Jigme Norbu, left, and Tenzin Jamyang arrive at the Minnesota State Capitol, Monday, completing a 600 mile walk from Indianapolis to bring awareness to the cause for Tibet and to inspire young Tibetans not to give up the effort. (AAP staff photo by Tom LaVenture)
By TOM LAVENTURE
AAP staff writer
ST. PAUL (May 31, 2010) – Some of the Tibetan community of Minnesota gathered at the State Capitol Monday, to greet Jigme Norbu and Tenzin Jamyang, who arrived on schedule at 4:00 p.m. at the Capitol steps, completing a 600 mile walk from Indianapolis to bring awareness to the cause for Tibet and to inspire young Tibetans not to give up the effort.
The two walked an average of 28 to 30 miles a day, sleeping in a rented RV at night, which had Internet service to upload the photos and journals from the people and places they visited each day. People could follow their journey day-to-day – with resources on the topics and background of the issues they speak about regarding Tibet.
“It was not a walk for Tenzin and I,” said Norbu the crowd that greeted his arrival. “It was a walk for Tibet. It was a walk for human rights and peace.”
Norbu said he was pleased to find that most Americans he spoke with were well aware of Tibet and its issue and that they offered words of encouragement and support. He encouraged the Tibetan communities he met with along the way, no matter if they supported full Tibetan independence or the “middle path” of some autonomy within the Chinese system – to stand up and express it by walking or some other way to let people know that people in Tibet cannot do this for themselves.
“That was our goal,” said Norbu, “to get in touch with our roots, our younger generation and our communities to let them know to keep the movement alive and to spread the word to free Tibet.”
“Never give up who you are and what you stand for,” Norbu said to the crowd of mostly young people.
The walk began on May 9, 2010, when the two left the Indiana Monument circle in Indianapolis for Lafayette, then through Gary to Chicago and Madison, over to La Crosse, and up the Mississippi through Hastings to St. Paul. The group walked the last six miles together to the Tibetan American Foundation of Minnesota.
Norbu is the son of the late Takster Rinpoche, the elder brother of His Holiness the Dalai Lama. Rinpoche also walked for the cause of Tibet, and inspired Norbu to continue the effort – stopping in towns and cities along the way, talking to residents and media about Tibet and its crisis.
Norbu has now completed 17 walks and bike rides for Tibet that altogether compile more that 5100 miles in both the United States and overseas. Before the St. Paul walk, Jigme completed a 900 mile walk to New York in 2009.
With photos of foot blisters as big as his fist and various other physical hardships that come with walking all day, every day, Norbu said that the cause and its people fuels his heart and determination to get through the toughest days of the walks.
“I think it has shown to the public, and to the world, that if you put your mind to something you can accomplish it and that we are not giving up,” he added.
Jamyangla first participated in a 2004 walk from Indianapolis to Chicago that totaled 240 miles. He was inspired by Norbu’s passion and wanted to do his part and join this walk.
“I just wanted to give him company this time and make it worthwhile,” said Jamyang
Jigme Ugen, president, Regional Tibetan Youth Congress of Minnesota, said that a direct, non-violent action like the Walk for Tibet embarrasses the Chinese government which is in turn an extremely empowering experience for Tibetans. He said the dedication and determination of Norbu and Jamyang has lifted the spirits of locals and especially youth.
Ugen said the two have educated thousands of Americans about Tibet’s plight, and have inspired Tibetans and Tibet supporters all over the world.
“Personally, it’s overwhelming to see the youth turn-out to this action,” said Ugen. “Tibet’s independence will not be achieved by waiting; it has to be constantly highlighted and continuously fought for.”
The 14th Dalai Lama of Tibet went to exile to India in 1959 and established the Tibetan government in exile with more than 100,000 refugees. In 1989 he was awarded the Noble Peace Prize for his non-violent struggle for Tibet. Currently he travels around the world, preaching the message of peace, nonviolence, inter-religious understanding, universal responsibility and compassion.
The walk is a nonprofit activity as Ambassadors for World Peace (www.ambassadorsforworldpeace.org) with a current focus on Tibetan freedom and peace walks.