Thubten "Sam" Samdup :: Geeks

[WTN-L] World Tibet Network News — May 31, 2007
Lifetime Achievement Award for Thubten Samdup

Neil Steedman
Founder Chairman, TSG-Ireland

During the 5th International Conference of Tibet Support Groups, held in Brussels on 11th-14th May 2007, two milestones were reached in global co-ordination of the Tibet movement, writes Neil Steedman of Tibet Support Group — Ireland.

Firstly, the conference marked the "coming of age" of the International Tibet Support Network in its ability to produce, through mutual discussion and agreement, targeted global campaigns with strategic objectives and specific actions. Secondly, it was the occasion when the founder and long-time facilitator of the Tibet Support Group - List, Thubten Samdup, handed over the administration of TSG-L, the Tibet movement's invaluable communication tool, to the ITSN.

While most, if not all, conference delegates were already aware of Sam's dedication and commitment to building up TSG-L over many years, it came as a surprise to many to learn that he was also the behind-the-scenes instigator, or "founding father", of the ITSN itself.

During the late 1980s and early 1990s, a number of Tibet Supporters would frequently complain to each other — over TSG-L and at the regional and international conferences — about the lack of international strategic thinking and co-ordination within the Tibet movement. Then Sam challenged us with "Yes, OK, but what are you going to do about it??" and promptly persuaded us to form an ad hoc committee to create and develop a solution. Thus was born — one Interim Committee and then global elections for a Steering Committee later — the International Tibet Support Network.

To mark Sam's seminal contributions to the formation of TSG-L and ITSN, a letter of appreciation from 21 long-time Tibet Supporters from around the world, together with a card signed by 35 current and former Steering Committee and staff of the ITSN, was presented to him during the conference — and he justifiably received a standing ovation.

Sam was genuinely taken by surprise and told me immediately afterwards: "It feels like getting a Lifetime Achievement Award!" But if it had been, it would also have had to take into account Sam's contributions to the establishment and successes of the World Tibet Network News, the Canada Tibet Committee, the Dalai Lama Foundation - Canada and Tibet Innovations (to name but a few).

True to form, however, Sam is not content to rest on his laurels and has already instigated another important and innovative project that responds to the current needs of the Tibet movement — the Drel-wa Initiative Project based in Dharamsala.

Drel-wa is pioneering an outreach model that seeks new ways to communicate directly with citizens of the People's Republic of China, establishing a peaceful dialogue meant to inform and communicate the Tibetans' historical and cultural reality through unbiased and accurate information, supplying data and facts not currently available to the Chinese due to media censorship.

The Tibet movement will surely give as much support to, and receive as much benefit from, Drel-wa as it has to Sam's other innovations.

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