Audio Recording of Interview
Tsering speaks about how her family of 10 immigrated to India from Tibet as Buddhists following the Dalai Lama and escaping persecution by the Chinese government, and of how her mother’s illness stopped her from attending school after the age of 9. She describes her Buddhist faith, the help of her sponsoring family, and how the Tibetan identity she’s fostered in her home and among the community in Somerville have all helped her succeed in the U.S.
Other interviews of this person can be found below:
Location: Somerville, MA
Summary: Tsering speaks about how her family of 10 immigrated to India from Tibet as Buddhists following the Dalai Lama and escaping persecution by the Chinese government, and of how her mother’s illness stopped her from attending school after the age of 9. She describes her Buddhist faith, the help of her sponsoring family, and how the Tibetan identity she’s fostered in her home and among the community in Somerville have all helped her succeed in the U.S.
Topics: Childhood, Immigration Process, Family, Employment/service, Community, Religion, Cultural Adjustment
Section 1: (00:00-10:59)
Childhood: Family of 10 immigrated from Tibet to India, partly because the Dalai Lama also immigrated (family is Buddhist) and partly because there is control by the Chinese government in Tibet. She stopped going to school when he was 9 years old because her mom was sick.
Immigration Process: Came to the US through a lottery system, specifically in the low income group. The US government supported 1,000 Tibetan refugees, and there were 3 groups- those who served the Tibetan office, those who didn’t have a permanent home in Tibet, and those that are low income.
Family: Her parents met on the journey immigrating from Tibet to India. The journey was by foot, crossing mountains, and took around 6 months.
Section 2: (10:59-20:03)
Immigration Process: After he got drawn in the lottery, she had to fill out forms, which his parents paid for. Around 50 people traveled from Tibet, and a group of 9, including her, went to Boston. When she came to the US, she had sponsors (a family of 4) waiting for her, and she lived with them for 3 months. During that time, she worked to pay off her airplane ticket price to the Tibet government.The sponsorship was helpful because it allowed her to save her money and pay the airplane ticket off quickly.
Section 3: (20:03-30:50)
Employment/service: After 3 months of sponsorship was up, she moved to Somerville and shared an apartment. She found a job there and worked 12-13 hours 6 days a week. 2 or 3 years later she saved enough money to visit her parents, and did so.
Family: She applied for citizenship, and petitioned for her siblings to come.10 years later, 2 of her sisters were able to come. She supports one of her sisters back home, as she cares for their mom. Her brother is a monk and also in the US.
Section 4: (30:50-45:13)
Community: 50 Tibets in the community, her sponsor helped her meet other Tibetans and took her to the city to meet them. She met her roommate through the community.
Religion: She is Buddhist, and they pray in the living room of their house.
Cultural Adjustment: In her sponsor’s house, the sponsor had said she can feel free to make tea, but this was shocking for her, as in India someone would never go to someone’s house and make themselves tea.
Family: Met her husband when he visited her co–workers. He’s from Nepal and came the same way she did.
Section 5: (45:13-58:16)
Religion: They have a prayer room in their house, with statues of the Buddha and Tara, and books. When the Dalai Lama came to the US, they visited and met him.
Cultural Adjustment: When they had kids, it was hard at first because they didn’t have any other family to help them. The kids attend Tibetan tutoring so they can learn to read and write Tibetan. It’s also important for her that her kids attend tutoring so they can read the Buddhist writings in Tibetan.
Section 6: (58:16- 01:05:28)
Community: Ever since they first came 25 years ago, the Tibetan community has grown larger, and now there are more than 3,000 Tibetans. But this has changed her community back home, as the younger generations are all gone as they’ve immigrated to other countries for better opportunities.
Cultural Adjustment/Family: For the first 3-4 years it was hard. She tried to learn English through her job and also paid to take classes. She really settled down when her brothers and sisters came to the US. Her heart feels settled now that she was able to bring her family and send money back to her mom.