India: Strengthening Tibetan Exile Community


Since 1990, IMTD has conducted 12 trainings with the Tibetan Government, most recently in Bangalore, India in January, 2013.

The mission of the IMTD Tibet program is to improve the livelihoods of vulnerable Tibetans living in exile in India through the strengthening of civil society among all refugees. Strengthening civil society allows Tibetans to help Tibetans and is therefore a sustainable, responsive and long-term solution to development challenges.

Founded by former United States Ambassador John W. McDonald, The Institute for Multi-Track Diplomacy (IMTD) has over 20 years of experience working with Tibetans in exile. Based on prior dialogues, IMTD has identified three key areas in which vulnerable groups of Tibetans living in exile in both North and South India feel there is a great need for improvement.

  1. Cultural Preservation
  2. Youth Leadership
  3. Volunteerism

The goal of this program is to strengthen deliverable services in these domains and assist in creating a more responsive and comprehensive refugee Tibetan civil society. In addition to the above, this project will foster crosscutting relationships among those in Tibetan civil society, The Central Tibetan Administration, The United Nations System and the Indian government. The relationship building will be key to future successful delivery of Tibetan development services and will allow for more streamlined communication between all stakeholders.

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.

Conflict Resolution Training – India from Maria Daniel Balcazar on Vimeo.

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.