By Tsering Choephel
DHARAMSALA, 4 Nov: Sikyong Penpa Tsering, the political head of the Central Tibetan Administration, and Dr Poonam Smith Sreen, Deputy Director of the General Development Office of USAID, launched the program “Strengthening Cultural Resilience of Tibetan Communities” at the Kashag Secretariat in the Central Tibetan Secretariat on Friday.
Also in attendance at the event were Chime Tseyang, Secretary of the Department of Religion and Culture (DoRC), Kunga Gyaltsen, Additional Secretary of DoRC, Geshe Lobsang Monlam, the founder of Monlam Tibetan IT Research Center, and staff from the Wadhwani Institute for Artificial Intelligence.
This three-year program, administered by CTA’s DoRC, is funded by USAID. The initiative’s objectives are the preservation and promotion of Tibetan religion, culture, and languages in exile. It also aims to further elevate Tibet’s distinct cultural identity on the international platform.
Adopting creative ways to adapt to changing times, the creation of a digital library holds particular significance. To that end, the DoRC has collaborated with Wadhwani AI and Monlam ITRC. The DoRC coordinates with monastic institutions and libraries to solicit rare and important manuscripts, texts, and artifacts for digitization. Wadhwani AI and Monlam ITRC handle the digitization process to develop a digital repository of these collected resources.
Addressing the gathering, Sikyong spoke about the significance of the program and how it serves the vision of the Dalai Lama. He said, “Today could be marked as a watershed moment in our history,” pointing out the three events of remarkable value held in a single day. He referred to the inauguration of the women’s empowerment conference in the morning, the launch of “Strengthening Cultural Resilience of Tibetan Communities” at noon, and Monlam’s artificial intelligence event, held later in the evening.
In conjunction, Sikyong paid tribute to the late E. Gene Smith, the founder of the Tibetan Buddhist Resource Center (TBRC), for his immense contribution to the collection and preservation of many old and rare Tibetan Buddhist manuscripts.
Dr Poonam Smith Sreen expressed awe and admiration for the Tibetan exile community’s success in preserving their cultural identity. Moreover, she acknowledged the centrality of the Dalai Lama’s leadership and guidance in achieving such a unique cultural atmosphere, despite being in exile for a decade, which Sreen called “an achievement that you can’t find anywhere else.”