A graceful, soft-spoken woman whose disquieting tales are often punctuated by nervous laughter, Ms. Woeser has become an accidental hero to a generation of disenfranchised young Tibetans. Like many of her peers, she was schooled in Mandarin, part of a policy of assimilation that left her unable to write Tibetan, and she grew up embracing the official version of history — that the Communist Party brought freedom and prosperity to a backward land.
HER pedigree is all the more notable because her father, the son of a Han father and a Tibetan mother, was a deputy general in the Chinese Army who oversaw Lhasa.
It was only at 24, after seven years studying Chinese poetry and literature, that she reconnected with her Tibetan DNA. During a visit to Lhasa, an aunt dragged her to the Jokhang Monastery, one of Tibetan Buddhism’s holiest sites, and she found herself overwhelmed by the emotional intensity of the faithful. “I was crying so loudly a monk told my aunt, ‘Look at that pathetic Chinese girl, she can’t control herself.’
“It was that moment I realized I had come home,” she said.