Skip to content
In September 2015, Alibaba Group founder Jack Ma Yun started a program to sponsor rural teac
hers. His Jack Ma Foundation then launched a Rural Teacher Award to honor the 100 top tea
chers around China each year and offer each of them 100,000 yuan ($15,000) and professional training for three years.
In order to attend the ceremony in Hainan on January 13, Thubten Gyatso had to leave Moding vill
age on January 10, ride a mule to Xulong county, and walk for two hours to Simaoding in Yu
nnan Province. From there, he took a bus to Shangri-La county and flew to Sanya, a tourist city of Hainan.
“Without Jack Ma’s campaign, I wouldn’t have had the chance to go to Sanya. I wanted to see what the sea a
nd big city are like,” Thubten Gyatso said.Born in 1986, Thubten Gyatso has worked in Moding village school for eight years. His onl
y colleague is Tashi Chophel, who was also Thubten Gyatso’s teacher when he was a student at the school.
When Thubten Gyatso was a child, he severely injured his right leg while walking in the mountainous roads and ended
up having to use an artificial limb. After graduating from middle school, he was forced to end his education.
“I was heartbroken, but there was no way for me to continue my studies. When I had time, I learn
ed the Tibetan language by myself,” Thubten Gyatso said in a video interview released on iqiyi.com.
The disability also meant Thubten Gyatso could not do any physical work. His teacher Tash
i Chophel suggested he work at the school to earn some money, and more importantly, to teach the children.