Photo by Matt D’Annunzio
Huatse Gyal 13
Hometown: Amdo, Tibet
Who I was when I got to Reed: I was born in a nomadic region where we relied on yak dung as the primary source of fuel. During my childhood, I experienced very poor indoor air quality and the heavy burden of collecting fuel for my family. I wanted to help people find cleaner energy technologies.
How Reed changed me: Even before coming to Reed I had a passion about learning. I’d wake up at four in the morning and read things, write in diaries, and study Chinese and Tibetan literature. But I had a narrow understanding of knowledge as being something that you memorize, like a collection of facts. One day my Hum professor explained it’s not about memorizing facts, but about how to become a critical thinker. That changed the way I look at knowledge and the way I learn about things.
What I would tell prospies: If you are looking for a place where learning is truly cherished, this is it. It’s a place where you can be really who you are.
Influential book: In the Realm of the Diamond Queen by Anna Tsing.
Favorite spot: When I lived in Naito Hall I would go every night to the third-floor balcony for a break. The lights of the city put me in a more poetic mood. I love Portland.
Random thoughts: We have to be careful with the words we take for granted. It’s important to create innovative energy sources. On the other hand, it’s necessary to consider how such ideas are intertwined with the politics of power and pure profit-seeking business interventions . You have to ask, “Who’s deciding this? Who thinks it’s important?”
Cool stuff I did: President of the Asian Students Association. Got a McGill Lawrence grant to bring solar cookers to Tibet.
Scholarships, awards, or financial aid: The financial aid Reed offered me will greatly benefit a lot of people in both tangible and intangible ways. Including people from underprivileged backgrounds enriches the conversation. I learned to speak for people whose voices are not heard.
Adviser: Prof. Charlene Makley [anthropology 2000–]
Thesis: “Constructing ‘Civilized’ Subjects and ‘Stable’ Societies Through the Reorganization of Space: The Nomadic Settlement Project among Tibetans in Amdo”
What it’s about: Central leaders of the People’s Republic of China have launched large upscale ecological policies that include resettlement of nomadic Tibetan people. I explore how this reorganization is driven by the perception that the pastoralists’ unruliness is a threat to social stability and that communal land use is inefficient and creates a barrier to economic development.
What it’s really about: Thinking beyond widely accepted notions such as “environmental protection,” “scientific development,” and “formal education.”
What’s next: Trying to decide between international development or graduate studies.