A Generation in Peril: The Lives of Tibetan Children Under Chinese Rule
V. Journeys Into Exile

E. Psychological Effects of Exile

Exile for children, particularly the very young, causes extreme trauma and emotional anguish. While many interviewees told us they liked some aspects of India - and most expressed great satisfaction with the TCV schools and its Tibetan teachers - they also suffered, almost invariably, from the psychological impact of separation from their parents and homeland. Many voiced feelings of depression, sadness, loneliness and extreme hopelessness. 'When I see other children, I think I suffer a lot,' said one Tibetan boy, nine years old, 'I want to play like the rest of the children.' 'When I first came [to India],' said another, 'I saw children singing. [But] I didn't feel good because I recalled prisoners at home.'

In some cases, the fear and trauma of their experiences cause ongoing anxiety, recurring fears, insomnia and nightmares. One child related that, when he watches films in which people are beaten, he remembers 'the Chinese.' 'During the night, I have a lot of anxieties,' said a boy who left Tibet at the age of seventeen. 'Every day, I dream of coming to India but getting stopped at the border.' Yet these fears and anxieties coexist, for many, with a strong sense of determination. 'When I sit alone,' said one girl, 'I remember when the policeman slapped me, and I get this determination that I will study really hard so Tibetan children will not be treated that way.' She told us she intends to 'return to Tibet and teach all the poor children like me.' 'I hope for a better life,' said another boy, who aspires to serve in the Tibetan government. 'I would like to go abroad [and] do business and send money to my brother and father.'

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