Hi, my name is Tseten. I grew up in Dege, a very small village in eastern Tibet. It is a beautiful place with many clear lakes, high mountains, green meadows, and pastures. Nowhere in the world, I think, can you find as quiet and peaceful a place as my village. My family was half nomad and half farmer. We owned 155 yaks, 55 cows, and 200 goats and sheep. We also had two horses and four cats. We lived in nature and we rode in nature.
There were no cars, traffic, highways, skyscrapers, shops, or gas stations anywhere. It was an Eden where I could hear the chirping of birds, buzzing of insects, the moos of yaks, bleats of lambs, neighs of horses, murmurs of waterfalls, and the melodies of leaves in the whispering breezes.
I was such a naughty and curious little girl that everyone in my village branded me a tomboy. I was not afraid of anything. I started riding horses, yaks, goats, and sheep at the age of seven. I rode miles through valleys, over mountains, and near the rivers to herd my yaks, sheep, and goats to good grass.
Sometimes out of curiosity I tied the tails of cows together, and I put plastic bags on the heads of sheep—just to scare, not suffocate—them. If my mammy saw what I was doing, she punished me—by putting me with the sheep and goats in the basement for hours! I just kept playing with them. My mammy screamed at me, “Oh god, what should I do with the girl!” But my uncle always let me out whenever I wanted. In fact, he let me do whatever I wanted. He is like my godfather, and he still loves me from the bottom of his heart.
It was such a different childhood compared to childhoods here in America. There was no toy shop where I could buy toys like we have here. I never heard of Legos, play dough, colored pencils, or stickers. But I am sure the things I played with are rarely seen or used by children in this country, either.
I used raw yak dung like kids here use play dough, to mold many different things and then let them dry in the sun. I used flowers instead of Legos. I picked hundreds of different natural flowers and made beautiful necklaces, bracelets and hats—pieces of natural artwork. I’d mix up the petals and try to figure out which belonged to which stems—not easy! I played with nature.