Name: Mary-Kate Oreovicz
What is your job?
Development Manager at Students for a Free Tibet International Headquarters in NYC
What social causes are most important to you?
Human rights and independence in Tibet.
What charities do you support – and how?
Students for a Free Tibet, International Tibet Independence Movement, Tibetan Youth Congress, Amnesty International, and Human Rights Watch.
I participate in petition signings, protests, boycotts, peace walks, letter writing campaigns, and I donate my time as a volunteer and monetarily whenever possible.
Students for a Free Tibet (SFT) is not only my employer, but is closest to my heart and activism, SFT is a 501 (c)(3) non-profit organization founded in 1994, working in solidarity with the Tibetan people in their struggle for freedom and independence. We are a chapter-based network of young people and activists around the world. Through education, grassroots organizing, and non-violent direct action, we campaign for Tibetans’ fundamental right to political freedom. Our role is to empower and train youth as leaders in the worldwide movement for social justice.
Why do you have a passion for this one in particular, is there a personal tie?
As an undergraduate student at Indiana University I learned about Tibet through a history course, and with my interest peaked, I decided to take Tibetan as my language of focus. My professor was a Tibetan refugee, and his story of hardship and escape from Tibet struck a chord within me. I sought out the Students for a Free Tibet chapter on our campus, and have been involved with the Tibetan freedom movement ever since. Over the past 10+ years I have worked closely with Tibetans to support and help advance their nonviolent struggle for a free and independent Tibet. I traveled to Tibet, Nepal and India in 2004 to see the truth of the situation in Tibet with my own eyes, and to better understand what Tibetans are leaving when they escape from Tibet and what they are going to when they live as refugees in Nepal and India. In Tibet I saw marginalized Tibetans clearly suffering under the policies of the People’s Republic of China, Tibetan culture being destroyed, and the negative impact of mass Han migration into the region.
After that trip I earned my MA in Tibetan Studies at Indiana University and have dedicated my efforts fulltime to working for independence and human rights in Tibet.
Is there a particular way you would want to encourage readers to be involved?
The number one thing that everyone can do is to educate about Tibet, and transform knowledge into action. China’s propaganda machine is huge, and China’s Communist government has spent the past 50 years rewriting Tibet’s history. Learn the truth of Tibet. Get involved with organizations that work each day for Tibet. Look for activities within your community.
An easy way to get involved right now is to support the work of Students for a Free Tibet though our second annual Art for Tibet. Over 100 international artists have donated original works to this incredible online art auction. The auction culminates on Saturday, September 25 at the Union Gallery Annex in NYC. If you are in the NY area, join us for the final live silent auction and closing party. All funds raised go directly to support SFT’s work for human rights and freedom in Tibet.
How would you define social responsibility?
Social responsibility is a full-time, conscious effort and means contributing positively to the greater good.
Do you have any tattoos that relate to your social/charitable beliefs/work?
On my forearm I have the word ‘rangzen’ – the Tibetan word for independence or freedom. Of my many tattoos, this is the most meaningful; I say I wear my heart on my sleeve.
Quick list of tattoos/mention artists if you’d like:
The majority of my art has been done by Colin McClain at Skinquake in Bloomington, IN. I also have a significant amount of work by Roger Miley at the Tattooed Heart, Lafayette, IN. All of my tattoos represent a specific place mentally, spiritually, physically in my lifetime. They are records of my personal development and serve as life markers. I have to thank Giacomo (also at Skinquake of Bloomington, IN) for my rangzen piece. In it’s simplicity, it holds the greatest meaning for my life’s work.