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Activity Report 2011–2012


More than many of the years that came before, 2011 and 2012 were characterized by soul-searching. Like so many people and organizations riding this wave of history, we continued to feel the ripples of the economic crisis. This forced us to wrestle with what our priorities were, where our resources could go the furthest and make the biggest impact. At the same time, incidents on the Tibetan Plateau made it more difficult to work closely with communities. We had to make some tough choices, but we emerged with a clarity of vision that I’m confident will carry us into our third decade of work with Tibetan communities.

Culture continues to be one of our largest areas of support, and there are few cultural issues more critical than language preservation. In 2011 that came in the form of support for The Third International Conference on Tibetan Language—the first in two decades—which brought together sixty-four of the world’s foremost scholars and writers of Tibetan language to grapple with topics from literary heritage and composition to dictionaries and grammar. The insights we gained there were as diverse, prolific, and rich as the participants, and as we prepare to publish the first volume of the conference proceedings, we know this effort will have meaningful impacts for years to come.

As part of our enduring commitment to education as a long-term strategy for catalyzing economic and social development, we approved 870 scholarships to outstanding individuals. In 2011 and 2012, we received some generous outside support for our scholarship program. To everyone who contributed: Thank you. Your support has meant so much to everyone at Trace.

From supporting work in traditional Tibetan medicine to providing funding for the development of educational songs for children, we continued to make grants that are meaningful in peoples’ lives. We supported five publications, ranging in topic from anatomy in Tibetan traditional medicine, to Tibetan poetry, law and physics books, and a book on Tibetan highland animals—and distributed 10,000 copies of these publications to schools free of charge.

To further the Foundation’s mission through outreach and events aimed to promote Tibetan culture, we hosted fifteen events in 2011 and 2012 in New York, attracting hundreds of participants. We were delighted to support and host internationally renowned Tibetan filmmaker Pema Tseden for a series of talks and screenings that, together, painted a nuanced and sensitive portrayal of contemporary life in Tibet. Other events explored everything from the state of the contemporary Tibetan art movement to the profound effects of grassland degradation on the Plateau.

The work of our librarians is never over—in 2011 and 2012, they tirelessly processed and cataloged more that 1,700 new acquisitions (including books, audio-visual materials, and periodicals), bringing Latse Library’s total holdings to well over 18,000 items. They worked toward digitizing our rare collection of audio recordings and fragile periodicals and newspapers, and in 2011 acquired hundreds of images for a photo archive that will be available on our website in the coming year. In 2013, stay tuned for the launch of our Oral History Archive, a project eight years in the making, which seeks to document the legacy of Tibetan culture for future generations. And I’d be remiss if I didn’t mention our Children’s Program, which, in its sixth year, continues to do the vital work of connecting local children to their roots.

In 2012, we launched a newly redesigned and reimagined website—still readable in English, Tibetan, and Chinese, but now with a new look and an expanding list of digital resources. In addition to the new look of our website, we sent out our first e-newsletter and introduced a new logo, created to affirm and strengthen our vision as we move into our third decade. With Tibetan calligraphy intertwined with English, the new logo demonstrates the cultural synergy that’s so central to our work on the Plateau, while putting language itself front and center in a beautiful impactful design.

Our work at times feels like a drop in the ocean when it comes to aid on the Plateau. While this is true, it is also true that a steady, focused flow of water will have a much greater impact than a rain shower. As we carve out a new vision for a new era, I’m delighted to share with you the stories, work, and impacts contained in this report. I hope you will find that we have remained true to our core priorities of celebrating and contributing to Tibetan culture and in bringing long-term meaningful change to people's lives.

Andrea E. Soros

New York City