Soaring Entrepreneurial Spirit of a Tibetan Girl

2019-03-04 10:08:00 Source:China Today Author:By staff reporter MA LI
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DEKYI, a Tibetan girl, had a decent, desirable job in a hospital in Chengdu of southwest China’s Sichuan Province following graduation from university, but her dreams lay elsewhere.


In 2016, Dekyi opted to work in a travel agency for a year, and then returned to her hometown with the experience she had gained from the travel agency, and resolved to build a new residential quarter for homestay service in a mountain area. “I have always had a dream, I must come back here. This is where my dream began and it is where my dream came true.” Dekyi started her own business in her hometown.


A Place Where the Dream Was Born


Dekyi’s home is in Zhonglu Tibetan Village, Danba County, Garze Tibetan Autonomous Prefecture of Sichuan Province. This is the best-preserved Gyarong Tibetan community in Danba County. Not far from the county seat, the village retains the traditional architecture and way of life of Gyarong Tibetans.


Dekyi possesses a deep affection for every tree and blade of grass here. “Look at how beautiful my hometown is. Pear blossoms bathe in rain in spring, fluffy clouds float in the sky in summer, the maple leaves are ablaze with color in autumn, and the prayer flags flutter in the snow in winter.” With pictures saved in her mobile phone, she is proud of the beautiful scenery of her hometown all year round.

Dekyi overlooks her hometown from the residential quarter under construction.


“When I was seven or eight years old, I used to take the cattle for grazing on this hillside and immerse myself in the scent of flowers in the mountains. I often thought that in the future I must go out of the mountains to learn a lot of knowledge, and then come back here.” Dekyi said that her greatest dream as a child was to build two big beautiful houses in the wasteland where cattle were herded, so that visitors from all over the world could see the beautiful scenery here, appreciate Tibetan customs, and enable the villagers around her to live a happy life. This dream became the driving force that kept her moving forward.


In 2009, in response to the government’s call to develop tourism, Dekyi’s father took the lead in building a homestay business. However, due to the low levels of tourist inflow and seasonal constraints, the income from the business is not high. In the off-season of tourism, Dekyi’s father has to work in the construction company. Her father’s hard work gave Dekyi the opportunity to leave the mountain and venture out to the outside world. “I hope to give my father the best reward by realizing my dream,” Dekyi said.


The First Girl to Start a Business


In Dekyi’s hometown, parents hope their children to go to college, get out of the mountains, and earn a decent salary. In 2017, Dekyi quit her job in Chengdu and built a house on the barren slopes, which aroused opposition from her parents and misunderstandings from the villagers.


“Like my father, who was the first to take the lead in household accommodation, I was also the first college graduate to go back to the village to start a business.” Dekyi said she could understand the apprehension of her parents, relatives, and friends, but she wanted to prove her point through her own actions. “I hope I can set an example for the millennial youth in my hometown. If more young people with ideals and aspirations come back, the development of my hometown will be achieved.”

A view of Dekyi’s dream project under construction.


While planning to build new residential quarters, Dekyi also helped her father upgrade the family’s farm to attract more tourists. WIFI connection, traditional Gyarong Tibetan decoration, and the renovation of the guest room are all her ideas. The upgraded farm is becoming increasingly popular with tourists, bringing more economic benefits to families. Gonpo, Dekyi’ father, who had never praised his daughter in front of outsiders before, openly talked about the changes that Dekyi brought to the farm after returning home.


On March 15, 2018, on the hillside of Zhonglu Tibetan Village at an altitude of more than 2,000 meters, Dekyi’s new residential quarters began construction. Unlike her father’s farm, she built two Tibetan towers for high-end tourism.


It takes millions of RMB to build a new residential quarter, which is prohibitively expensive for Dekyi and her family. Some friends who support Dekyi’s entrepreneurship have lent her money to solve this problem. “Debt is the driving force for me to move forward. Those friends who lend money to me all support what I do. I believe that through hard work, I will pay off all debts in three years, and reap profits,” Dekyi said, confident of her career.


At present, Dekyi’s new accommodation has entered the decoration phase. It will open on May 1 this year to welcome its first visitors. Looking back, she said that there are gains and growth. “Trust and support have been harvested on the road to entrepreneurship.”


Retaining Tibetan Culture


On the social platform Douyin, Dekyi is an absolute celebrity. She often uploads short videos about Gyarong Tibetan culture, each of which reaches hundreds of thousands viewers.


“We must use the latest means of communication to market ourselves, and use the advantages of the Internet to promote our homestay business, customs, and culture.” Dekyi believes that this is not simple marketing, but based on a profound national and cultural background.


Dekyi said that what she valued most was the culture embedded in the residential quarter. There are not only Thangka (rolled painting) and Hada scarf, but also authentic Tibetan folk dances and cuisine. “Dekyikhangwa, the name of the lodging, is the name of the Queen’s Hall in the legend of the Eastern Woman Kingdom. Hopefully, this accommodation will enable foreign tourists to experience authentic Gyarong Tibetan culture,” Dekyi said.


After Dekyi’s boarding house opened, she was able to provide jobs to more than a dozen people in the village. She hopes to promote tourism of the whole village and even the whole town through this model.


In 2018, Kangding, Luding, and Rongchag counties in Garze Tibetan Autonomous Prefecture of Sichuan Province took the lead in the construction of demonstration zones for rural revitalization, so as to reduce poverty and galvanize rural development. The first 39 demonstration villages will be completed in May 2019, and Zhonglu Tibetan Village where Dekyikhangwa is located is one of them.


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