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Tibet Oral History Project: Interview with Dawa Tsering on 1/6/2014

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Published on Mar 23, 2018

The interpreter's English translation provided during this interview is potentially incomplete and/or inaccurate. If you are not fluent in Tibetan, please refer to the interview transcript for the complete and correct English translation. Read the interview transcript in English at http://tibetoralhistory.org/Interview...

** This interview about life in Tibet was conducted by the Tibet Oral History Project. This non-profit organization aims to preserve the history and culture of the Tibetan people by interviewing elderly Tibetan refugees about life in Tibet before and after the Chinese invasion. Learn more at http://www.TibetOralHistory.org.

** Interview Summary: Dawa Tsering began working in the fields and grazing animals at around age 8, as there were no schools. His family grew different types of crops twice a year like grains, corn, rice and peas. He remembers going to graze goats and sheep in the mountains that surrounded his village. Dawa Tsering describes an incident when a leopard killed the flock of sheep he was tending on the mountain. He explains that the regulation against killing wild animals in his region was due to the people's belief in a mountain deity. Dawa Tsering describes his work as a teenager, which was to cut wood into boards for constructing houses. His life changed at the age of 18 when he began to work as a trader between China and Lhasa, bartering a medicinal plant called edi bhemu for tea, brown sugar cubes and noodles. Since the Chinese had occupied Tibet already, there was no official border crossing to be made. Dawa Tsering thought that China appeared more prosperous at that time than Tibet. At age 20 Dawa Tsering became a transporter, transporting goods on his mules for various merchants between Phari, Tibet and Kalimpong, India. He recounts that in 1958 the Chinese stopped trade movements between India and Tibet. These circumstances led him to join the Chushi Gangdrug Defend Tibet Volunteer Force. He stayed 6 months at Namgangtse. A losing battle with the Chinese army forced him to flee onwards to Bhutan and India.

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