Duo find new lives, homes a world apart

Updated: 2013-07-31 09:57

By Tang Yue (China Daily)

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He goes home at 6 pm every day. Brenda cooks and the family gathers for dinner. "We have strong family values," he said. "As China becomes wealthier and struggles with materialism, you can really get sidetracked. I think quality of life is in relationships, in the family. I don't need millions of dollars in the bank, I just need to provide good food for my family and I need a decent house.

Duo find new lives, homes a world apart

Douglas E. Wilford with his wife Brenda (second right), daughter Bethany and a friend at their home in Lhasa.

"We traveled to Africa last summer and have also met some Tibetan nomads. I told the kids these people have nothing. They probably don't have bank accounts, but they are happy and satisfied. That's a precious lesson for the kids."

The children are home-schooled and making friends can be difficult because the foreign community is small and the children have to spend a lot of time studying.

But Wilford believes the advantages of growing up in Tibet outweigh the drawbacks.

"The peer pressure in America is something I feel good about protecting them (the children) from. It can be very material, very superficial and when they get older, they focus on boy-girl relationships and they can go astray if they don't have a good moral foundation," he said.

"I think they are better prepared for life and adulthood by growing up in this environment, very close to nature."

Wilford's oldest daughter, Bethany, 17, will start college in California in the autumn, so the family will be based there for a year.

"I've only lived in America for a year. So I'm excited to go back and learn about my home country and culture. I know a lot of about other people's cultures, but I don't know much about my own," she said.

"I will definitely miss Tibet. I will miss the mountains; the sky is so blue and the weather is gorgeous here. The culture is unique and lovely. I grew up here. This is my home. I will try to come back during school vacations."

Contact the writer at tangyue@chinadaily.com.cn

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