that our story will die out. It’s been over fifty years now since Tibet lost its independence. Our monasteries have been destroyed. The Chinese language curriculum is being mandated in our schools. More and more Han Chinese are moving into Tibet— building homes, building malls. I think now we are all starting to think that the Chinese are too powerful and that the dream of returning home is fading away. I think our mistake was that we didn’t keep up with the world. We held on to the monastic tradition too tightly. We didn’t embrace modern education, and so we weren’t connected with the outside world. Because of that, we lost our freedom silently. I think our challenge now is to educate our children in a modern way, so hopefully they will be better at sharing our story."

(Dharamshala, India)

14 September 2014
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"The right to protest is very limited in Tibet. But the Chinese laws allow for ethnic minorities to practice their traditions. So every Wednesday, to demonstrate solidarity, Tibetans all over the world express their culture. They speak Tibetan, eat at Tibetan restaurants, and wear traditional Tibetan clothing. It’s a form of silent protest." 

(Dharamshala, India)

14 September 2014
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I walked into a classroom where some young Tibetan students were practicing their chants, and all the kids suddenly grew very focused and well-behaved on account of the visitor. Except for this guy, who started laughing at me. Then he started laughing at himself laughing. Then he started laughing that he couldn’t stop laughing at himself laughing.

(Dharamshala, India)

14 September 2014
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A bit of context on this next series of photos: Dharamshala, India is where the exiled government of Tibet resides. Led by the Dalai Lama, nearly 100,000 Tibetan refugees live in this northern Indian city, where they seek to maintain their traditions and culture in exile. The long journey from Tibet to India includes a grueling 28 day walk through the Himalayan mountains. Many of the refugees make this trek as children, sent by their parents in hopes of studying their language and religion in freedom. In conclusion, here’s a young Tibetan monk playing with a kitten.

(Dharamshala, India)

13 September 2014
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"My mother-in-law is giving me problems."

(Kotla, India)

13 September 2014
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"My father was very simple, but everyone respected him. The former president of India came to his funeral, even though we weren’t a wealthy or powerful family. Everyone saw my father as a peacemaker. Whenever there was a fight, he’d put himself in the middle and beg for it to stop. Once there were two groups of men fighting, and my father ran over to break up the fight. Someone threw a stone and it accidentally hit my father in the head. He was so respected, that as soon as the stone hit him, everyone went calm."

(New Delhi, India)

13 September 2014
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"I don’t have any dreams. What’s the point? I’m poor. I don’t have any skills. I wash the utensils in the kitchen— that’s what I do. But I like the girls I work with. We make fun together. I tell jokes. They tell jokes. I’m happy— it’s in my nature."

(New Delhi, India)

13 September 2014
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"I used to drink a bottle a day. But then I met my guru." 

(Amritsar, India)

13 September 2014
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"I’ve been overweight all my life. But I broke up with my boyfriend last year, and things weren’t going well, so it got worse and worse. I’d try to diet, but I’d eat something that I wasn’t supposed to. I’d try to go to the gym, but I’d leave early. I was trying to lose weight because I felt like I needed to be a different person. But time has passed now, and I think I’m approaching weight loss with a much more positive attitude. I know that I can be happy without losing weight. Sure, I wish I could wear prettier clothes. I wish I could take a photograph without my face looking like a football. But I know that I’m not my weight. And it’s hard to come to that conclusion. You really have to battle to separate your self-image from your weight. Because weight is always the first thing that somebody sees. Somebody will see you after a few years, and their first comment is about the weight you’ve put on. Maybe I’ve become a better person these last few years. Maybe I’ve been a great friend to someone. Maybe I’ve read a lot of books and become smarter. Maybe the reason I’ve put on weight is that I’ve got a great job that can be stressful and doesn’t leave me time to go to the gym."

(New Delhi, India)

12 September 2014
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"I’ve got to stop being so emotional. If someone is sad, I normally start crying before they do."

(Amritsar, India)

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