My Return to Tibet: A 17-Year Journey (part 1)


RFA Tibetan service reporter Palden Gyal was 20 when he left Tibet in 1988, seeking "freedom to express my thoughts." He first went to Dharamsala, India and London before making his way to the United States. Seventeen years later, in June of 2006, he was able to return to Tibet for the first time — ; to see his family, his friends, and the land that continues to define him.

In this slideshow, Palden shares his experience through moving photos of his family reunion. His elderly parents, aunts, and uncles, who thought they would never see him again; younger members of the family who had only heard of him; and villagers who remember him from childhood — ; were all reunited for the first time since he left Tibet. Together they took part in Tibetan traditions of celebration and offering, strengthening the connections that time and distance can stretch but never break.

This slideshow is the first in a four- part series showcasing the Tibetan people, their landscape, and their everyday life.

Written and produced for the Web by David Beasley and Palden Gyal. Edited by Catherine Antoine and Sarah Jackson-Han. Photos by Palden Gyal.

Original reporting in Tibetan


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