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New schools open in quake-hit Tibetan town

Updated: 2012-03-10 21:14
( Xinhua)

 New schools open in quake-hit Tibetan town

Two Tibetan students play at the newly-completed campus of No. 2 Middle School for Nationalities of Yushu County in Yushu, Qinghai province, March 10, 2012. [Photo/Xinhua]


YUSHU - Karma Tseji, 15, was among the early birds to arrive at the newly-completed campus for Tibetan students in his home county of Yushu on Saturday, the first day of the spring semester.

He had been looking forward to this day since he tearfully waved goodbye to his mother in the summer of 2010 and was sent away to a public boarding school in northern China's Shanxi Province, about 36 hours away from his home province of Qinghai by train.

He was among 8,600 middle school students who had to attend faraway schools after a devastating earthquake razed Yushu county and left nearly 2,700 people dead in April 2010.

Most of the students were sent to provinces of Shanxi, Hebei, Sichuan, Liaoning, Shandong, and Ningxia Hui Autonomous Region and Tianjin municipality -- places they had previously only known as points on a map.

"Our teachers and classmates in Shanxi were all very nice, but that didn't keep us from missing home," said Karma Tseji. "I always missed my parents and the warm yak butter tea my mother makes every day."

When he returned home this winter, he saw that many new schools had opened in his hometown.

Karma Tseji's new school, the No. 1 Middle School for Nationalities of Yushu County, had tall classroom buildings with crimson Tibetan-style roofs and white outer walls.

The new quake-resistent campus sprawling across 4 hectares cost 90 million yuan (about 14.26 million U.S. dollar), and features laboratories, a library, computer rooms and overhead projectors like any urban school.

"It feels like a dream," said Karma Tseji, who now also speaks fluent Mandarin. "It's the best school I could ever imagine."

The earthquake and the subsequent experience in Shanxi changed the teenager in many ways. He is no longer the naughty kid who often hated schoolwork and played tricks in class.

He said he plans to work hard to enter college and hopefully go on to graduate school.

Construction workers from across the country, who helped build the new campus, joined Karma Tseji and his peers at a gala featuring traditional singing and dancing.

Tian Xiaodong, project manager for the school's reconstruction, was as excited as a child. "We built the school brick by brick. The children's smiles are our best reward."

Thousands of primary school students, who were too young to travel far and have therefore spent the past two years in prefabricated houses that served as makeshift classrooms in their hometown, also entered their new campus Saturday.

"It's such a beautiful school," said Drolma Pantso, a fifth-grader at Yushu county's No. 2 Primary School. "I'll take care of the facilities in the same manner as I protect my own eyes."

Among Yushu county's post-quake reconstruction projects are 43 primary and secondary schools and 18 kindergartens.

Fourteen of the schools have opened for the spring semester, said Wen Guodong, a deputy official of Yushu prefecture. "A total of 47,957 students have registered, including 3,242 middle school students who have returned home from other provinces."

Another 27 schools will be completed before the fall semester begins in September, he said.