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"Canada can, within a positive friendly atmosphere, ask the Chinese government to resolve the Tibetan situation."

Eastmorelanders remember Tibet trip in haiku book

January 31, 2008

By Rita A. Leonard
The Bee, Jan 30, 2008


An Eastmoreland family has commemorated their trip to Tibet by
publishing a book of “yak haiku”, with photographs describing their
adventures. The release party for “Yaku” will be held at Wallace Books
on Friday, February 8th, from 5:30-7:30 pm.

“Eight is a lucky number in China,” explains mom Kathy Schroeder, who
took the photos for the book. Daughters Clara and Anna Gustafson, now
students at St. Mary’s Academy, wrote the haiku poems.

Tibet is not entirely an unknown part of the world to these travelers;
their dad, Tom Gustafson, has worked in the wood business in China for
over 20 years. From 2005 till 2007, his family decided to join him for
an overseas adventure.

Daughters Clara and Anna, and son Peter, spent two years in a Chinese
boarding school, and are now fluent in Mandarin Chinese. On the vacation
trek to Tibet, they learned the importance of yaks to the Tibetan people.

“Yaks are central to the nomadic way of life in Tibet,” says Schroeder.
“They are used for transportation, as well as for food — both meat and
milk. Yak hair, bones, and dung also have their uses. We were inspired
by the Tibetans and their yaks, and wanted this book to be both
educational and entertaining for its intended audience: Children ages 7
and up. We chose February 8 for our release party, because 8 indicates
prosperity in China, and the date is right after this year’s Chinese New
Year.”

Clara Gustafson explains, “Yak bones are carved into combs and ornaments
used on prayer wheels, while yak butter is used for offerings at the
temples. Yak milk is also turned into cheese, which can be sculpted into
art forms.”

Her sister Anna adds, “Yak meat is eaten fresh, or dried as jerky. Yaks
have various layers of fur, and their hair is turned into felt and yarn,
which is used for clothing, blankets, hats, and prayer flags. Yak horns
are sometimes carved with Buddhist prayers.”

Yak dung is plastered against rock walls to dry, and is later used as
fuel for warmth and cook fires. Yak hides are turned into leather for
straps, backpacks and storage bags. The strong and sure-footed beasts of
burden also transport luggage, goods, and occasionally small children.
Yaks are well adapted to the high plateaus, where thin air, cooler
temperatures, rough terrain and a sparse food supply discourage other
large creatures.

“Yaku” can be purchased at Wallace Books, and other local bookstores.
Self-publishing the book has been a new experience for the authors, who
are also making available related materials: Note cards, postcards,
bookmarks, and toy stuffed yaks from China. The family says that the
book is dedicated to the nomads and yaks of the Tibetan high plateau,
and “celebrates the life and culture of a unique people”.
CTC National Office 1425 René-Lévesque Blvd West, 3rd Floor, Montréal, Québec, Canada, H3G 1T7
T: (514) 487-0665   ctcoffice@tibet.ca
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