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Studying journey of Shangri-La youths in Kunming

Publish Time: 2018-05-31 Author: From: China Tibet Online

After four hours of bumpy road driving from Sanba Township under Mt. Haba to Shangri-La City, Sha Wenjie takes a sleeper coach for 10 hours to arrive at Kunming South Station, and finally gets to the school by car. The first time Sha Wenjie traveled from her hometown to the Xishan campus of Hengshui Experimental Middle School in Yunnan, she experienced this "risky" long journey.

The Kunming "Dechen High School Class" was established in 2016, aiming at helping Dechen by implementing poverty alleviation through education. The project is co-opted for three groups of students and tuition is free. In the first group, a total of 35 students entered Hengshui Experimental Middle School. 40 students joined the second group, of which Sha Wenjie is one.

Faced with a good opportunity to study in Kunming, at first Sha Wenjie didn't know what to do. This far-away and unfamiliar city and the different learning environment made her anxious. He Di, a top student, was also at a loss: "On the one hand, I didn't want to leave my hometown. Everything there is familiar. But on the other hand, Kunming's educational resources are definitely more abundant, and I would be able to experience the greater outside world." Lhamo Yangchu, a girl in the same group, was a little scared of the teaching methods in the middle school: "I heard that the school was very strict and there was a lot of pressure, so I didn't know if I could handle it."

In the end, He Di decided to go to Kunming to study. Facing voices of dissention all around him, he jokingly said, "Just go ahead and do it!" Lhamo Yangchu decided that she would "work hard for three years for study", and also chose to go to Kuming. Sha Wenjie couldn't decide between attending the local high school or Hengshui Experimental Middle School, but she was admitted first by the latter, and so decided that to study in Kunming was "fate".

"In Shangri-La, we drink butter tea every morning, but no one in Kunming knows how to make it," He Di said. "In Shangri-La, there aren't any mosquitoe, but there are a lot in Kunming." When he first arrived at the school, He Di had a hard time adapting. Fellow Dechen Class student Kang Longshen, who had come to the school one year prior to He Di, suffered gastroenteritis that led to hospitalization because he had been unaccustomed to the new climate and didn't have enough health awareness.

In addition to the new living habits, Sha Wenjie, who had left home for the first time, also experienced unprecedented loneliness. "All is strange to me and I didn't have any friends! During military training, I called my parents crying. At night, I also cried secretly in my bed."

In order to help the students from Shangri-La integrate into their new environment as quickly as possible, the school specially arranged for local Dechen teachers to manage the classes and intermingled the students with other classes, so that the students could eat, room, and study with local students from Kunming.

For He Di and Kang Longsheng, who once had trouble in adjusting, one became class leader, and the other became the "sports star" of the school. He Di told reporters that he gets along very well with his Kunming classmate and they visit many places together. "I think I can call myself a half Kunminger!"

Sha Wenjie, who had cried a lot due to homesickness, gradually became more confident and cheerful. "Before I came to Kunming, my grandmother and mother would both warn me to be careful when go outside, and not to trust anyone else! But I found that the ‘outside' is not so terrible. The school's teachers and students are all really great." Sha Wenjie, who had been introverted, shy, and dared not look people in the eyes when speaking, is now confident and considerate towards the other girls in her dormitory who call her "Sister Sha".

In the process of adapting to Hengshui Experimental Middle School and Kunming, they also act as "ambassadors of tourism", introducing their classmates to Shangri-La.

"When I came for the first year of high school, our classmates asked us if we rode horses to school back home," He Di remembered, laughing. "I didn't realize they didn't know anything about Shangri-La. I used to talk to them from time to time about our hometown customs, and lots of them really want to visit!"

Lhamo Yangchu would bring milk products, dried yak meat, and other specialty products. "They really like eating these. Two days ago they begged me to call home and ask if my mother could send some more."

"Personal achievements are among the best, and have never been surpassed!" On the "Honor Roll" outside the door of his classroom, He Di has posted these words next to his own photo.

He Di said that the educational resources at the school are even better than he had imagined, so he should take advantage and study hard. "Give me a good platform, and I will do better than everyone else."

During the interview, He Di also made special mention of the "high-end" elective courses such as robot programming and 3D printing. "These have opened my eyes. I have decided to major in computer science in future, and I hope to be admitted to the top universities in China and to use my talents on a larger and higher platform."

For Sha Wenjie, she hopes to give back to her family by been enrolled in college.

"Despite the fact that it hasn't always been easy for my family, my father said he would make all efforts to support me for my studies and also help my brother and sister go to school. Last year, my elder brother was admitted into Yunnan University, and he was the first person from our village to go to university. I want to be admitted to an even better university so that my father will be happy and proud of me!"

Although she has left Shangri-La to study in Kunming and may go to an even larger and more distant city in future, Sha Wenjie constantly thinks of her hometown.

"I want to study medicine in university because health care level in Shangri-La is still quite backward compared with bigger cities. After I finish my studies, I will definitely return to my hometown as a doctor."

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