There is always that expectation that each generation do better than the last.: Becoming Minnesotan

Tashi Lhewa, c.2005.
  • Name - Tashi Lhewa
  • Age at interview - 24
  • Gender - Male
  • Generation - First Generation American / Immigrant
  • Date of Interview - 08.28.2005
  • Dorjee Norbu with his family at his graduation from Carleton College, 2005.

    Education, Family, Tibetan, Work

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    Essential Question

    Life in the Old Country: What makes a country a person’s homeland?

    Traditions & Values: What makes up “culture”?

    Words to look for


    Background Information

    Tashi’s grandparents, like many other Tibetans, fled their homeland of Tibet when the Chinese invaded in the 1950s.  India is a country that borders Tibet to the South, so many Tibetans have ended up there. 

    Tashi’s parents struggled when they first arrived in Darjeeling, but they were educated and resourceful.  They were able to earn enough money to send Tashi to Woodstock School, a boarding school in Mussoorie, India that provides an excellent education for students.

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

    • Chapter 1

    Download Tashi Lhewa 1
    2:26 Minutes | 2.34Mb


    Narrator: Tashi Lhewa (TL)

    Interviewer: Dorjee Norbu (DN)

    DN:  Did you feel any pressure from your parents to go into a professional field or was it just kind of your free choice?

    TL:  There was pressure to go into professional field.  Actually, my dad was strongly pressing that I go into computer science or some computer-related field.  My mom wanted me to go into the medical field.  I kind of disappointed them both.  But, yes, generally Tibetans — parents generally have the tendency to want their children to go into some medical line or medical field.  So a lot of my cousins are going into medical school right now.  But I guess they weren’t as disappointed with me going into law but they were worried. 

    DN:  Do you think the high expectations from Tibetan parents, do you think is that because of our past or why do you think...what drives our parents?

    TL:  It is.  Generally Tibetan — the Tibetan family is a unit.  There’s a lot of — and not only restricted to Tibetan families but also just any Eastern family, there is a lot of emphasis where children are expected to excel to a certain degree where the parents or financial concerns are not the responsibility of the children.  The parents will take care of that but the children’s main goal is to study and do well.  And that’s where the focus should be.  Especially with Tibetans, especially...there’s always the expectation.  Especially among the refugee community, that each generation do better than the last generation and we improve somewhat. 

    When my grandparents came here originally, to India from Tibet when they fled Tibet, they had nothing.  My mom — my dad and mom both were around ten years old.  And at that time they literally had to beg.  That was like the first experience my mom had begging.  And so she had to beg on the streets in Darjeeling, which is a small town in northern India.  And so they worked really hard to improve their living standard and to give me an opportunity.  A lot of the Tibetan children — I was actually blessed to have the opportunity to go to Woodstock.  A lot of Tibetan children don’t have such opportunities and my mom — they had extravagant tuitions there as well.  It was a premier school.  So my mom had to work very hard...both my parents had to work very hard to put me through.  And so there’s always the sense of obligation that you have to live up to their standards or the expectations that they have. 

    Related Glossary Terms


    Adjective:  Having divine aid, good fortune, or other blessing.


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


    Verb:  To motivate; to provide an incentive for; to compel.  (drives, driving, drove, driven)


    Noun:  Special attention or forcefulness given to something considered important.


    Adjective:  Of or relating to Asia or the Far East.


    Verb:  To do much better than others.  (excels, excelling, excelled)


    Noun:  The act or state of expecting or looking forward to an event as about to happen; that which is expected or looked for; the prospect of the future.


    Noun:  1. Participation in events, leading to knowledge, opinons, or skills.  2. The knowledge thus gathered.


    Adjective:  Exceeding the bounds of something; extreme; exorbitant.


    Noun:  A course of study or an area of knowledge or practice.


    Adjective:  Related to finances, the management of money and other assets.


    VerbTo run away; to escape.  (flees, fleeing, fled)


    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 social, legal, or moral requirement, duty, contract, or promise that compels someone to follow or avoid a particular course of action.


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


    Adjective:  Very first or very highest in quality or degree.


    Noun:  1. Pressing; force.  2. Mental strain caused by one's own or others' expectations on one's own performance.


    Adjective:  Describes a specific field of work that requires above average education and a specific set of skills.

    Noun: A person who works in a job that requires a lot of skills or training.


    Noun:  A person forced to leave his or her own country and seek refuge in a foreign country out of fear of persecution or violence or because of poverty or natural disaster.


    Noun:  A likelihood of behaving in a particular way or going in a particular direction.


    Noun:  A sum of money paid for instruction (such as in a high school, university, or college).


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