Tibetan Students Chase Dreams in Beijing
   2012-12-17 22:32:38    Xinhua      Web Editor: Guo Jing
Though Kyangpa often longs for the azure sky of his hometown, he knows there's a better chance that his dream of going to university will come true in Beijing.

At 18, Kyangpa is a third year student at a Beijing-based high school for Tibetan students. He is scheduled to sit next year's national college entrance exam and hopes to major in management science at a university in Beijing.

Heavy snowfall over the weekend cleared up smog that had been lingering over Beijing for days, making the capital city a little more like his snow-clad hometown, Lhaze County, Xigaze City, the second-largest city in southwest China's Tibet Autonomous Region.

A farmer's son, Kyangpa stood out among his peers as a child. He was admitted, through recruitment exams, to a junior high school for Tibetan students in Shanghai for three years before moving on to senior high in Beijing.

He is a student leader and served as president of the school's student association until last year.

"Now, I just want to concentrate on my schoolwork in order to get good grades and stand out in the college entrance exam in June," he said. "I hope to enter a good university."

His work at the student association sparked his interest in management and communication. "I hope to study management science and my desired university is China Agricultural University."

Kyangpa and his schoolmates are all proficient in Tibetan and Mandarin and they have also studied English for many years.

"English is the most difficult subject for me -- much harder than Mandarin. But most girls think otherwise," said Kyangpa, who has been studying English since primary school.

His schoolmate Karma Drolma, however, thinks English is "a piece of cake."

Karma Drolma is secretary of the student association and a straight-A student. She hopes to become a baker after university.

"I hope my future job will grant me more freedom, so I can have enough time to travel around the world and help needy people," she said. "My ideal life would be challenging and colorful."

About 800 students from Tibet currently attend Beijing Tibet Middle School, located north of downtown Beijing near the Bird's Nest, a landmark site of the 2008 Olympic Games.

"They are just like their peers from other parts of the country. Some have better academic performances than others, and some are naughtier," said Shang Weidong, a school official in charge of student affairs.

"I'd say they have all the traits of children born in the 1990s: they are confident and somewhat self-centered, but most of them know precisely what they want to pursue in their lives," said Shang. "At school, they are treated as equals."

Ninety-five percent of the teachers are from the Han ethnic group, which represents the bulk of China's population. Teachers are also brought in from Tibetan areas to educate students on Tibetan language and culture.

Unlike other migrant children studying in Beijing schools, these Tibetan students enjoy free education, food and lodging on campus throughout their years of senior high school.

China's compulsory education system covers only the nine years from primary school to junior high school.

The government also covers their travel expenses from Tibet to Beijing.

China has sent Tibetan students to study at high schools in inland cities since 1985, in the hopes of training more professionals for the underdeveloped plateau region and subsequently boosting Tibet's development.

Almost 67,000 Tibetan students have attended high school in inland regions, including Beijing, Shanghai, Tianjin and Chongqing municipalities as well as the eastern provinces of Zhejiang, Jiangsu and Jiangxi. More than 12,000 of them have gone on to university.

The free education has enabled more hard-working Tibetan children to attend school, even if their families are poor.

Sonam Chozong, a first year student, said she feels lucky to attend to Beijing Tibet Middle School.

One of four daughters in a farmer's family in Qamdo Prefecture, Sonam Chozong's father died in a car accident when she was young. She grew up in a welfare home because her mother, whose arthritis sometimes leaves homebound, could not care for all four of her daughters.

She attended junior high school in Nanchang, capital city of east China's Jiangxi Province, and moved to Beijing for senior high school this year.

"I call my mom and sisters on weekends on my cell phone," she said. "We all hand in our cell phones to the teachers during the weekdays, just in case we might waste time playing games and chatting endlessly."

Sonam Chozong said she loves her school, because her teachers always encourage her to "work hard and earn a better living," and her classmates are all friendly and hard-working.

"We often chat with the students to see if they have any problems with their schoolwork or in their lives," said Li Xudong, who teaches Chinese to third year students at Beijing Tibet Middle School.

"We ended up in a heated debate once, over a question on their test papers regarding national cohesion and cultural diversity," said Li.

Some students held that the influx of Han people to Tibet took job opportunities away from Tibetans, he said. "Eventually, we agreed that people of all ethnic groups should improve their skills in order to compete, and people from other parts of the country are also trying to help Tibetans in this regard." Li's classes also touch upon international issues, including the situation in Syria and the U.S. presidential election. "The students were all agitated when we talked about the Diaoyu Islands -- everyone said firmly they are Chinese territories."
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