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Wangdu lives in a sparsely furnished, one-bedroom apartment in Salt Lake City.

In his bedroom there is a folding card table, a desk lamp and a typewriter he uses to produce bulletins for the Utah Tibetan Foundation, a group he and other immigrants organized four years ago.He has committed a good portion of his life living in exile, working to liberate his homeland of Tibet, which has been under strict Chinese rule since 1950.

"I have to do this. It is my obligation because I am Tibetan. If the Tibetans living in exile cannot do this, then who else can?" he asks.

The Utah Tibetan Association was organized in September 1992 in an effort to keep their culture alive and engage in political activities - activities that are explicitly prohibited in their homeland.

"The ultimate goal is to get complete freedom for the Tibetans and self-determination for the Tibetans inside Tibet," says Sonam Lhamo, the group's treasurer.

Wangdu came to the United States in 1991 as part of a group of 1,000 Tibetans who were allowed to come here through a special order by President George Bush. Lhamo followed a year later. Most of the Tibetans that moved here, including both Wangdu and Lhamo, had been living, working and were educated in India.

Wangdu left behind a wife and a 6-year-old daughter whom he has not seen for three years. He has been working to bring them here, and they are scheduled to join him in two to three months pending final approval of their visas.

The association also helps Tibetan immigrants find quality jobs, a feat that a language barrier and cultural differences can complicate.

"We need to get some help from the community in Salt Lake so the educated Tibetans can get better jobs. At the present time, there are many who are educated, but they can't get the good jobs. Most are unskilled laborers," said Lhamo.

Wangdu, for example, holds bachelor's degrees from an Indian university in world history and education. He taught English and social sciences in India for 15 years before coming to the United States. When he arrived here he worked a number of unskilled jobs from housekeeping at Little America to a glass cutter. Now he works for a loan firm, but he wants to teach again.

"My ultimate satisfaction will be when I will be able to get a teaching job," he says as he gazes out the window. "One day I will be a teacher here."

While Tibetans try to acclimate to the Utah culture, they work to keep their culture alive by participating in festivals, like the Living Traditions festival, where they teach people about the cultural and political life in Tibet.

They also continue to celebrate politically significant events like Uprising Day, the day in 1959 when groups of Tibetans rose up against the Chinese government. Thousands were killed, including Wangdu's moth-er.

They also engage in peaceful demonstrations. They sent six people to a protest at the United Nations last year. In 1994, Wangdu, 15 other Tibetans and one Indian staged a hunger strike to draw attention to their struggle. Each Tibetan in the United States also continues to pay $84 to support the Tibetan government in exile in Dharamsala.

Committing so much time and energy to the cause means Wangdu and others sometimes sacrifice their personal, recreational time, but Wangdu sees it as worthwhile. "Having the Tibetan complexion, having the Tibetan name, I'm not satisfied. I want to be satisfied by doing something that makes me a Tibetan.

"The purpose of my life is to do good for my community and my country," Wangdu said.