A.S.I.A. was created following a series of expeditions to India and Nepal (in 1978) and Tibet (in 1981 and 1988) by Prof. Chögyal Namkhai Norbu and a group of his students. All were struck by the difficult economic and social conditions in which Tibetans lived and by the sharp decline of the traditional language and culture following the Chinese cultural revolution. In 1988, Prof. Chögyal Namkhai Norbu and students founded A.S.I.A. (Association for International Solidarity in Asia), to preserve Tibetan culture and sustain the economic, social and cultural development both of the Tibetans still in China and of the refugees in India and Nepal.
The International Shang Shung Institute was founded in Italy in 1989 by Chögyal Namkhai Norbu. It’s aim is to deepen the knowledge and understanding of Tibetan cultural traditions in the West to ensure their survival and preservation. The International Institute currently has three main branches, located in Italy, Austria, and the USA, which work together as one to promote all initiatives to this end.
Over the past few decades, Westerners have become increasingly interested in incorporating the holistic medical practices of the East into their own practice and research. Due to political and cultural reasons, Tibetan medicine, one of the oldest and richest of Asian medical traditions, has largely existed outside the focus of the West. In order to address this need, the Shang Shung Institute has dedicated its resources to develop the first comprehensive Tibetan medical training program in English.
In the fall of 2005, the American branch of the Shang Shung Institute, located in Conway, Massachusetts, initiated its four-year program under the direction of Dr. Phuntsog Wangmo. This program is the first in the West to closely parallel the training of a traditional Tibetan physician in Tibet or India.
Students from around the world have participated in the four-year Foundation Course taught by Dr. Thubten Phuntsok, trainings in Kunye Tibetan massage, and related courses on specific topics taught by Dr. Phuntsog Wangmo, full-time faculty-in-residence at the Institute since 2001.