Meet Tenzin Kunsal: Team Tibet Activist

Tenzin Kunsal '13 is not afraid of change. In fact, she embraces it. A child of two very different worlds, Kunsal calls both Dharamsala, India and Minneapolis, MN home. It's fair to say that her life has been nothing short of exciting. She's traveled and studied hard and, perhaps most importantly, she has made a difference in the world around her. 

Having spent her life subjected to so much change, it makes sense that Kunsal is open to change in other areas of the world. She is an avid promoter of peace and says she is passionate about equality and human rights. This passion blooms right here at St. Olaf, where Kunsal takes advantage of schoolwork, extra-curriculars and every day opportunities to create a life that is thriving, active and influential.

Kunsal came to St. Olaf after attending the Diwali Celebration during her senior year in high school. She was drawn to the community and, once arriving on campus, she embraced it right away. To this day, she says her favorite part of St. Olaf is the deep, engaging discussions students spontaneously break into. "Compared to any Oles, I'm very different and have had significantly different experiences growing up," she says. "While that can be a setback, it also has helped me widen my perspective on people in general and has also helped me learn to interact with different types of people better."

Ensuring that she would always have something educated and insightful to add to the conversation, Kunsal dove into her studies, persuing Antrhopology/Sociology and Political Science. "I feel the knowledge that one can gain from these two majors can be very effective in helping create social change," she says. Kunsal is also studying Mandarin Chinese, because, as she puts it, "I feel that attaining skills in this language can be very beneficial for my future activities, which deal with human rights issues relating to Tibet and China."

Kunsal's passion for this area of the world stems from a very personal level of motivation. She grew up in a Buddisht family, within a strong Buddisht community. Many members of her family are in exile due to the annexation of Tibet by the People's Republic of China. "I've chosen this path," she muses, "because I've always been instilled with a sense of responsibility to help people and solve the human rights issues of Tibet."

This passion flows from her schoolwork straight into her extracurricular activities on campus. Kunsal's big focus is Team Tibet, a group in which she currently acts as a co-chair. The group's goal is to spread awareness of Tibetean-related issues throughout the St. Olaf campus. 

In the past, the group has hosted speakers from the organization Students for a Free Tibet, and hosts meetings to discuss current political events, Tibetean culture, and the definition of human rights. "I got involved because I love being involved," says Kusal. "Considering my history and my passions, participating in this organization was a give in."

Kusal is also a member of the Women's Empowerment House. Lately she has become more interested in issues relating to gender and women. The house hosts many events every month, including trivia games and discussion on Supreme Court cases, and an open debate called SlutWalk, in which Oles were invited to share their opinions on whether or not dress and behavior give a victim liability in the case of rape.

The connection between Kunsal's organizational involvement is obvious. This girl wants to fix a problem or two.
And it appears like she's not stopping anytime soon. "Ive learned that in the 'real world' I do want to live a life where I'm constantly interacting with people," says Kunsal. " I want to be using my creativity, working with others, and just making things happen." And while the path of life is still a little bit hazy, Kunsal knows that it will be filled with the joy that comes with gaining experience, and experiencing change. "Enrich your life by conquering your fears," she advises. "Step outside of  your comfort zone."