Here in Minnesota, you are all the time encouraged to be only thinking money.: 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 American women in traditional dress; the apron signifies married status.
    Tibetan American youth biking for Tibet, April 7, 2004.

    Economics, Generation Gap, Tibetan

    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 sense of Tibetan identity.  The younger people have never lived in Tibet, and are much more influenced by the American culture around them.  Americans value good jobs, large salaries, big houses, and having expensive things like electronics, cars, clothes, and other things.  This contrasts sharply with the traditional Tibetan value of simplicity.   Although traditional Tibetan culture is still promoted by their leader the Dalai Lama and the Tibetan government-in-exile, many older Tibetans are afraid that the younger generation will lose their Tibetan language and culture.

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

    • Chapter 1

    Download Gyatsho Tssering 1
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    Narrator: Gyatsho Tssering (GT)

    Interviewer: Charles Lenz (CL)

    CL:  Do you worry about, even with all these acts of preservation, do you worry about the community getting too Americanized or—?

    GT:  Yes. Sure. That’s the thing. Yes. That kind of a danger we have to arrest. We try to — not arrest, but then, yes. But then if you can minimize it. Minimize that.

    But what I am saying is that maybe the third, fourth generation, they might lose their culture. They lose their languages and so on. If they go on, if the parents are not attentive, how they bring up children? And so...that kind of danger is very much there.

    So long as the Dalai Lama is there, even if the younger generation, if there are some wayward younger generation even then they will come into the right way in the community. How we do it, how we react it, how we bring up young children, how we brought up this thing.

    But then if you are there only concerned about material things and then trying to be only like in — I’m sorry to see that in the society that we have here in Minnesota, you are all the time encouraged to be only thinking money, money, money, money. That’s the trapping. Money is of course important for life but then that’s not the final thing. Money can’t be the thing. What’s important is the things which belongs to our mental realizations, mental culture. That’s value. Those values must be kept anyway, always. So that is the most important thing. 

    Related Glossary Terms


    Adjective:  Made American, in the custom, culture, or style of the United States of America.


    Adjective:  Paying attention; noticing, watching, listening, or attending closely.


    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.

    Dalai Lama

    The supreme head of Tibetan Buddhism, considered the spiritual leader of the Tibetan people.

    Listen to this word: 


    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.


    Adjective:  Worldly, as opposed to spiritual. 

    Noun:  Something used or made for the object of study.


    Verb:  To make (something) as small or as insignificant as possible.  (minimizes, minimizing, minimized)


    Noun:  The care to preserve; the act of keeping from destruction, decay or any ill.


    Noun:  The people of one’s country or community taken as a whole.


    Noun:  A collection of guiding, usually positive principles; what one deems to be correct and desirable in life, especially regarding personal conduct.


    Adjective:  Off-track; on the wrong path.


    Minnesota Historical Society. Becoming Minnesotan: Stories of Recent Immigrants and Refugees. September 2010. Institute of Museum and Library Services. [Date of access].
    nid: 138