Tibetan Community in Philadelphia and need of a Community Hall.
Tibetans began arriving in the U.S. in the early sixties, but the community entered a new phase of development in 1992 when the U.S. Congress granted one thousand visas for Tibetan exiles in India as part of the Immigration Act of 1990. These thousand Tibetans were in turn able to bring their family members along with them. Philadelphia was one of several destinations for these Tibetan immigrants.
The Tibetan Association of Philadelphia is diverse in terms of age, gender, and people’s occupations. Many are self-employed and own small businesses and their own homes. Several are working in the service and construction industries. Children and youths, particularly those born in Philadelphia, make up a large part of the community. Many of the younger members are beginning to branch out into professional fields like nursing. The community comes together around cultural and religious occasions, and activities geared towards highlighting the ongoing human rights and cultural repression in Tibet.
The Philadelphia Tibetan Community is 150 strong and growing. Community organizers are often not able to find affordable venues for events that can accommodate the growing community. Important events, such as Losar (Tibetan New Year) and July 6 (H.H. the Dalai Lama’s birthday) are sometimes held on different dates because of unavailability of space. Retired elders feel restricted to their homes. The community lacks a physical space where members can meet others, learn, teach, cook, worship, volunteer, and interact as a community. This was fine when the community consisted of only a handful of families, and everything was done informally at people’s homes. However, now that the community has grown significantly, a community center with programs and services is imperative for the long-term wellness of Philadelphia Tibetans.
We conducted a survey and found that 95% of community members, felt having a community center was of utmost importance. The community’s support and buy-in of the project has been evident. We are requesting donations and grants towards the Philadelphia Tibetan Community Building Project. The project estimate cost is $750,000.