Too many cultures, too many different influences.: Becoming Minnesotan

Thupten Dadak.
  • Name - Thupten Dadak
  • Age at interview - 52
  • Gender - Male
  • Generation - First Generation American / Immigrant
  • Date of Interview - 07.26.2005
  • Students singing at a Tibetan Culture School meeting, Minneapolis, 2008.  Photo
    Youth basketball teams at the Tibetan Midwest Picnic, Madison, Wisconsin.

    We Are Here

    Generation Gap, Identity, Tibetan

    Essential Question

    We Are Here: What does it mean to this immigrant group to be here in America?

    Cultural Preservation: How does a person weave his or her traditional culture into a new American identity?

    Words to look for


    Background Information

    For Tibetans, it has been difficult to maintain a sense of Tibetan identity without having a homeland.  Those Tibetan who did not leave Tibet after the Chinese invasion have been forced to live under Chinese rule.  Tibetans who have immigrated to other parts of the world also face the challenge of trying to maintain their Tibetan traditions while living amongst people speaking other languages who have totally different cultural practices.  For the first Tibetan immigrants who arrived in Minnesota, it was even more difficult because there were very few other Tibetans around.  In addition, the U.S. is sometimes referred to as a “melting pot” because there are so many cultures that are all living together in America and influencing one another.  Tibetans feel very strongly that they must preserve their language and culture, so that younger children still understand what it means to be Tibetan.

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

    • Chapter 1

    Download Thupten Dadak 4
    1:50 Minutes | 1.76Mb


    Narrator: Thupten Dadak (TD)

    TD:  But then there is some kind of sadness because American is — what do you call it? Everything is in one pot. So, too many cultures, too many different influence. Sometime, I’m more worry than people who live under the Chinese, because here we have too much freedom and if you take freedom is not in the right path, it’s easy to lose.

    What that means — that the younger generations lost how I respect my father and how to respect other elderly. That sense is not only Tibetan. Almost all the immigrants, they lose a part of the culture and a part of this value. Especially as we are Tibetan, we are very small population. There’s only six millions. One Tibetan child cannot speak Tibetan or cannot read, that’s a big tragedy. That’s a big loss for us. So it might be also very dangerous with our community. Even though our community is very active doing things, but still, the community leader cannot force everyone, every family kids, to participate, to learn Tibetan language or read your reading. Even though we have a Saturday school, certain kids that come, certain kids that doesn’t come.

    Related Glossary Terms


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


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


    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.


    Noun:  A person who comes to a country to permanently settle from another country.


    Noun:  An action exerted by a person or thing with such power on another to cause change. 


    Noun:  A disastrous event, especially one involving great loss of life or injury.


    Noun:  The quality that makes something desirable or valuable; the degree of importance one gives to something. 

    Verb:  To regard highly; think much of; place importance upon.  (values, valuing, valued)


    Minnesota Historical Society. Becoming Minnesotan: Stories of Recent Immigrants and Refugees. September 2010. Institute of Museum and Library Services. [Date of access].
    nid: 148