Tibetan Home School Liaison for the Minneapolis School District.: Becoming Minnesotan

Wangyal T. Ritzekura, c.2005.
  • Name - Wangyal Ritzekura
  • Age at interview - 52
  • Gender - Male
  • Generation - First Generation American / Immigrant
  • Date of Interview - 08.19.2005
  • Tibetan Culture School summer session, Wangyal Ritzekura in center, 2003.
    Tibetan Culture School New Year celebration, Minnesota.

    We Are Here

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    Essential Question

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

    Contributions: How is America better off because of this group of immigrants?

    Words to look for


    Background Information

    After 1990 the Tibetan Resettlement Project brought the first 160 Tibetan immigrants to Minnesota, and the Tibetan population continued to grow over the next ten years.  By 2000 the Tibetan population in Minnesota swelled to almost 1,000 and most of these immigrants were concentrated in the Twin Cities metro area.  With so many new students entering the Minneapolis school district it soon became apparent that these families needed someone to help them navigate through a completely foreign educational system and get the students off to a good start. 

    Many schools offer enrichment programs, like the one in the Minneapolis Public Schools, that will allow students to begin their studies in their home language and gradually transition to more and more instruction time in English. This is another reason why it is so important to have at least one person within the school district who speaks fluently in that language and can be a guide for that student.  

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

    • Chapter 1

    Download Wangyal Ritzekura 8
    2:22 Minutes | 2.28Mb


    Narrator: Wangyal Ritzekura (WR)

    Interviewer: Charles Lenz (CL)

    CL:  So you’ve had a very active role in education here and you’ve been involved with the Minneapolis school district.

    WR:  Right.

    CL:  Can you talk a little bit about your role like when it started and your role now with it with the school district?

    WR:  Well, I was hired in 1998 when district knew that we had pretty good size Tibetan children waiting in the school district and they also knew that there were many parents whose English was not very good. So they needed a person to act as a bridge, a link. So they hired me in the position of Tibetan Homeschool Liaison and I was the first person to be hired in such a position in the school district. And my job description is pretty limited but I, you know, I evolved my job to the extent that I included a lot of things which were not there.

    District realized that this position is really very useful for those communities who did not have a large number of children in school district. Hmong, Somali, no problem because they could have somebody in a school district, in a building. They have a good size of children. But there are others like Vietnamese, Tibetan...Children are very scattered in the school districts and they need somebody to help the school district to communicate with the parents and sometimes to help children in the school. So in that position I was hired and I’m still working in that position on a part time basis. And I enjoy doing this job because it helps me know Tibetan children.

    Minnesota is the only Tibetan community where high school graduates are recognized on a community basis, on a community level. And there are a lot of other things like college workshop is something that I started and which is really very useful.

    After school program and also we have this Tibetan...teaching of Tibetan is very much encouraged by the district too because they understand that a child who is strong in language, their native language, will also do very good in English, in learning English. So they encourage this under what they call enrichment program.

    Related Glossary Terms


    Noun:  An underlying condition or circumstance.


    Verb:  To express or convey ideas, either through verbal or nonverbal methods.  (communicates, communicating, communicated)


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


    Noun:  The act of adding emotional, intellectual, or monetary value.


    Verb:  To develop; to change.  (evolves, evolving, evolved)


    Noun:  The space, area, volume, etc., to which something moves to, stretches, or encompasses.


    Adjective:  Complicated.


    Noun: A person who establishes and maintains communication and cooperation between different groups.


    Adjective:  Belonging to something by birth.


    Adjective:  Of or pertaining to Vietnam.

    Noun:  1. Inhabitant of Vietnam or person of Vietnamese descent.  2. Language spoken predominantly in Vietnam.


    Noun:  A brief intensive course of education for a small group; emphasizes interaction and practical problem solving.


    Minnesota Historical Society. Becoming Minnesotan: Stories of Recent Immigrants and Refugees. September 2010. Institute of Museum and Library Services. [Date of access]. http://www.mnhs.org/immigration
    nid: 153