Manual Sky Train: Tibetan Women on the Edge of History

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News and notes from the world of books. In her interviews, Canyon Sam reveals the unique strength women can bring to crisis situations, which was really inspiring. And her own growth as she makes her second journey, accomplishing favors she's been asked to do, overcoming obstacles and being "blessed" because of her own karma, is interesting to read about, too.

One person found this helpful. Canyon Sam's book, Sky Train is a necessary read for everyone to get a better understanding of the world we live in. Her work, which follows her journey as she travels to interview Tibetan women about the Chinese invasion, is heartfelt and surprisingly shocking. It is an important story that everyone should read to learn more about the recent history of Tibet, how the Chinese government functions, and the human's innate struggle for survival in this case for individual lives and to keep a culture alive. One thing I particularly enjoyed about this book was the format - while most histories can be dry, her book included her own story of her travels to reach and interview various women, as well as the relationships she develops with them, which helped me latch on to something more personal than when I read a history book.

As we are coming upon the 55th anniversary of the Dalai Lama's exile, now would be a good time to refresh your memory or perhaps learn for the first time what has transpired for the people of Tibet in the years since. This book is unique in that the author interviewed these Tibetan women over a span of many years. This book looks at their individual stories as well as the overall Tibetan diaspora. Kindle Edition Verified Purchase. It's very well done. I think that it appeals to anyone who is interested in women, Tibet, or how we are going to live together in a violent world.

I am recommending it to everyone I know. Canyon Sam' personal journey held me captivated. The lives of Four Tibetan women, who suffered from the oppression of the Chinese government, yet survived to tell about their experiences exemplifies their determination and love of Tibet. I will purchase more books as gifts. Finally a behind the scene for the women of Tibet who were left behind and had to face and survive the worst.

Couldn't put it down!! Riveting stories within a story, wonderfully written, telling personal and heartfelt experiences of several Tibetan women within the framework of Canyon Sam's own experience. I read it in 1 day.


  • Sky Train: Tibetan Women on the Edge of History by Canyon Sam.
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A must read for anyone interested in Asian Studies, Women's Studies and Human determination and perserverence. See all 24 reviews. Most recent customer reviews. Published 1 year ago.

Sky Train: Tibetan Women on the Edge of History

Published on July 23, Published on July 17, Published on May 16, Published on April 8, Published on February 23, There's a problem loading this menu right now. His Holiness the Dalai Lama and the many other, predominantly male, lamas that teach the Dharma to students the world over. One Tibetan woman notes, however, that Lhasa was a city of women. The men fought, and died. The prisons were predominantly filled with women, and the women, even nowadays, are the ones who continue to uphold important parts of the culture, such as wearing the traditional Tibetan dress, the chuba, on a daily basis.

Canyon Sam is a third-generation Chinese-American who started this book over a decade ago.

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In this "final" publication of it, she focuses on four Tibetan women from the original thirty-six she interviewed: These four women can be arraigned on a spectrum of Tibet's history of the past fifty years: Alongside Canyon's frantic scrambling to re-interview these four women, she revisits Lhasa, and is shocked to see the once quiet city morphed into a city that could pass for any other gaudy Chinese city.

The book's title comes from the train that runs from Beijing to Lhasa, and as one Tibetan woman jokes: Additionally, the train helps promote tourism to Tibet and, far more damaging, facilitates the mass immigration of Chinese people into Tibet. When I found out I had won this book through goodreads, I initially thought, "Ha! They must have looked at my shelves.

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Lo and behold, goodreads uses an algorithm, the main base of which relies on randomness. Out of people, only 2 of us were lucky to win a copy of this book, and I was one of them. And did I mention that I want to go to grad school for Tibetan Studies, and am thinking of doing my thesis on something pertaining to Tibetan women?

If people knew the truth, we believed, they would come forth and intervene. Tibet would be saved. Now Tibet was indeed a household word, but China had imposed its will, transformed it. Beyond our worst nightmares. There were too many threads, and it felt that Canyon Sam, to use a cliche, "bit off much more than she could chew. My review is totally going to mirror her book.

If the book feels rushed, it is because it IS a rushed topic. Two of the four interviewees are dead now. Om mani padme hum. The older generation of Tibetans--the ones who knew life prior to the Chinese invasion, the ones who bravely protested against the Chinese military forces, the ones who initially fled--are dying. My students were mostly between the ages of 18 and Some of them, despite "knowing" three or four languages, are not fluent in any of them. A lot of them primarily fled to India to get an education, because Tibetan is not taught in Chinese schools, even if their parents could afford to send them to Chinese schools.

When my students speak, their Tibetan is riddled with English; their English is riddled with Tibetan.

