Amid a year of self-immolations and further crackdowns within Tibet, regular celebrations were withheld from the anniversary event. The usual performance of traditional Tibetan singing, dancing and games were cancelled in memory at the loss and sacrifice of Tibetans within the land of snows.
However, a visit by the revered political leader was enough to raise hopes, reassure, and motivate the next generation of Tibetans and future leaders.
Dr Sangay emphasised the message of self-confidence to the audience of hundreds. One student in the audience, Tenzin Tsundue, expressed her admiration at the speech. In an interview for the Tibet Post, she highlighted:
"He really stressed the importance of confidence, and self-reliance. It was a great feeling meeting our Kalon Tripa for the first time. We had a special meeting with him, and a photo-shoot session. It was so great, and when he spoke, we were touched".
Sonam, a member of the teacher training programme organised by the Sarah College, confided:
"It was wonderful. Lobsang Sangay was our chief guest. He has met many dignitaries all over the world, and many Tibetans. He said of some of the Tibetans are relying too much on others; be it international support or the Tibetan government, so he said you should be self-dependent".
"So in the future we definitely have to stand up on our own feet, for ourselves. Once we are capable of doing something for ourselves, then we can rely on other people".
"One thing I felt strongly about [the speech] was being a Tibetan: growing up India. In the exile community, he mentioned, and we always say to each other, that we have a big 'R' on our foreheads [refugee]. That is true. Today he clarified that this is not something that you have to feel. You don't have to feel bad for being a refugee. Refugee is not a status of your entire life; it's just a temporary political issue. But more than that, you have to feel that you are a Tibetan. I think that is very important".
During a day of encouraging speeches to the students of the College, an award presentation to the highest achievers, and after a personal meeting between the Kalon Tripa and the newest students, during which members introduced themselves, undergraduates have a great deal to be inspired by for the year ahead.
The College for Higher Tibetan Studies is a branch college under the Institute of Buddhist Dialectics at Dharamsala, founded by the late Lobsang Gyatso. After completion, His Holiness the Dalai Lama formally inaugurated the institution on the 13th of August 1998. Earlier in the week a candlelight vigil was held on the college campus in observance of the latest and on-going wave of self-immolations in Tibet.