This annual event is controversial in our community. This is the first year that His Holiness gave his approval so less people complained. However only five women competed and none of the judges were Tibetan. Some say the pageant helps Tibetan women's self esteem.
UNSEEN DHARAMSALA An innovative arts project for Tibetan refugees to describe their lives through photography.
I am a nomad from Kham. As a child I went to school intermittently for three years but could not continue because my family needed help with our animals. When I turned 17 I left home on a pilgrimage to Lhasa. While in Lhasa I found a pin with a photo of the Dalai Lama. At that time I didn't know about the Dalai Lama. When I was born the Chinese army had already collected all the photos of the Dalai Lama and our elders were too afraid to teach us about him. Even though I didn't know who he was I loved this man's smile and always wore the pin. Once the police stopped me and asked me many confusing questions about politics. They asked me if I knew who the man on the pin was. I honestly said no. Another time while I was in a tea shop minding my own business a stranger sat next to me. He told me all about the Chinese invasion, how the Dalai Lama fled Tibet and set up a community in Dharamsala. He told me he could help me go to India if I wanted. We only have one precious life and need to use it properly so I found the courage to escape. I wanted to learn to read and write in Tibetan and Dharamsala is the best place to do that. I have been in India for several years and have learned so much. However living conditions are not good for us refugees. As nomads we had a good way of life so I hope to return to Tibet soon.