One Way Home
A film by Qingzi Fan
Social Justice, United States/China (2017) | 30 mins
“For three years the Tibetan students live and study in boarding schools only for the Tibetans. No one is allowed to go home until middle school is complete.”
One Way Home chronicles the lives of two students who have been granted scholarships to leave Tibet for Mainland China and pursue ‘higher education’. This is a highly coveted opportunity for it is believed that only those that study on the Mainland will have the chance to pursue the collegiate path. Teachers are interviewed who speak of how Tibetan students are restricted from speaking Tibetan so that they may master Mandarin before they move to high school.
This systematic destruction of culture seems to be passing by unacknowledged and unnoticed. When the interviewer gently asks the excited students if they will be learning any Tibetan courses in the Chinese high school they are on the precipice of entering, their faces grow confused. The answer of course, is no. When the interviewer asks if their parents have a problem with this, with their language being eliminated completely from their tongues, they are quiet once more, until one finally ventures, ‘They know … but there is nothing they can do. They want us to have a bright future’. ‘We all want to learn Tibetan,’ she continues, but even at 13 they have already reached a stage where they think in Mandarin and then struggle to translate into Tibetan. This then is the story of a generation that can no longer speak its own tongue, but is fluent in another’s.