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Lighting up the Hangzhou Asian Games

By CHEN XUE| China Daily| Updated: August 10, 2023 L M S


Tsering Palzom is among the group of 19 torchbearers at the torch lighting ceremony of the Hangzhou Asian Games at Liangzhu Archaeological Ruins on June 15. CHINA DAILY

In 1990, when the 11th Asian Games was going to be held in Beijing — the first time a Chinese city hosted the event — the flame was lit at the foot of the Nyainqentanglha mountain in Tibet by a 15-year-old Tibetan girl named Dawa Yangzom.

Now, 33 years later, when the 19th Asian Games is soon to kick off in September in Hangzhou, Zhejiang province, there is also a Tibetan girl: Tsering Palzom, who was among the group of 19 torchbearers — "19" to commemorate the 19th Asian Games, which is the third time the event will be held in China.

"It might just be my speculation, but I do think that being a Tibetan girl was one of the reasons that I was selected to be part of the group — to pay tribute to Dawa Yangzom," said 19-year-old Tsering, a student majoring in broadcasting and hosting at Communication University of Zhejiang (CUZ) in Hangzhou.

Tsering, from Dechen county of Dechen Tibet autonomous prefecture in Southwest China's Yunnan province, first saw the recruitment information about the torchbearers in April. She had no idea whether she was going to make it through the various selection rounds, but "just to be part of it" was her initial motivation. To her, it is a once-in-a-life-time opportunity as she is studying in the city where the Asian Games will be held.

"Of course, I would try my best, but I knew that even if I failed, I would still get to meet many outstanding people with the same goal as me," she said. "And going through the selection rounds with them was already a learning process."

Eventually, Tsering became one of 11 students from her university to make the final selection list. On June 15, at the start of the 100-day countdown to the Hangzhou Asian Games, together with eight other girls from eight other universities in the province — including Zhejiang Normal University and Zhejiang University of Technology — Tsering performed the torch lighting ceremony at Hangzhou's Liangzhu Archaeological Ruins.

And Tsering isn't the only one in the group who is from an ethnic minority. There is also a Uyghur girl from Xinjiang Uyghur autonomous region, who is studying at Zhejiang University, and a girl from the Yi ethnic minority from Sichuan province, who also goes to CUZ.


Tsering Palzom is among the group of 19 torchbearers at the torch lighting ceremony of the Hangzhou Asian Games at Liangzhu Archaeological Ruins on June 15. CHINA DAILY

"The event was a good platform for people to see the ethnic diversity of China," Tsering said.

Developing an interest in broadcasting from a very young age, Tsering, whose mother tongue is Tibetan, took every opportunity she could to practice her Mandarin and her delivery. She participated in various activities, from being one of the broadcasters of her primary school's radio station to giving speeches at public speaking competitions right up to the provincial level.

After she was enrolled in CUZ last year, she is now on an even bigger stage where she can take part in grander events, including being a guide at Compilation of Classics in the Flourishing Age — one of the major exhibitions of the Zhejiang Exhibition Hall in April, and of course, serving as a member of the torchbearer squad for the upcoming Asian Games.

But to Tsering, the role of a broadcaster or host is not just presenting prepared content — he or she has to really know the information that is being delivered.

"Before the April exhibition, all the guides had to spend a month studying every painting, with each day dedicated to a different one," said Tsering. "It was a great opportunity for me to learn about ancient Chinese art in depth."

Before the torch-lighting ceremony in June, the squad also spent over two months training for the ritual and also gaining knowledge about the history of the Liangzhu Archaeological Ruins, which was added to the UNESCO World Heritage List in 2019.

"When we were little, we were all taught that China has 5,000 years of history, but to actually see proof of it left me in awe," said Tsering. "You would assume that early civilization was primitive, but Liangzhu was already a well-established city not only with houses and cemeteries but also with its own water conservancy project and even belief system."

Now Tsering is about to start her sophomore year, and she is looking to do more for the Asian Games. One of them is to be the voice of a phone application that introduces the sports involved in the Asian Games.

Being a broadcasting and hosting major, Tsering is using what she's learned at school about hosting to help Hangzhou be a hospitable host to the world.