A Program to Promote and Preserve Tibetan Cultural Awareness for Tibetan Refugees

Project location: Switzerland, Geneva
Project start date: October 2008 - Project end date: June 2009
Project number: 2008-10
Beneficiary: The Tibet Bureau

The Tibet Bureau in Geneva is the official representative of His Holiness the Dalai Lama and the Tibetan government in exile (Central Tibetan Administration), for Central and Eastern Europe. It was established in 1964, with the main objective to favor a better understanding of the situation in Tibet and raise public attention on the ongoing non-violent struggle of Tibetan people. The Tibet Bureau provides the Tibetans who live in several Central and Eastern European countries, with administrative support. Like the 11 other foreign representatives of the Tibetan government in exile, the Tibet Bureau serves as a link and a source of information for all aspects that relate to Tibet and also represents the official view of the Tibetan government in exile.

Among its various activities, the Tibet Bureu is committed to promote and preserve the importance of Tibet's rich culture in Switzerland, where 3500-4000 Tibetan refugees are estimated to live. The Nando Peretti Foundation shares the conviction of the Tibet Bureau that it is of paramount importance for the new generations of Tibetans born in Switzerland to learn, practise and maintain their ancient culture. In this light, in 2008 the NPF awarded a grant to support the Tibet bureau's "Programme to promote and preserve Tibetan Cultural Awareness for the Tibetan Refugees in Switzerland"

Final Report

The Nando Peretti Foundation grant helped the Tibet Bureau with two key important projects: 1) "Das Tibetische Folklore Ensemble der Tibeter Gemeinschaft Schweiz & Liechtenstein"; and 2) the visit of Gyuto Monks to Switzerland.

Das Tibetische Folklore Ensemble der Tibeter Gemeinschaft Schweiz & Liechtenstein
The cultural folk dance group of the Tibetan Community in Switzerland and Liechtenstein was created in September 1982, incorporating the pre-existing Swiss group of Tibetan dance. The goal of this new group was that of preserving and propagating the traditional Tibetan rich folk tradition of singing and dancing among the second and third generation Tibetans - mostly those born in Switzerland. The members of the group are the key traditional song and dance performers animating all the most important Tibetan religious and cultural events in Switzerland. The grant gave them the financial support to purchase new costumes and instruments.
During the project implementation period, about 10 new members joined the group. Most of them were younger members. This group has performed about three times in front of His Holiness the Dalai Lama.

(For more details of the group visit: http://www.tibetswiss-folklore.com/ )

Visit of Gyuto Monks to Switzerland
To increase the Swiss-born Tibetans' awareness of their centuries-old Buddhist tradition, in late 2008 the Tibet Bureau invited a group of Tibetan Gyuto Monks to Switzerland. The interaction with Tibetan monks was intended to raise awareness and lead the young generations of Tibetans to travel to India in order to gain a greater understanding of their own culture. During their three weeks stay in the country, they visited over 30 Tibetan homes conducting religious prayers and duties. Also, they created a sand mandala ceremony - a typical Tibetan Buddhist tradition involving the creation and destruction of mandalas made from colored sand - and showed Tibetan children how to make butter sculptures.

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