Editor’s Notes: Summer, bearing hopes while brewing the richness of autumn, is like a passionate and enthusiastic young Tibetan girl, ushering people to encounter the most vigorous and prosperous moments of their lives. This summer, in Pharsho Village of Shicang Township in Sog County of Nagqu City of the Xizang (Tibet) Autonomous Region, we encountered not only a fascinating landscape, but also the cultured richness of humanity. The people and the things of eons past struck a chord in our hearts. It is our heartfelt belief that this place has enjoyed true resonance with the times, with the local people striding calmly to and welcoming their new lives all the while.
"Dad! I made it to Lhasa and am getting signed up for college!"
As we were just stepping inside the house of Norgya, the village's Communist Party of China (CPC) secretary, he got a call from his son, Rashe. The college in question was the University of Tibetan Medicine. The man could barely contain himself as he hung up. He went on and on about how his son would be majoring in Tibetan medicine and pharmacology there. He then spoke on his dreams that his son would make a difference back home to help his fellow villagers after graduation. We asked if he ever mentioned the idea to his son to ponder. "Not yet," he replied. "That's something delicate that needs the right time to edge its way into the ear. Still, we got a whole four years for that."
"Edge its way…" Sounds like Norgya and this tiny village are moving forward with calm yet calculated steps.
Pharsho Village is seated in southeastern Shicang Township in Sog County of Nagqu City, which is mountainous for the most part. The village hosts a total of 36 households, accounting for 262 people. It has 37.8 hectares of arable land divided into 520 farming plots. Five households (with 22 people) were migrated from areas deemed unfit for habitation. Among the locals, there are 17 rangers to protect the local forest, 52 school students. Norgya, as the village party secretary, is now 55 years of age. From 1995 to 2014, he served as deputy director of the village committee, after which he was elected to take on his current role as the village’s party secretary. The demographics listed above are something he has to have ready to spout at any given time, save for minor adjustments here and there, of course.
2009 was significant for Pharsho's residents, for that was the year the public road system accessed the village. "There was no road available to my village before, and necessaries and goods had to be carried via either horses or livestock, not to mention humans themselves. Grain, appliances, tea tables, cabinets, threshers, and other agriculture-related machines purchased from downtown Nagqu first had to be brought to the foot of a mountain, where several villagers were asked to keep watch on the wares as piece by piece was hauled up the slope where the village was located."
In 2009, the state earmarked funds for locals to construct a road to access the village. "The thing is just super convenient," Norgya commented. "Beams for constructing houses, for example, can easily and swiftly be brought in from downtown right to people's soon-to-be front doors."
Since the road's construction, Norgya felt confidently empowered whenever engaging in "study tours" beyond the village borders. "Our small community has a most beautiful landscape and affluent culture. With the road to access our village now available, everything's set to push the development of our agriculture, animal husbandry, and tourism industries to a whole new level."
Indeed, the physical road is ready, but how about the spiritual road among villagers?
According to Norgya, in recent years, locals have undergone a big mental shift toward favoring education. Today, the village boasts four college grads. "Before, people would shy away from sending their kids to school and had them graze animals out in the grassland instead. Both the village and township committees were faced with nothing else but the arduous task of knocking on every door one by one to win them over on the importance of education in childhood development and show them how illiteracy can hold their children back in the long term. It was a brick wall at first. To them, it seemed nonsensical to send extra hands away. Today, though, the enrollment rate is 100 percent. On Friday and Sunday afternoons, the road is cram packed with people getting to Shicang Township Elementary whether via bike or car to pick up or drop off their kids for or after the weekend. It's like clockwork, and parents don bags big and small to welcome their children home or escort them back for another week of study."
Locals now have a common mindset that sending their kids to school can allow them to learn and become more aware of their home culture. Communication with the outside world is becoming more pervasive, and it has become glaringly obvious that having a lack of knowledge and education makes for a serious shortage of exchange opportunities.
Norgya's facial appearance is much like his father's. The two of them have eyes that brim with radiating vigor and tenacity. The 82-year-old father Gongsang Padan, seated to the side of where we were, is known for being the silent type. When he finally chose to open his mouth, however, his wisdom filled our ears and warmed our hearts.
When Gongsang Padan was young, he was a team leader of production in the village. When the 18th Corps of the People's Liberation Army (PLA) marched to Tibet via this land, he and his father participated with the team to help the army transfer goods. "I was in my 20s then. The township leadership arranged for a group of us from the village to handle goods transport. Over a dozen of us marched days on end, nights included, before we were finally able to halt and rest a bit. That was when we were met by a PLA contingent. We led the soldiers to Bangna Monastery, where we ate and drank together. It was a pleasant experience." In the end, he and his father made the trip and accomplished their goal in Palbar County, where the stationed contingent of the PLA granted him a mule. "The beast was a godsend for us later on."
We asked the octogenarian how he felt about his son taking up the torch. "He's a hard worker." We then asked the same from Norgya regarding his father. "Can't think of a better dad to have had." He then stretched out his thumb as if to seal what he had said.
Norgya's son told him he was going to be back for a bit after finalizing his enrollment at the college. It seemed to us that these three men lived in three separate generations, having different life experiences and expectations. Nevertheless, some sort of invisible, powerful thread linked the three. Perhaps it was the pride they had for one another.
Indeed, this thread can be found throughout the rest of Pharsho Village.
(Text by Wu Jianying, Wang Xi, Ngawang Norbu & Photos by Wu Jianying, Wang Xi ；Translated by Huang Wenjuan)
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