Tenzin Dolkar, 28, was born in a Tibetan refugee settlement in south India and moved to the United States when she was 10 years old. As a high school student, Dolkar returned to India to visit Dharamsala where the Central Tibetan Administration is based. She connected with many young Tibetans who shared with her their first-hand accounts of lives in Tibet under Chinese rule, their arduous and often dangerous trek across the Himalayas into exile, and their struggles living as refugees in a foreign land. Upon returning home, Dolkar resolved to contribute to the Tibetan freedom movement as a student, and that search led her to Students for a Free Tibet (SFT).
SFT is a chapter-based network of young people and activists around the world who work in solidarity with the Tibetan people in their struggle for independence. Through education, grassroots organizing, and non-violent direct action, SFT campaigns for Tibetans’ fundamental right to political freedom, and trains youth to become leaders in a wider movement for social justice around the world.
“When a decisive moment for Tibet’s future comes – and we know it will – I want to be ready to help tip the balance in favor of freedom. In the meantime, I want to help build the momentum toward that moment,” Dolkar said.
Every year since joining Mount Holyoke College’s SFT chapter in 2005, she has taken on increased levels of responsibility with the organization. First, she became SFT’s regional coordinator for the New England area. After graduation, she took a professional full-time job as its USA grassroots director, coordinating campaigns and organizing actions across the nation. After more than eight years of experience working with SFT, she was recently selected to become the organization’s interim executive director, replacing Tenzin Dorjee.
Dorjee describes Dolkar as a “visionary young leader who, besides being a central organizer, spokesperson, and strategist for the Tibetan freedom movement, has trained hundreds of youth around the world in nonviolent activism.” As one of its long-time activists, Dolkar is positioned to help the organization grow and implement sophisticated nonviolent actions, as demonstrated recently at the G-20 Summit in Russia.
Dolkar understands the important role students and youth have played in social justice movements throughout history in countries like South Africa and she is committed to making the same happen for Tibet.
Under her leadership, Students for a Free Tibet will continue its work to engage youth worldwide through strategic political campaigns that will keep the movement for an independent Tibet visible, innovative, and energized.
Amnesty International Speech
Tenzin Dolkar while she was the USA Grassroots Director of SFT