On Sunday, August 14, a casual round-table discussion and book signing will be held with Thubten Samdup and Palden Gyatso at Restore Our World, 5 p.m. The two men will then speak live on KOTO Monday, August 15 at noon, and at 6:30 p.m. that evening, will give a formal presentation with music, stories, lessons and audience interaction at the Sheridan Opera House.
Gyatso is a well-known Tibetan monk, now on his second tour around the world. He was imprisoned in Tibet by the Chinese for 33 years, during which time he was severely beaten, tortured and nearly died. Since his release from prison, he has authored two books about his imprisonment which share his views of the status of Tibet. Gyatso will describe his memories of Tibet before the Chinese takeover, the torture and terror of his imprisonment, and how people can help Tibet. He will also be signing his newest book: The Autobiography of a Tibetan Monk. Translating for Gyatso and sharing his own knowledge will be Tibetan, Ridzgin Tingkhye.
Samdup, the head of Tibet Canada, the largest Tibetan organization in North American, will also be on hand. He is one of the nine original members of the Tibetan Institute of Performing Arts, which the Dalai Lama established in 1959, during the Chinese invasion of Tibet, to save the Tibetan culture. Samdup has facilitated meetings with world leaders to restore Tibet to its international position prior to the Chinese invasion. He will sing and play Tibetan instruments and talk about his experiences, Tibetan culture, and philosophy. He will also have an interactive question and answer period with the audience.
Bill Duckworth of Montrose founded the Western Colorado Friends of Tibet in the late 1980s, now a 501(c)3 organization.
"Our effort is to positively help in situations that need help and work towards world recognition of the problem" in Tibet, said Duckworth. "We're anxious that the world treat the problem appropriately. We're not in the business to be condemning anyone. We're in the business of solving problems and making life whole."
The organization's main goal is to raise awareness of the situation in Tibet and to introduce it in such a way that people can find positive ways to become involved. "We want to help people understand why this is important," said Duckworth, "and begin to ask the question 'How can I help?'
"Here we have an outstanding example of someone deprived of their own history and standing in life, and no way to get it back," he added. "To the question of why to care about something on the other side of the earth when there are enough problems here, my answer is there has never been a more clear demonstration of harm to humanity than what is represented by Tibet, with 1/5 of its population gone already."
Duckworth decided to expand his program to Telluride to broaden the local base of awareness.
"We've tried a couple of times to do something in Telluride," he said. "I believe that is where our strongest base is" in the region. "Telluride has a unique connection to Tibet and understanding of Tibet."
Duckworth's ultimate goal is the creation of a Tibetan International Peace Center in the region. "The obvious thing to me is we don't have any understanding of alternatives to war in resolving problems," he said. The center would be "a destination people could come to and learn what alternatives there are and how to find solutions."
The Sunday roundtable discussion at Restore Our World and the Monday presentation at the Sheridan Opera House are free to the public, with donations greatly appreciated. During registration and break periods, the audience can interact with the speakers and visit tables of Tibetan merchandise, learn more about WCFOT and membership opportunities.
Duckworth will host an open house at his home in Montrose on Sunday from 1-3 p.m. where people can meet Gyatso and Samdup. Call him at 240-4197 for directions.