Share / Discuss

‘Traveling’ Encouraged

To Andrew Greenblatt ’13,  basketball is more than a sport he played at Swarthmore—it’s a social medium, especially at an elevation of 10,500 feet on the Tibetan Plateau.

“It’s so intimate,” the longtime basketball lover says. “There are only 10 people on the court, and they don’t wear a lot of gear—you can see their facial expressions and body language.”

Greenblatt helps run the Tibetan Hoop Exchange in partnership with Norlha Basketball. This tournament for Chinese and Tibetan teams brings in foreign spectators to add to—and gain from—the sporting experience.

Basketball has long been a favorite sport of Tibetans, yet coaches and formal training are hard to come by on “the Roof of the World.” Seeing an opportunity for cultures to connect, the program’s founder partnered with a Tibetan tourism company to create a unique immersion program.

Norden Travel promotes the tournament as an opportunity for outsiders to consciously experience local culture while supporting Tibetan-owned-and-operated businesses. Through the exchange, Tibetans and visitors help each other advance—whether that’s by fostering athletic skills, financial support, or newfound awareness.

“People get to look a culture in the face, experience what it’s like to live a certain way, and ask themselves questions about how they identify and how they’re moving through the world,” says Greenblatt, “all in the process of doing something like basketball and sharing skills that are in demand in this part of the world.”

Greenblatt invites anyone interested in supporting local culture and the love of basketball to attend the next tournament in May.

“I become a better person by spending time with the Tibetan people and learning about their culture,” he says. “I’m lucky they’re willing to share that with me.”