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Tibet Mandala
mandala To share and promote interest in Tibetan culture, people and land

Staff of Mandala
Ping-Ying Chang staff writer
Yu-Chien Chou treasurer
Ivy Hsu staff writer
Ralph Neff English editor
Sun-Inn Shih staff writer / graphic designer


About Us

To introduce the staff of Mandala, we ask each of them a few questions. Here is what they said:


Ping-Ying Chang

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Q: When and what did you first learn about Tibet? What was your first impression?

Like most Chinese, I knew the terms such as "Tibet", "lama", "Dalai Lama", and "reincarnation" before I graduated from high school. However, I would say their real meanings remain as remote as the geographical distance from Taiwan (or California) to Tibet.

Q: What makes you interested in working on this web site? What do you hope to achieve through this web site?

There are two purposes for my working on this web site.

1) building a collection of tools for myself, and providing it to others. As an engineer who faces the computer monitor most of her waking time, organizing my study results in the form of a web site seems to be natural. I feel shtml is powerful yet easy enough that it serves as a good modern notebook; and I will be very happy if this public notebook helps others in studying Tibet.

2) attracting friends with similar interests to work on introducing Tibetan culture to Chinese.

From my own experience, what the Chinese (Taiwan) education taught me about Tibet is quite different from what I learned from the books written by Tibetans, no matter whether they are by lay people or lamas. I hope this web site can be a starting point for more Chinese people to understand the differences, or at least know their existence, before we lauch another debate or comment on Tibetan issues totally on our Chinese viewpoint and interpretation.

Q: What are the subject areas about Tibet that you are most interested in? Why?

My interest in Tibet starts with my interest in Buddhism, and then goes to how Buddhism affects the different areas of culture. How Tibetans have been implementing Buddhism in their lives is a great inspiration to my personal growth.

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Yu-Chien Chou

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under construction.

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Ivy Hsu

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Q: When and what did you first learn about Tibet? What was your first impression?

The first time I ever heard of Tibet was when I was a school girl in Taiwan back in the third, or maybe the fourth grade. My geography teacher, in covering the chapter about this far-away land, held up a poorly reproduced pencil sketch of the Potala Palace in front of the class. Although I had certainly never seen the palace, a sense of familarity struck me like lightning and left me dumbfounded for a long time. Ever since then, I seemed to be drawn to that still-distant land time and again.

Q: What makes you interested in working on this web site?

This idea came up when a couple of us were brainstorming about doing an altruistic project. The goal is to put our computer skills to use on a focused and sustained effort. The project should be on a subject we deeply care about, and it should be a long-term effort that accumulates over time. Just about that time some of us went to a Tibetan cultural event, and it became clear to us that what you are seeing was exactly what we wanted to do.

Q: What do you hope to achieve through this web site?

This project has helped me systematically study the subjects that I have always been interested in, since the goal is to share what I learn with friends on the net. The process has also prompted me to think and rethink much about my personal view on many issues. I hope our humble efforts will attract many more friends to join us on this journey of inner growth.

The Tibetan culture has much to offer to the world. I find it very painful to know that this culture is withering on its own land, in the hand of my people. I want to help with as many positive actions as I can offer. I hope this web site will reach out to many Chinese friends on the net, because I agree with the Dalai Lama that the Tibetan issue must be resolved by a peaceful means, and I strongly believe that this cannot be achieved without the efforts of the Chinese of our generation.

Q: What are the subject areas about Tibet that you are most interested in? Why?

I hope this web site will be a catalyst for compassion and open minds. With compassion and open minds we can learn to understand and respect the differences in our views. Given that, I'm currently most interested in subjects that challenge our common notions, such as the lives of unconventional people and different perspectives of the same events. I'm also interested in the current lives of Tibetans at home and in exile.

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Ralph Neff

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Q1: When and what did you first learn about Tibet? What was your first impression?

I've lived in Berkeley for several years, where bumper stickers and signs which shout "Free Tibet!" are a common sight. However, I really had no idea what this meant until Ivy introduced me to the topic. We attended an awareness and fund-raising evening organized by the International Committee of Lawyers for Tibet. The evening featured some traditional Tibetan music and dance, a slide show from the book Tibetan Portrait, and a movie about Ngawng Choephel, a music student studying in Tibet who was arrested apparently for having a video camera. I was impressed by the peaceful nature and wisdom of Tibetan Buddhism, and by the strength with which many Tibetans handle the hardships in their lives.

Q2: What makes you interested in working on this web site?

I was initially shocked about how little I knew about the Tibetan issue. I am learning a lot about Tibet by working on the site, and can help distribute this information to others.

Q3: What do you hope to achieve through this web site?

I hope to promote better understanding of the Tibetan situation and knowledge of their traditional way of life.

Q4: What are the subject areas about Tibet that you are most interested in? Why?

I am most interested in learning about the Tibetan people and their traditional ways. I would also like to learn more about Tibetan Buddhism, since it seems to be a very different and clear way to look at the world, and it contains the accumulated wisdom of centuries of thought and debate. I am glad to see so many people working to preserve and teach about Tibetan culture and beliefs.

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Sun-Inn Shih

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Q: When and what did you first learn about Tibet? What was your first impression?

My first strong impression of Tibet is when Ivy told me the story of how she went into a market and a strong impluse drove her to walk to the end of the alley for no apparent reason. When she discovered a Tibetan store at the end of the alley, she knew that it was the source of the invisible pull. Ivy's simple deja vu story stuck with me, for no apparent reason. After that, numerous books came my way and the moutains and the people became vivid. A still picture from one of the books had a Tibetan warrior in white shirt and scarlet vest with his body relaxed and tilted on the back of a full gallopping horse. Everytime I thought of it, it turned into life with sound and scent.

Q: What makes you interested in working on this web site? What do you hope to achieve through this web site?

I believe in true stories. There are always different viewpoints and a true story may only be described when these differing viewpoints are allowed to be heard. The web is currently the best place for stories to go in all directions. Here I can share my view with my camera and my lenses. And here I hope to have people come and join us and share their views. Perhaps all of us can come closer to the true stories. On a personal side, it is a mental pilgrimage for me in different aspects. One is to put my computer background to use in something I believe worthwhile for all. Another is actively expand my personal view of what is happening outside of my computer and my 10x8 square feet of office. And finally to learn the process of web design.

Q: What are the subject areas about Tibet that you are most interested in? Why?

I like to know people. How they live, what they care about, and what occupies their mind. When I find the common things I share with certain people, I understand them deeper as if they are my next door neighbors. Another picture in my mind right now is this young teenage girl who just woke up in the morning with her elbows on her pillow. She smiled brightly with her pinkish cheek. I know that smile. When I find something different, it pleasantly surprises me with new ways to experience life. That governs my interest - How they live. The peasants, the nomads, the scholars, the monks, the nobles, the pilgrims, the warriors, the bandits, and the gods (or how they are believed to live).

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