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Multimedia: Photo Essay

Photographer Heather A. Lindquist has been photographing Chicago's Tibetan community and has also spent time in the country. This is her photographic journey:

In the summer of 2004, I spent three months traveling throughout China and Tibet on a pilgrimage with my Tibetan teacher. These photographs are just a few of the images that represent some of my experiences there. 

The primary goal of our trip was to attend the Monkey Year teachings given by His Holiness Chungtsang Rinpoche at Driking Thil located outside of Lhasa in the Shannan Prefecture.  These teachings have not been taught at this particular location since the Chinese invasion of Tibet in 1959; they have been forbidden until recently by the Government. In Lhasa, there are warnings to Westerners about participating in any sort of spiritual practices, which made me feel uncomfortable.

 I traveled by train, bus, car, and horseback through mountain passes up to 18,000 feet above sea level visiting rarely seen monasteries documenting a fading way of life and a culture whose existence is endangered. Gifted donations from Fuji film and Hasselblad assisted me in my documentation.

On my trip to Tibet I learned that the Tibetan people have a vast amount of compassion and generosity. Through Buddhism, they continue to live this way even under the existing parameters given to them by the Chinese government. For instance, they are not allowed to carry a photograph of His Holiness the Dalai Lama, if found doing so it is punishable by law.  In Tibet, I always felt accepted by the Tibetan people even though I come come from a different background.

Some of the Tibetan people have relocated to and have sought asylum in the United States, seeking more opportunity for employment and education and most importantly, freedom.  Some have come to Chicago.

The United States has the reputation of being a place of Freedom and stability, something that India and Tibet cannot provide.  For instance in India, the Tibetan's face employment difficulties even when well educated making it hard for them to support their families.  Many have been forced to leave loved ones behind in India and Tibet not only because of insufficient job opportunities but also to escape threats placed on their lives.

VIEW the photo essay.

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