XINING, Feb. 6, 2018 -- The 3,100-km journey home from his high school did not stress 17-year-old Sonam Wenjam, who comes from a Tibetan prefecture in Northwest China's Qinghai province.
On Feb 1, he arrived at Qinghai's provincial capital, Xining, after a 48-hour train journey from Shenyang, capital of northeast China's Liaoning province. He has been studying at Shenyang Xiangyu Middle school for three years.
From Xining, Sonam Wenjam and other students boarded buses and took another 10 hours to arrive home in Yushu Tibetan autonomous prefecture, about 800 kilometers from Xining.
"I miss my mother the most. I still remember when my parents saw me off at the bus station three years ago. I felt so heavy in my heart because the school is far from home, and away from my parents," he said.
"I don't feel so heavy-hearted now and I'm more sure of myself. It is a necessary experience for growing up," he said on the bus.
A total of 156 students took bus trips on Thursday, said Kumjo Doje, deputy director of traffic police in Yushu City, capital of Yushu prefecture.
Sonam Wenjam and the students are part of a competitive but promising national program that takes children from remote and impoverished areas in provinces such as Qinghai, Tibet autonomous region and Xinjiang Uygur autonomous region, and allows them to attend senior high schools in central, east and southern China.
Every year, thousands of students are enrolled in the programs. The programs are funded by the government. When schools are out of session for summer and winter holidays, educational authorities, schools and police arrange the students' travel back home.
This year, 2,195 students from Yushu studying in other provinces are expected to travel home for the new year. Officer Kumjo Doje said the figure is about half of the total number of students in the Yushu program.
"Not all students choose to make the journey during the Spring Festival travel rush, when the transport system is under a lot of pressure," he said.
The police department in Yushu shepherded the students' buses to ensure their safety.