In 1999, a month or so after I graduated high school (what's with the flashback posts today?) I went to Woodstock '99 with a few friends. The sanitary atrocities and "Apocalypse Now"-ishness of the whole thing is well documented and maybe someday my own personal "oh shit" moments will make a good post here. But perhaps the festival's most lasting impression on me was formed when I wandered into the Students for a Free Tibet booth with my friend Dave, situated amongst the bong and pipe retailers. A few months later, as a college freshman, I started going to meetings.
We did some film screenings, had some letter-writing parties, held cultural nights, and ate a lot of food from Kabob and Curry. In the end, it never left me with a sense of real accomplishment, so as I got more and more involved in singing and intramurals and radio I just stopped going. It wasn't that I stopped believing in a Free Tibet. I guess I just stopped believing in my own ability to do anything about it.
One guy who left a mark on me, though, was Tenzin Dorjee. We knew him as Tendor, and he was an exiled Tibetan-American, never having been to his own homeland. Speaking with Tendor, you'd find yourself leaning further and further in, so as not to miss a single softly spoken word. For many of us, SFT was one of many activities we would dabble in at Brown. For Tendor, it was, and is, very personal. His passion was contagious.
I got an email today that he was recently detained by the Chinese government after staging a high altitude protest in Tibet's Mt. Everest base camp, but has since been released. China is hosting the 2008 Olympics and planning to march the torch through occupied Tibet to Mt. Everest.
It's awesome (and a bit guilt-inducing) to see that Tendor continues to fight for what he believes in, long after my own energies have shifted elsewhere. That's him speaking in this video.