Somehow after so long of fervent blog resistance I am spending my precious time in Tibet blogging. It started when I first met Palzang, our community partner here in Lhamo, Tibet. He kept saying, “Everyone will hear our story”. I thought it was silly until I recognized the importance of storytelling in Tibetan culture. There is a story to every name and to every strangely shaped rock. So now, I have decided to tell our story.
Let me introduce the project. We will be building an eco-community center. This center will showcase brightly-colored bottles collected from nearby polluted streams, while maintaining traditional building techniques and style. Our hope is that this center will create a space that sparks conversation about trash, environmental planning, and unified efforts among nomads. One primary issue is about desertification of Tibetan grasslands.
The eco-community center will be a place for nomads and locals to address and learn about the desertification of the area. Desertification from rapidly changing weather patterns is a serious issue in the grassland areas surrounding Lhamo. This vulnerable area has the world’s highest-altitude marches and four nature reserves with many protected animals and birds. The green prairies that used to grow feet tall are now brown deserts with stony surfaces. As nomads are the primary inhabitants of the area with their grazing yaks and sheep, it is important that their voices are heard in finding a solution in reversing desertification in the grasslands. Lhamo is an ideal place for nomad collaboration due to their frequent stopovers in the town.
Last year Christina, Yutong, and Jin came to Lhamo to conduct surveys about people’s perceptions about trash and about how people would receive an eco-community center. After interviewing a hundred tourists and locals, the team had enough confidence in the project to come back this summer to start our journey. Before arriving, we had already made a relationship with our community partner – Palzang who works for Winrock International, an affiliate with USAID. He commits his life to preserving the Tibetan grasslands as well as Tibetan culture.
Throughout this blog, I want my voice to represent the group’s experience although I will write in first person. As for the group, we are a group primarily from the University of Virginia with volunteers from throughout China and the United States. Our group consists of six people: There is Christina who is an Anthropology and International Development Studies student, Maddie who studies Civil and Environmental Engineering, Yutong a religious studies student, Yuwei who studies Chinese and Western medicine, and Jin who studies International Relations. As for myself – my name is Katie and I study Urban and Environmental Planning.
Hope you enjoy reading about our journey and share our story – Tibetan-style.