The lack of ruling in the class by the teacher – that was very different.: 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 American high school graduates, Minneapolis, 2000.


    Essential Question

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

    Assimilation: Does a person have to give up part of his/her culture to become more American?

    Words to look for


    Background Information

    There are many Tibetan schools operating in the refugee camps and Tibetan settlements throughout Indian and Nepal.  However, some Tibetans also choose to send their children to private boarding schools.  No matter where  these children attended school before they immigrated to the U.S., they were going to face some adjustment when they arrived in the U.S. and started going to American schools!

    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:  What was that like suddenly going to a brand new school? 
    TK:  It wasn’t as hard as I thought it would be. School was very easy. Like sixth grade here. It was very easy. The teachers were really cool but it was a very different atmosphere. Like students talking back and the regular stuff.  Again, lots of school changes along the way, so kind of used to that new environment thing.
    CL:  How was the — you said the school was easy but the teaching styles I know are very different between here and India.
    TK:  Yes.
    CL:  Was that difficult or easy for you?
    TK:  Yes. That was difficult at first because over here we were actually expected to understand all the concepts that we were being taught and kind of repeat it back in different formats, whereas in India it’s like parrot learning. Like you know, you read and you memorize and then you write everything down on the test. It’s pretty easy, if you know how to do that well. But over here it was a little difficult because it wasn’t about like memorizing. There was no memorization here. I remember...even math. Like we weren’t allowed — we weren’t supposed to memorize anything. We were supposed to understand the concepts and do like several problems to kind of demonstrate our knowledge and in that sense it was a little different. What else? Free time. Yes. We had recess. Sixth grade. That was very different. Having never had recess like during, you know, in the middle of the day. Yes, the lack of — I suppose the lack of like governing and the lack of ruling in the class by the teacher. Very easy going. Very relaxed. That was very different.

    Related Glossary Terms


    Noun:  The mood or feeling in a situation.


    Noun:  An idea; an understanding; a generalization.


    Verb:  To display; to show; to prove.  (demonstrates, demonstrating, demonstrated)


    Noun:  A particular political or social setting, arena or condition.


    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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