08 January 2011

Email Interview

I asked Chime Tenzing, a Tibetan political blogger, if he would respond to the same questions my group prepared for Norbu's interview.  Here are his responses:

Tell us about yourself.  What is your name and what do you do for work?
My name is Chime Tenzing.  I am a Tibetan refugee, born in 1981 and raised in Orissa in the Tibetan refugee settlement.
Tell us about the Tibetan culture.  What is it?  What does it mean to be Tibetan?
Tibetan culture - like any other culture, is its unique language, script, way of life, religion and more importantly its century old custom of love, compassion and warm-heartedness!
How long have Tibetans been in India?
Tibetans have fled home to exile in 1959 after the Chinese occupation of its homeland.
How have computers and the Internet changed your culture?  Do they create problems?

Personally, computers and internet have made everything a lot easier.  It just brought everything closer to home (with a click of mouse)!  It is how you make use of the technology.  To your advantage or otherwise!

How do students learn in your community?  How do they learn with computers?
Learning mostly takes place in a formal setting like schools and today most of the Tibetan schools have computer programs in their syllabus but the real exposure to the computer happens only post-school when they go for higher education in colleges.
 How has the computer changed the way students learn?
We are still yet to benefit wholesomely from the technology in classrooms.  But 'some schools' are lucky to have integrated the technology-in-education like teaching through internet and making use of computers for PowerPoint presentations and so on.  But our schools have long way go to catch up!
 Are books or computers better for teaching students?
We can not do away with either of them.  So, I guess both are indispensable part and parcel of the teaching and learning process.
 What do you think about your native land, Tibet?
Tibet to me ( like most of my peers born in exile) is a dreamland.  We have never been there and whatever we know about it is only through videos, news or books.
 How do you use your computer?
I mainly use computer for writing and internet.  It frees me from the paper work and connects me faster to the readers, friends and relatives.
 How do you use your computer to talk with other Tibetans?
Mostly through email, yahoo messenger, facebook and sometimes skype.  If you mean 'talking' then no. For talking we use phones only.  I guess few Tibetans use skype call or other internet-enable calls.
 Do you use your computer every day? Do students use computers every day?
Yes, at work I use computer everyday but I do not own a system yet.  So during holidays I visit cyber cafes to check email or read news online.  Students get the chance to learn computers depending on their syllabus, so not necessarily everyday.
 Do teachers use computers or electronic tools in their classrooms?
It depends from school to school.  The schools with better facilities have the provision whereas the rest doesn't have.
 How many Tibetans have computers?  How many of those computers are connected to the internet?
It is difficult to say.  By the rule of thumb, I would say out of 100 percent Tibetans living in exile maybe around 30-40 percent own computers or laptops and out of that only 10 percent maybe connected to internet.  (Please note that this is just my presumption)!
 How do you think your experience in India would be different without computers?
Mmmmm not so great but I would surely be less connected to the world, less updated, less informed and eventually less productive.  Same case with everyone, even you!
 Why are computers important to you?  What have they changed about your life?
Computer has brought a paradigm-shift to the way we work and connect with each other, at work or personal lives.  The world has become a lot faster and everything now seems just a click away!
 How can computers help Tibetans with their goals?
Oh yea, Tibetan issue is a complex and it has been on loggerhead since 1959.  There are so many people around the world that do not know about the real situation.  So, it is very important tool to communicate and disseminate about our situations and possibly appeal for help.  So yes it is very useful tool for us.
 If you could tell the world one thing about the Tibetan people, what would you say?
Please help Tibet, time is running out!


  1. Is this transcribed from a verbal interview? Or was it done over chat? Or as a kind of email survey?

    I'm curious what has changed (if anything) now that you've had a couple of perspectives on this.

  2. I emailed the questions to Chime and pasted his response onto my blog.

    Now that I've had two responses to these questions I've realized that Tibetans with high digital literacy are those who have the opportunity for higher education and that students I interview will likely not have the same understanding about digital literacy as Norbu and Chime do. I may need to study the ways that digital literacy is manifest without technology present in the students and shift to interviewing teachers and administrators rather than students themselves.