University of Washington Press - Books - Sky Train

They joke around in Hindi, and some of them write in Chinese, but none of them have yet mastered a language to fluency. And female students were largely absent from my classes. There were five in one class, and only two in the final-year class of the college. And only one of those female students was a nun. I was the only female teacher at the college.

I, a white Western woman, only had a few women for company, other than my students: When I asked some of the male teachers why they thought this was being the Western feminist I am , I was told, rather smartly, "Well, if they applied, we would probably hire them! Don't you think we'd actually LIKE more women?

In addition to the book feeling rushed, there are these important threads that just sort of dangle in the book. They're important, and they might become your favorite part of the book, but it's hard to ground them in anything in relation to the storyline. More planning could have been done, or at least more delineation from "here in the present" to "author's memory of the first time she interviewed this woman. I had to break myself away from the book at several points because I couldn't read through my tears, and all she had mentioned was how one woman snuck her a potato while she was fixing dinner!

I've tried to talk to other Western women involved in the Tibet cause, and I always end up walking away feeling a little Either they're really actively involved in the Buddhism aspect, or the political aspect, or I just feel like I should shut up about all my little experiences that draw me towards the cause-- that sharing our experiences and ideas is not a part of the connection between us, either as women, as Western women, or Western women who care deeply about Tibet.

As a writer, the moments of absolute humanity I've experienced are what I wish to portray about the Tibetan people, because I'm tired of them either being dragged through the mud or put up on a pedestal. I'm tired of the West being gimme-gimme when it comes to Tibet's Dharma teachers, and will never forget what a friend's friend, a nun, told me. She found out that I was teaching English and wanted to learn Tibetan I only know a little , and reached over, grabbed my arm, and said something to me in Tibetan I couldn't understand.

My friend knew very little English and struggled with the translation, but together, he and she were finally able to tell me, "You must learn Tibetan. You must translate books We demand the Buddhist philosophy, the spirituality of these people, and in return, we should give them the science we've been privileged enough to dabble in for many centuries. Canyon Sam is a writer. It's listed first in the back of the book.

I am, first and foremost, a writer, too. Thus, I could connect with her more than someone who does not value the precision of words, the subtle gestures of human beings, the strange adventures that befall us on our journey for truth--and the need to take note of all of these things.


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  7. I love my activist friends, Tibetan and non-Tibetan, but I will always feel separate from them because of my writerly heart. And here was Canyon-la, with her similar experiences, echoing sentiments I have had all along but have been afraid to admit--ashamed of, in some sense. The experiences range from ama-las "mothers" insisting that I eat an omelete for breakfast, in addition to the bread and tea, because of the stereotype that Americans always eat eggs for breakfast, to being asked if I wanted tea and my saying, "Absolutely! I, too, miss McLeod Ganj, "not the nerve-jangling, crowded, noisy town, but the place it represented.

    A void I am trying to stuff with literature about Tibet. I faced this review with a heavier heart than other reviews, and it has been one of the most difficult to write. I feel additional pressure because so many people have added this book to their "to-read" list, unlike some of the other books I have reviewed, such as We Tibetans , an account of Kham, Tibet, pre-Chinese invasion, by a Tibetan woman who married a British man.

    That book might remain stuffed away into a corner, but this new book, thanks to the goodreads giveaway, has the real possibility of being read and changing lives. I don't know what to say. I'm not afraid of coming on too strong, but I don't know what strings to pull to get your attention. To get you to research Tibet, to educate yourself, to read this book.

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    I'm not satisfied with any approach, because I feel that the Tibet issue is so important that we must utilize ALL approaches. The torture victims must have space in order to tell their harrowing tales, show their bullet scars. We must show you pictures of the children, who only recently traversed the Himalayan mountain range in the dead of winter in order to get a good education; we must show you their gangrened fingers and toes.

    The monks and nuns must have their say, as they are the backbone of Tibetan Buddhism and it is they who tend to lead the revolts within Tibet itself. The picture of Tibet would be empty without His Holiness the 14th Dalai Lama, the glue that holds the Tibetan people together as a community, all around the world.

    The interesting thing about the Tibet issue is that you can approach it from any angle. Political--in terms of communism, democracy. Environmental--in terms of the minerals being stripped from the Tibetan plateau, the polluted rivers that run through Tibet. Human rights--the torture and abuse the Tibetan people face if they dare to speak up against the communist government.

    Education--how Tibetans are struggling to retain their language and adapt to a more modern model of education in exile. Religion--the destruction of Tibetan Buddhism by the Chinese, and the flourishing of it with sponsorship from the West. I can go on and on I think, somewhere in my silly head, that if I can just run down this list with you, at some point something will click.