Sarah Ray
Posted: October 25, 2001

VT - Middlebury College Students for a Free Tibet (SFT)
will hold a Tibetan festival from 12-3 p.m. on Saturday,
Nov. 10, at McCullough Student Center on Old Chapel Road off
South Main Street (Route 30). The event will celebrate
traditional Tibetan culture with folk music, dance, food and
displays while also highlighting the current efforts to
release political prisoner Ngawang Choephel. The festival is
free and open to the public.

Tibetan refugee, Choephel studied ethnomusicology as a
Fulbright scholar and a visiting scholar at Middlebury in
1993 and 1994. He subsequently traveled to Tibet, where he
was making a documentary about the region’s traditional
music and dance when he was arrested in September 1995 by
Chinese authorities, charged with espionage, and sentenced
to 18 years in prison. Both Vermont Sen. James Jeffords and
Rep. Bernard Sanders have worked to bring attention to
Choephel’s case at an international level.

Wangyal, a junior at Middlebury and the student who
organized the event, said, “The national organization
of SFT, which is located in New York, has adopted the
release of Choepel on medical parole as its prime objective
and has urged students at Middlebury College involved in the
organization to help lead the nationwide movement. His
release would also set a favorable precedent for other
political prisoners in Tibet.”

at the festival will include a Tibetan monk’s
reflections on his people’s struggle for freedom, music
and dance performances, and a tent called Little Tibet that
will house an altar and a guide, who will explain the
significance of statues of Buddha and other religious items.
At the festival’s conclusion, there will be a
“lhabsoe”?an offering made to the gods by raising
and throwing flour in the air. Students will be available to
teach Tibetan group dances, which are popular in Tibet on
special occasions. Prayer flags will serve as decorations,
and Tibetan and Indian food will be available.

the event, SFT members will offer festival goers the
opportunity to sign petitions regarding the release of
Choepel, who is reportedly very ill. A video about him
willplay continuously. “We are confident that this festival
will offer more than entertainment? It will educate festival
goers about Ngawang’s condition and about the richness
of Tibetan culture,” said Wangyal.

more information, contact event organizer Tenzin Wangyal at
or call 802-443-4552.