Since we aren’t sure of preserving our culture in our own country, we can try and preserve it outside our country.: Becoming Minnesotan

Tenzin Khando, c.2005.
  • Name - Tenzin Khando
  • Age at interview - 22
  • Gender - Female
  • Generation - First Generation American / Immigrant
  • Date of Interview - 09.20.2005
  • Tibetan children at a Tibetan Uprising Day rally, St. Paul.
    Tibetan American girl wearing headgear of Toe Tholing, Western Tibet.

    We Are Here

    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

    After China invaded Tibet in the early 1950s the Tibetan people have been forced to choose between staying in their homeland and accept Chinese culture, or migrate to another place in the world where they are more free to practice their Tibetan traditions.  Either way, it is difficult for Tibetans to maintain their sense of Tibetan identity while surrounded by other cultures and living under different laws. 

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

    • Chapter 1

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    Narrator: Tenzin Khando (TK)

    Interviewer: Charles Lenz (CL)

    CL:  So there’s a big push now, well, not now...there has been for almost fifty years now to really maintain Tibetan culture in exile. Why do you think that that is so important personally?

    TK:  Well, first off, the facts are that Tibetans are outnumbered by Chinese immigrants in Tibet, so you can see where that would lead to. Probably would lead to a destruction of culture within our own country. Since we aren’t sure of preserving our own culture in our own country, what we can do is we can try and preserve it with the millions of people who are outside our country. You know that that’s...that is a tough job, because when you’re outside you’re always in the midst of another culture. It’s always hard to grow your own culture while you are in another culture. That would be the importance of it, I think.

    You know, it’s’s the whole sense of identity that people have. If you don’t know who you are...I think identity is a big thing to it. Definitely. It’s important to know where you come from, who you are. I’ve been told this over and over again. So I can tell it to you like, right, that, but it is true when you think about it, because when you’re little you don’t really think about it that much. You’re like, “Okay, well, my parents are telling me this so it must be true.” As you grow older you realize that there is a grain of truth behind it. So, yes. I think it is important to try and maintain culture, Tibetan culture. That’s the only way of preserving Tibetan identity. We don’t have anything else as far as it goes. 

    Related Glossary Terms


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


    Noun:  1. The state of being banished from one's home or country.  2. Someone who is banished from one's home or country.

    Verb:  To send into exile.  (exiles, exiling, exiled)


    Noun:  The difference or character that marks off an individual from the everyone else; selfhood; a name or persona by which one is known; knowledge of who one is. 


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


    Noun:  Middle.


    Verb:  To protect; to keep; to maintain the condition of.  (preserves, preserving, preserved)


    Minnesota Historical Society. Becoming Minnesotan: Stories of Recent Immigrants and Refugees. September 2010. Institute of Museum and Library Services. [Date of access].
    nid: 147