More than a highland fling
Updated: 2013-06-04 10:52
By Tang Yue (China Daily)
Bride Sharon Getter and groom Malcolm Mitchell at their wedding in Lhasa. Photos by Daqiong / China Daily
Most visitors from abroad are tourists to a mystical land, but one man came to marry his sweetheart who had been living and teaching here for more than two decades. Tang Yue traces their romance in Lhasa.
It was a mixed-style wedding that was multilingual, with the guests chattering happily away in English, Mandarin and Tibetan. The bride and groom wore traditional Tibetan clothes with fur hats and their well wishes came bearing strips of the Tibetan "blessing silk", or hada.
It was May 11, and the wedding ceremony was being held at the Niangre Holiday Village in the northern suburb of Lhasa. Malcolm Mitchell, 55, had come all the way from San Diego to tie the knot with Sharon Getter, 54, an American who has been teaching English in the city since 1987.
Most of the nearly 200 guests were Getter's students and the rest were her colleagues at the Tibetan Academy of Social Sciences and her friends from the expat community living in Lhasa.
"I started crying because of all the love from my students. I am just a teacher. Not a big person. But so many people came and their love is very moving," says an emotional Getter, who was going back to the United States two days after the ceremony.
"It is very difficult to leave. This is where I have been living for many years. I love my students, love their sense of humor. It has been a fun place to live and to teach for more than 20 years."
Her husband was impressed by the love she received here.
"I'm very proud of her. This is my first visit to Tibet. I watched her speak the language, both Chinese and Tibetan. She has so many friends from different professions and different levels of education, from the very high level all the way down to very simple people, but they all have mutual respect."
Getter started teaching English at Jiangxi University in East China in 1985. And when there was a chance to teach in Lhasa, she signed up at once.
"It was very hard but it was very exciting. Our house didn't have water, didn't have a toilet. But it didn't matter. I had to teach by candlelight sometimes. The situation has changed, and it is much easier but I enjoyed the simple life at that time because they needed me and we became very good friends," she says.
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