There are few families who will stay Tibetan families.: Becoming Minnesotan

Gyatsho Tssering, c.2005.
  • Name - Gyatsho Tssering
  • Age at interview - 79
  • Gender - Male
  • Generation - First Generation American / Immigrant
  • Date of Interview - 07.29.2005
  • Tibetan Community Oral History Project Celebration, History Center, St. Paul.
    Tibetan Culture School meeting, Minneapolis, 2009.

    Essential Question

    Becoming Americans: What does it mean to be an American?

    Problems in America: What could have helped this person’s adjustment in the U.S.?

    Words to look for


    Background Information

    For Tibetan immigrants living in the U.S. it is difficult to maintain their Tibetan identity.  The younger people have never lived in Tibet, and are much more influenced by the American culture around them.  The Tibetan community in Minneapolis and St. Paul has worked to establish a Cultural Community Center where Tibetan children can continue to speak the Tibetan language, practice traditional music and dancing, and do other activities to maintain their Tibetan culture.  It is also important for Tibetan children to practice these things at home so that both older and younger people still understand what it means to be Tibetan. 

    To learn more about Tibetan history and culture, visit our Tibetan Community page.

    • Chapter 1

    Download Gyatsho Tssering 2
    3:46 Minutes | 3.62Mb


    Narrator: Gyatsho Tssering (GT)

    GT:  So that is the — that kind of concept that you have to ingrain among the younger generations, and it’s not easy. Because now they are brought up in a different atmosphere, different background and they have a — the feedback is quite different from what their parents used to have. So these conflict with generations. So that’s kind of a conflict. Sometimes, you know, it’s manifested in the form of a...what you call confusion among our own people. So those needs to be addressed.

    And then the Tibetan community did a very good thing that we starting this cultural community center. That was very much needed. Now it’s a good thing. That people can come and then get together in one place. That’s very, very, very important. That kind of a — and then to forge ahead, you know, that’s kind of — atmosphere, when you have an opportunity to get together in one place then you get to know each other and also then you feel the need for, importance for continuing one’s own languages. Especially, you know, when you — continuation of the languages and so on. So long as the language is there, the culture will be safe. There is nothing to be afraid of, to be worried about. But once the language gets distorted then there is the danger. The whole damage of Tibetan culture facing the threat of extinction.

    So I’m thinking there are few families who will stay Tibetan families. Very few.

    And then this other thing. I’ll tell you what the main problem was. Most of these families, they are not to be plagued with because they have...what’s it called? They are more concerned about — they have bought houses and then they have bought cars and so on. So they need yet to pay off the mortgages and so on and so on. The bills to pay. One of the parents, single, working alone won’t do that thing. So it was difficult for them to meet expenses alone. So both the parents started working and both started working. That was the main reason. Then their children got neglected. Then nobody to look after things.

    But this would have done like — in many of these circumstances we find that the parents were all the time not there. Disconnected. Not so much in touch with their children. And they say that we hardly meet our own children. We are one hour with them.

    It makes such a — the genetic transference, of the culture...I mean tainting...and then the spiritual kind of a tainting. The concept of being a whole, the Tibetan concept of being a Tibetan personality. That is a subtle, subtle transformation among the children. It’s not conscious.

    Related Glossary Terms


    Verb:  To handle and solve a problem.  (addresses, addressing, addressed)


    Noun:  The mood or feeling in a situation.


    Noun:  The conditions surrounding an event.


    Noun:  A group of people who share a common understanding of the same language, manners, tradition and law.


    Noun:  An idea; an understanding; a generalization.


    Adjective:  To be aware of one’s existence or state of being.


    Adjective:  Relating to the traditions and customs of a group or society.


    Noun:  The arts, customs, and habits that characterize a particular society or nation.


    Adjective:  Twisted; deformed; misshapen.


    Noun:  The costs in monetary terms for purchasing items or services.


    Noun:  The action of making or becoming extinct; annihilation.


    Noun:  A critical response to something.


    Noun:  1. A period of around thirty years, the average amount of time before a child takes the place of its parents.  2. A group of people who are of approximately the same age.


    Verb:  To make something deeply part of something else, either literally or figuratively.  (ingrains, ingraining, ingrained)


    Verb:  To display; to exhibit.  (manifests, manifesting, manifested)


    Noun:  A loan to purchase a home or other real property in which the property serves as the collateral.


    Noun:  A chance for advancement, progress, or profit.


    Adjective:  Slow; not obvious, barely visible.


    Verb:  To contaminate or corrupt (something) with something foreign, either physically or morally.  (taints, tainting, tainted)


    Noun:  The act of conveying from one place to another; the act of transferring or the fact of being transferred.


    Noun:  A marked change in appearance or character.


    Minnesota Historical Society. Becoming Minnesotan: Stories of Recent Immigrants and Refugees. September 2010. Institute of Museum and Library Services. [Date of access].
    nid: 139