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Miss Tibet 2005

Miss Universe, Miss World, and Miss Asia Pacific – and now Miss Tibet. Highly controversial owing to the lack of exposure and entry into the international foray of beauty pageants – the Miss Tibet contest has caused a stir in the exiled Tibet Community owing to the lack of support from the Tibetan Government in Exile despite an enthusiasm in the community to this event. Last year, in Dharamshala, India, the 3rd Miss Tibet contest was held and Miss Tashi Yangchen from Gangtok was crowned. Tashi represented Tibet in Zimbabwe in the Miss International Tourism contest earlier this February and was a favorite for the crown. She was removed from the contest owing to Chinese pressure.

Why do Tibetan girls want to take part in the Miss Tibet contest? Unlike any other beauty pageants, the contestants don’t walk away with a thick check, lucrative modeling contracts or a movie deal. The contest has been identified by these young girls as a part of identifying the distinctive identity of the Tibetans and having a role in creating a public face to that separate role. As a community magazine in New York, Migyul has been keeping track of events in the Himalayan community in the Himalayas. With repeated requests from our readers we were lucky to get an interview with Tashi Yangchen – the current Miss Tibet.

Tashi comes from Gangtok – once again in the Himalayas– a nice quiet town in Sikkim. Tashi speaks in a number of languages, including Tibetan and Nepali. Multifaceted – the term “beauty and brains” seems very applicable here – she holds a degree in computer science and now is pursuing a MBA degree in London. However, that does not describe Tashi: she is a down-to-earth and compassionate person and, through our exchange of emails for the past months, I am confident that Tibetan women are very well epitomized in this year’s Miss Tibet.

Could you tell us more about yourself and your background?

Background (Don’t people know by now....heheheh. Anyways...) Born and brought up in the state known for peace and tranquility, Sikkim. I believe life should always be a learning process. Being a typical Aries girl I have always been ambitious. After completion in software Engineering at Pune University, I was working in Skims [Philip: is this right?] in the Information Technology Department in Gangtok for almost two years. At the moment I am pursuing my MBA in London.

I believe if one wants to do something in life there are two options, one is chance and the other is choice. I always believe in the latter, as I am a person who feels if you feel good about what you are doing, does it if not, then just leave it.

Tashi Yangchen lak, you mention in your interviews that the "decision to take part in the Miss Tibet contest was not by chance, it was by choice, a choice which you made with a firm head." Could you tell us what you mean by that?

I believe if one wants to do something in life there are two options, one is chance and the other is choice. I always believe in the latter, as I am a person who feels if you feel good about what you are doing, does it if not, then just leave it. So being a part in the Miss Tibet was earnestly not to win but I strongly felt that somewhere down the line someone has to make a start so that smart Tibetan girls will come up and be a part of the pageant too. For me Miss Tibet Pageant was not only to create awareness about Tibetan culture but also about the ’Tibet’! 'We should never speculate about things as if we were in the well but broaden or thinking and look things in a broader perspective.’ I quote these words as there are so many people who do not even know what is Tibetan, forget the culture. So I really felt that the pageant has helped a lot in building curiosity among many who are alien to the term Tibetan.

While you say that your parents were supportive of your decision, were there others who weren’t, and did it affect you in anyway?

I do not make any decision in haste and when I make my decision then I stick with it. My parents have always been supportive with whatever decision I chose in life as they believe in me. As long as my parents believe in my decision...the rest doesn't matter. I don't have to ask the world what to do in life.

I did not do all this to gain popularity but I did all this as I know money is important in life but there's something more valuable than money in life. I am glad I could show the kids some happy times...the moment was really very precious to me and will always be close to my heart.

As the current Miss Tibet 2004, what will be your role in this year? What are some of the things that you want to do and what are some things you have done already to that end?

As far as the prize money is concerned I made sure I used it for a noble cause that was the first thing I did. It gave me immense joy to help the needy with the prize money. I made sure I gave clothes, toys, shoes, food, sweets, cakes etc, to almost fifty orphan kids in Gangtok. I took some other orphan kids for a movie along with snacks on children’s day. I even made sure to donate some funds to various Tibetan organizations and functions. I did not do all this to gain popularity but I did all this as I know money is important in life but there's something more valuable than money in life. I am glad I could show the kids some happy times...the moment was really very precious to me and will always be close to my heart. Apart from this, I was invited as the chief guest for various Tibetan functions like culture shows, etc. where I had the honor to share my experience.

Do you have to put your other career as a computer engineer on hold for the time? How has being Miss Tibet changed your other professional goals?

After I was crowned Miss Tibet I had to hold off my job for a while as I had various social causes to attend but then I soon resumed with my daily routine. At the moment I am doing my MBA from London which was my dream from the start.

I seriously feel that the basic foundation for any human being is education, so it should not only be the duty of the youngsters to make sure they are educated well but also the teachers and parents to guide them in every aspect of life. Never make education a means to earn bread but make it a means to make your self a better person.

As a Himalayan icon today, what do you think is needed in our Himalayan communities in India, Nepal and other areas? How do you think the youth and others from these areas here in New York can help to meet this end?

I don't know weather I am an icon or not but thank you for the honor. I seriously feel that the basic foundation for any human being is education, so it should not only be the duty of the youngsters to make sure they are educated well but also the teachers and parents to guide them in every aspect of life. Never make education a means to earn bread but make it a means to make your self a better person. I know everyone of us have such exceptional hidden talents amongst us so we should take time to explore it and hence apply it. We have exceptionally bright, talented and smart youngsters but they should learn to overcome their awkwardness and the fear of failure which will inhibit them from realizing their dreams. I just have a line for all....each one of us are special, feel special and work towards achieving your goals because nothing is impossible in this world. All the youths should make sure they meet a certain level of education which is of prime importance.