Washington, DC: The Office of Tibet – Washington, DC and Tibet Corps organized the Young Tibetan Leaders Summit 2016 (YTLS2016) from August 18-21, 2016 at the Garrison Institute in New York. 150 young Tibetans from the United States, Canada, Europe and India, and in the ages 20-35 years old attended the three-day gathering. This is the first such gathering of its kind and complements two earlier and highly successful conferences organized by the Office of Tibet at the same venue: Conference of University Students in North America in 2007; and Conference of Tibetan Professionals in North America in 2009.
The primary purpose of the Summit was to provide a platform for young Tibetan leaders to come together to learn, be inspired, develop solutions to barriers inhibiting the advancement of the Tibetan people, community, and the movement; and connect the inspiration to creating a community committed to bringing about real change in the world.
The Summit program consisted of 17 different sessions and 42 speakers. The sessions covered a range of different topics related to Tibet: keynote address; state of the Tibetan freedom movement, Tibetan democracy, and envisioning a path forward; a conversation with successful young changemakers; elders and millennials: bridging the gap and sharing the torch; a talk on His Holiness the Dalai Lama’s vision and what makes a good leaders; a special presentation on CTA and Tibet Corps; Tibetan Buddhism: a valuable cultural capital to build Tibetan identity and community; homeland, exile and diaspora: towards a common future; the role of writers and artists in contemporary Tibetan society; diaspora as national asset. how Tibetans in the West can become a catalyst for change and growth for Tibetans and Tibet; understanding gender equality in Tibetan community; Tibetans of mixed parentage: connections and community; a talk on moving from inspiration to real change; a session on leadership; and career development and reflection circles.
Sikyong Dr. Lobsang Sangay opened the Summit and delivered the keynote address. Prominent speakers and presenters included Chitues Youdon Aukatsang and Pema Chagzoetsang, Representative Kaydor Aukatsang, Kunga Tashi, Bhuchung Tsering and Tencho Gyatso from ICT, Tenzin Dorjee and Lhadon Tethong from Tibet Action Institute, Tenzin Palkyi from NED, Dr. Kunchok Dorjee, Tsering Wangmo Dhompa, Tenzin Rigdol, Khenpo Nicky Vreeland, Geshe Dadul Namgyal, Dan Goleman, Tsewang Namgyal, Tenzin Khangsar and Wangchuk Tsering.
The Sikyong’s keynote was on the priorities of the 15th Kashag and the role of youth in ensuring a better future for Tibet and Tibetans. The Sikyong explained his administration’s five-fifty strategy. “Five-Fifty is a strategy for success because we can either achieve genuine autonomy in the next five years or China will gradually change for the better in the next fifty years,” Sikyong said. He urged the young Tibetans at the Summit to serve the CTA and the Tibetan community through Tibet Corps.
The 150 young Tibetans represented a wide diversity of professional backgrounds including college students and those pursuing masters and doctorate level students in physics and neuroscience. There were professionals working in banking, engineering, aerospace, nonprofit, technology, social media and technology startups, state and federal level governments, medicine, business, media, academia, arts, etc. Majority of the participants felt a gathering such as the Summit needed to happen annually and most had positive feedback on the quality of the program, the speakers and the planning. “I am deeply impressed by the caliber of the participants at YTLS2016. The talent and commitment of our young Tibetans bodes very well for the present and future of the Tibetan community and movement. I hope the young Tibetan leaders will take the learning, community and inspiration gained from the Summit and apply it towards the benefit of the Tibetan people” said Representative Kaydor Aukatsang.
The Office of Tibet-DC and Tibet Corps is deeply grateful to the Summit sponsors and partners in the National Endowment for Democracy, Isdell Foundation, The Garrison Institute, ICT-Europe, Tibetan Youth Association of Europe and others for their support and participation. More information on the Summit is available at www.ytls2016.org.
Originally published on August 22, 2016 by Tibet.net (link)