Marieke ten Wolde's blog

Documentary photography, and other things interesting enough to bother you with

Cute kids

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Children’s Day in Tibet

After two weeks looking at blogs and Facebook entries I came to the conclusion that the favorite subjects are kids, holiday and fashion. Hmmmm, this blog is supposed to be about photography …

So let me first treat you to some cute pictures of Tibetan kids.

On a more serious note, these pictures were taken on ‘Children’s Day’ (formally known as the June 1 International Children’s Day) in Sershul (Tibet). On Children’s Day in China the primary schools will have a day of fun activities, mostly on stage performances in fancy dress with the proud parents watching.

To me this was just a fun morning watching very cute kids dressed up in traditional Tibetan dress and fancy outfits singing and dancing. Tibetans in general are very fond of children and are lenient with them, laughing about their play and mischief. So I was very surprised to see that my Tibetan companions were quite subdued during the event and seemed unhappy and unusually quiet afterwards. I wondered what was wrong and asked a few times without getting a real answer. So I already concluded that I must have done something wrong, but when I went over the events of the morning in my mind I could not really find where I could have crossed a cultural line. Well, as it turned out, I did not as there was a completely different reason.

This school in Sershul is a Tibetan language primary school with mainly Tibetan children in a very Tibetan nomadic area, but the teachers were mainly Chinese announcing the performances in Chinese, the songs and music were mainly Chinese and even some of the fancy dress was Chinese or Western and not Tibetan. So, although this is a Tibetan primary school, where in theory most of the education should be in Tibetan, the Tibetan language and culture seemed to be under pressure.
My companions did not appreciate this at all, and were surprised I had not noticed by myself. Without them I would only have seen the cute kids.

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Written by Marieke ten Wolde

September 1, 2011 at 17:36

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