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23 june 2012 001Dharamshala: I had decided that I would intern with the Tibet Post International (TPI) after some volunteers from Students For A Free Tibet came to my college to raise awareness about the Tibetan cause last year. A few contacts who highly praised the newspaper also informed my decision to intern in McLeodganj.

The TPI office had a multicultural, global feel to it. There were two volunteers - Mark Kernan from Ireland and Anand Katakam from Banglore - along with the permanent staff: Matthew Singh Toor (British Punjabi), Sangay, Pema and Yeshe (all Tibetan). Every now and then, volunteers of all nationalities would drop in.

The first day at the Office will remain one of my fondest memories of the summer. I had learned more about the Tibetan situation in a day than during three months of internet research. It was also very cute to see Sangay and Pema struggle over the pronunciation of my name, and it was only when the Irish volunteer, Mark Kernan, called me 'Ahimsa' that I decided to start correcting people.

I will always think that Mcleodganj is more Tibetan than Indian. The town has an essence - a sort of undiminished light. I don't know if this has emerged from Buddhist influences or from the state of freedom of the Tibetan people there who've moved so far from their homes, but there is a definite sense of a belonging that envelopes you.

In the TPI office, it was amazing to consider how so many of us came from different backgrounds and different worlds but still managed to understand each other, crack jokes and have fun. We socialised over a staff dinner, as well as TPI's first ever summer picnic. I finally came to terms with Tibetan food and it was delicious.

I had the opportunity to attend one His Holiness the Dalai Lama's speeches. Even though I was waiting outside and I didn't have a radio to listen to the translation, the last part of His Holiness' speech was in English and it was one I shall never forget. I also managed to catch fleeting glimpses of him on a few other occasions and I was beyond happy - after all, this was more than many people manage in a lifetime.

My work included copy editing articles and I also interviewed and helped cover events. I attended a few film screenings, discussions and marches. Mcleodganj is always hustling and bustling with some activity or another. From participating in candlelight marches to watching the Lion Man Dorjee's performance, Mcleodganj is lively and has a deep-rooted sense of community.

My favourite part of working at TPI was the translations. Usually, either Pema or Sangay would receive news in Tibetan or Chinese and then translate it into basic English. Spellings, which are hard enough for native English speakers, were especially hard when it came to Tibetan proper nouns. But I think, the fact that we could come up with decent articles, even after particularly difficult translations, proved that language barriers are not as large as we think they are.

I was also personally affected by some of the work, such as covering the self-immolations. It helped to know that we were contributing to the Tibetan cause in some way. And I met a variety of people from across the world during my stay at Mcleodganj - artists, travellers, monks, ordinary people with daily jobs and so many more, who I somehow felt destined to meet.

At the end of this internship, I really hate the idea of leaving the place that has become my home for the summer. I have learnt so much in a short while about journalism, culture, politics and life skills. I can never really find the right words to express how much this internship and the past six weeks have meant to me but I know that when I go back to my 'other life', I will no longer look at it in the same way.

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E-mail: editor@thetibetpost.com