By Michael Deng, United States and China
In the remote Tibetan village of Gongbuka, Sichuan, a different kind of social experiment was taking place. In 2008, Tibetan lama Ze Ren founded the Ranti School, the only educational institution in the village. As the only teacher, he has been funding and maintaining the school on his own. Now, in an attempt to let his children interact with the outside world and learn Mandarin, Ze Ren has decided to recruit volunteer teachers in the short term from all over China. Qu, a Tibetan college girl, became one of the first volunteers to come to the Ranti School. There, she encountered the 7-year-old Dan Tong, an introverted boy who grew up without his parents.