My Fellowship Journey: Of Gender, Hills and Tibetan Lemon Tarts

It all started with this itch of mine to explore gender in and of itself within the development space and not as an additional enjoyable aspect of my work. The AIF Clinton Fellowship gave me the incredible opportunity to work with communities on gender in a deconstructed way while having the support system of an international organization and access to the most insightful learning sessions at the same time. This rare but effective combination was only topped by being placed at the Women’s Empowerment Desk under the Central Tibetan Administration. Not only did I get to work on my passion area but also get the chance to fully immerse and experience a different culture and context in the process. While it would be difficult to capture all the amazing learnings, challenges, professional and personal growths as well as the sheer joy and fun that I have had during the most phenomenal year of my life, the following poem is an attempt to summarise it with the three most prominent features of my journey: Gender, Hills and Tibetan Lemon Tarts.

Gender equality is not a utopian dream
Rather a fierce ambition
To will into reality
Working towards translating that ambition into reality
For any and every community
Is actually a dream come true

Living this dream
Amidst the breathtaking hills of Dhasa*
Was a realisation
Of my deep passionate love affair
With the mountains
Sanity was preserved
Solitude was preferred
During the second wave
Only because of the hills
And their beckoning

Learning about new cultures is a pleasure
That I hope to experience
Ever so often
Though I doubt if any would be as
Enlightening, fascinating and humbling
As learning about the Tibetan Culture and Community

The good will spread from the omnipresent fluttering Tibetan flags
The love and warmth from
And fun with all my Tibetan comrades
During treks,yoga classes, field work or just lunch breaks
The Lemon Tart from Norbulingka Institute**
That was the entirety of my meal on so many days
Make me feel so fortunate and grateful
To be both
A Tibetan Fellow
And accepted as a fellow Tibetan 

Scenic view of Norbulingka Institute with Steps, building, Tibetan Flags, ponds
Norbulingka Institute, Dharamshala.

Logo of Norbulingka Institute

* Dharamshala in the Tibetan language
**Norbulingka Institute is the Centre for preservation of Tibetan Culture, Art, Music and Cuisine.
P.S.: I was so impatient to eat my tart every time that I never took a picture!

Random Ramblings during Lockdown.


Hidden gems in the hills.


“Mera Dil Kahi Door Pahadon Mein Khoo Gaya, Uss Se Mile Hue Mujhko Toh Arsa Ho Gaya”
Song: Pahadon Main by Salman Elahi.

Trishla is serving as an American India Foundation (AI)F Clinton Fellow with the Central Tibetan Administration (CTA) in Dharamshala, Himachal Pradesh. For her fellowship project, she is developing guidelines and policies, tools, and implementation strategies for gender mainstreaming across programs to strengthen the capacity of the Women's Empowerment Desk within the Central Tibetan Administration. Trishla has always been passionate about gender, justice and affecting change. As a student of History, she learnt the value of interpretation and thought processes which aids her in any social or other change she aims to bring about. Her internships with the CSR department of Tata Steel (for underprivileged children), NGO Kolkata Sanved (empowering victims of abuse through Dance Movement Therapy) and other development organizations encouraged her to pursue Human Rights for her higher education. Her dissertation was an experimental intervention which focused on bridging the gap between the theory and practice of gender equality through making ‘Gender’ a subject taught in schools. She also interned with the British Red Cross in London to understand the nuances of women-led sponsorship in international development. She worked at UNOPS Sri Lanka as the Partnerships Intern for a year wherein she not only gained international exposure but also experience in project conception and management across sectors with gender mainstreaming an important aspect of her learnings. The AIF Clinton Fellowship gives her a unique opportunity to understand gender at a grassroot level as well as to formulate scalable strategies for attaining gender equality. Her ultimate aim is to work in the development sector to make the laws, policies and theories of gender equality and Human Rights accessible and applicable to all by means of education and other practicable change-making solutions. In her free time, Trishla loves to read and sometimes write quirky feminist rants for her blog, travel, dance and enjoy her mother’s cakes whenever possible.

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