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Life Dedicated to Bringing Tibetan Arts to the World

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For 48-year-old An Guimin, nothing gave him more pleasure than watching the grand opening of Tibet Week during the Expo 2010 Shanghai on Sept 1.

An, director of the culture and art office under the department of culture of the Tibet Autonomous Region, has devoted the past two years of his life to cultural and art activities during the Expo.

During that time he has busied himself with a multitude of matters concerning the Expo and made countless trips between Shanghai and remote Lhasa.

But his busy work has affected his health, and he has developed gastric cancer, causing him to lose 15 kg in just a few months.

"While eating, he is always spitting his food out. I asked him to see a doctor. He always refused and said he was too busy," said An's wife Ashi.

Ashi planned to seek treatment in Shanghai in May for her own medical problems - serious heart disease and hypertension. However, when she got off the train and saw her husband, she changed her mind.

"Before he left Lhasa for Shanghai in late April, he weighed 84 kg, but now the man before me is gaunt and drawn," Ashi said with tears in her eyes.

In Shanghai, at the insistence of Ashi, An finally consented to see a doctor and was diagnosed as having a cancerous tumor.

"I know him so well. He has a hard time letting go of work, and doesn't notice his health. Doctors said his condition would not have been so bad if he had come earlier for treatment," said Ashi, who has cried many times since hearing the bad news.

The couple has been married for about 30 years, but they spent little time together.

"He has devoted almost all his life to culture. In Lhasa, he spent little time with the family, but put most of his time toward work," Ashi said.

Last week, An finished his second phase of chemotherapy and rested in a hotel, a rare moment he could spend with his wife.

"He cannot stop for a moment. Working all night is very common for him," said Lhapa Dorje, a good friend of An who has worked with him for many years.

"Once, I saw him still working on a report at 1 pm, so I told him to go for lunch. He said 'yes'. But after I came back he was still there working. It was 11 pm," Lhapa Dorje recalled.

Tibet Week kicked off at the Expo Garden on Sept 1 with the theme of "Heaven in Tibet". More than 400 singers and dancers from Tibet showed visitors the charm of Tibet with attractive programs. Activities and performances during the whole week received high praise from visitors around the world.

These programs were carefully selected by An and his colleagues. They looked throughout Tibet to pick out the most typical performances and art works.

But An did not attend the opening ceremony nor watch the Week's grand activities due to his sickness.

On the day before the opening of Tibet Week, he sent a text message to his colleagues that read: "We will usher in the big day tomorrow. How I wish I could participate in the opening ceremony to see the fruit of our two years of efforts. But because of my sickness, I cannot go there, but my heart is always with you guys, caring about every performance."

So An's colleagues made a video recording of the whole ceremony and sent it to An that night.

"After watching the video, he smiled. It has been very rare to see him smile during the past months," Ashi said.

"To demonstrate Tibet's most beautiful culture to people from around the country and the world, and let more people know about Tibet's great changes and great progress during past decades is every Tibetan person's wish. All my efforts are worthwhile," An said.

(China Daily September 29, 2010)

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