The Institute for Multi-Track Diplomacy
Country Project: Tibetan Government and Community in Exile
August 2011 – Bangalore, India
The Institute for Multi-Track Diplomacy (IMTD) has spent nearly 20 years working with the Tibetan Community in Exile, based in Dharamsala, India. Ambassador John McDonald’s training programs with Tibetans started in 1991, before IMTD’s foundation. Continuing a relationship with the Tibetan Government in Exile was one of IMTD’s first initiatives in 1992. Since then, IMTD has conducted annual training workshops with professionals from the Tibetan community on Conflict Resolution, Multi-Track Diplomacy, Mediation, and Forgiveness. We have trained participants from a variety of professional fields coming from Tibetan communities throughout India and the East Coast of the United States.
In August 2011, IMTD continued its rewarding work with the Tibetan refugee community and government in exile, conducting the training in Bangalore, India. This was a landmark event in the Tibet program, as it was the first training session conducted in South India, marking a new initiative to expand the reach of IMTD’s work to large Tibetan communities outside of Dharamasala. IMTD’s Director of Training Dr. Eileen Borris and Program Manager Mr. Kevin LaFleur conducted a week-long training course for twenty Tibetan professionals. These included teachers, official representatives of the Tibetan Government in Exile, Tibetan Buddhist religious leaders and monks, and members or staff of Tibetan civil society organizations.
The training is designed to be hands-on and highly interactive, utilizing activities such as group discussions, case studies, role plays, and simulations. Participants also watch and discuss documentaries on case studies of nonviolent resistance and forgiveness and reconciliation movements as sources of inspiration that can be adapted to the Tibetan Community context. Classes such as Mediation Collaboration, Problem Solving, and Dialogue highlight trust-building skills while in-depth discussion sessions challenge participants to look at how to apply Forgiveness and Reconciliation skills in their community as well as personal and professional lives.
Participant evaluations at the end of the course showed a strong and positive response to the training. Participants were eager to engage in discussions, work together, and to teach others in their communities back home about the information they gained. Dr. Borris and Mr. LaFleur feel that this particular training workshop was especially successful in identifying new needs of the Tibetan communities and in inspiring changed perspectives and continued long-term commitment to multi-track strategies of conflict resolution among participants.
Participants encouraged IMTD to expand the Tibet program and are eager for IMTD to return to South India for more training sessions in the future. After nearly 20 years of success in working with the Tibetan community, we are now exploring what an expanded Tibet program may look like in years to come.
The Institute for Multi-Track Diplomacy (IMTD) conducted training for the Tibetan Youth from the Washington DC and Northern Virginia area in Arlington on November 13, 2010. The training was held with undergraduate and graduate students from George Mason University, Richmond University and American University. Ambassador John McDonald spoke about the concepts of IMTD, how a systems approach for peacebuilding can be implemented in a particular context and how such trainings are the stepping stones towards creating a better understanding and relationship between Tibetans and Chinese youth. The Ambassador also shared his valuable experiences meeting with His Holiness the 14tth Dalai Lama and his training workshops with the Tibetan Government-in-exile and Tibetan NGOs in Dharamsala.. Training Director, Dr. Eileen Borris was the principle trainer and Program Officer, Ms. Tsering Yangzom coordinated the logistics and the development of the training materials.
The Institute for Multi-Track Diplomacy (IMTD) continued its work with the Tibetan community and government in-exile from May 31st until June 5th 2010. IMTD’s Director for Training, Dr. Eileen Borris and then Tibetan Program Officer Ms. Linda Noble, implemented a week-long training course on Conflict Resolution and Multi-Track Diplomacy for twenty one Tibetan professionals.
Initially IMTD had worked exclusively with the Tibetan Government in Exile, however with an increasing interest and demand for conflict resolution skills from within in the Tibetan community, IMTD decided to extend invitation to attend the training to professionals within the Tibetan community. By partnering the training with The Tibetan Centre for Conflict Resolution (TCCR) people from all levels of society are now able to have access to learn conflict resolution skills. TCCR is also able to provide participants with local support system and follow up day courses in Tibetan which helps maintain participant’s motivation and interest while strengthening IMTD’s annual five day training.
The week-long course highlighted building skills in Mediation Collaboration, Problem Solving and Dialogue while also creating space for in depth discussion sessions on how to approach and work with Forgiveness and Reconciliation both personally, professionally and within the community. The training was designed for participants to have hand on experience and be highly interactive with activities such as group discussions, role plays and simulations. Documentaries were also shown not only as examples of the material but also as sources of inspiration and examples which could be adapted to the context of the Tibetan Community.
The participant’s consisted of seven women and fourteen men; their professions ranged from teachers and school guidance counselor to political activist, members of women’s groups, government workers, NGO staff and one person who worked with the rehabilitation of ex-political prisoners. The participants not only came from the Dharamsala area but also traveled to the training form Darjeeling, South India and various districts in the Himachal Pradesh region. Participants had a strong interest in attending the training so they could learn and use conflict resolution skills in their professional lives. In particular, teachers were interested in practicing with and teaching conflict resolution to their students. Participants were also very interested to learn how they could build solid bridges with the Indian community as well as manage and resolve conflict more effectively when it arose.
Evaluations of the course completed by the participants at the end of the training showed they not only enjoyed the training and learned a lot, but had their perceptions and assumption on conflict resolution changed. Participants were eager to discuss, work together and saw great value in helping each other learn. The training was inspiring with many vowing to begin conflict resolution awareness and training in their schools and workplaces.
IMTD’s Director of Training Dr. Eileen Borris along with all the participants felt that the training was very successful. Participants also voice great interest in attending other trainings given by Dr. Borris and IMTD.