The young man sitting across from me spoke some English. We were keeping warm round the stove as a snow storm picked up outside. "I am Tibetan boy," he said, "My name is Danny."
I asked him how he learned English. He explained he'd been to India—had studied for two years in Dharamsala, home of the Dalai Lama and the Tibetan government-in-exile. Danny was from a Tibetan village not far from where we were sitting—a sparsely populated region in northern Sichuan.
The border with the Chinese province of Tibet was quite some distance away but Tibetans constitute a majority in these parts as well as in parts of Gansu and Qinghai and of course in Tibet itself. (Prior to the Chinese takeover, the country of Tibet included most of Qinghai as well as the modern-day province of Tibet. Half of China's four million Tibetans live outside the province of Tibet.)