October 16, 2009
In Tibet, they would have been arrested for talking about the Dalai Lama, let alone hold a dinner and dance in his honor.
Below is an article published by Norwich Bulletin:
Thursday night [15 October 2009], about 200 Tibetans, most from Montville and Norwich, but some from as far as Boston and New York, held a dinner and dance at the American Legion Hall on Laurel Hill Avenue.
The event was in honor of the Dalai Lama’s recent receipt of the Medal of Freedom from the United States and of Tibetan culture, which organizers say has found a home in Eastern Connecticut.
“We want to let the world know we have our own culture,” said Sammy Kunga, 40, one of the event organizers who lives in Norwich and works at Mohegan Sun. “Culture is our identity.”
Officials at Mohegan Sun and Montville Public Schools say Tibetans are among the fastest growing, if not the fastest growing, minority groups at their respective places. Jobs at the casino have triggered the population growth.
Kalsang Namgyal, 21, of Uncasville, followed a typical path among Tibetans in Eastern Connecticut. At age 6, his parents fled with him to India because of persecution in China. He attended school in India until 2008, when he moved to the region to live with his mother, who was already working here. He now works at Foxwoods Resort Casino.
Phuntsok Jampa, who also lives in Norwich and works at Mohegan Sun, helped organize the celebration. At the front of the dining hall, a portrait of the Dalai Lama rested on a throne that Jampa said local Tibetans built.
The festivities included Tibetan food, dance and music, with many of the attendees dressed in traditional Tibetan garb.
Kung said the celebration made him appreciate even more the First Amendment. In China, he said Tibetans are dominated by fear imposed by the Chinese government. Here, he said, he enjoys freedom.