Tenzin Lhamo Interview,
by Natalie Giustini
I met with Tenzin Lhamo on May 8th at the Tibetan Alliance of Chicago. We had a chance to talk while her three daughters were busy learning Tibetan in one of the classrooms at the center. Everything about our surroundings was pushing us into a conversation about motherhood. It was Mother’s Day, and there were children running around the entire time we talked. During our talk, Tenzin and her husband shared with me their insights about parenthood during the pandemic, and how they instill the principles of hard work, kindness and compassion in their children.
We began our conversation by talking about parenthood during the pandemic, and the strategies Tenzin used to make sure that her daughters were not falling behind in their education. Unfortunately, during the pandemic, the Tibetan Alliance of Chicago was closed, and Tenzin’s daughters completed all of their schooling remotely. However, Tenzin and her husband were not disillusioned by these challenges. She told me that “life is uncertainty”, and that she saw the pandemic as an opportunity to show her children that “you have to be strong”.
Tenzin repeated multiple times the fact that she never wants her kids to fall behind. Her greatest wish is for them to take advantage of all the United States has to offer.
“I don’t want my kids to feel like, ‘I’m left behind.’ That’s how I felt when I came here to the States, because of my communication [skills]. Wherever I go, because of my accent… I feel like I’m left behind. This is my individual experience. That’s no complaint but just since you’re taking my interview, I should be honest.”
Because of this, Tenzin and her husband do their best to introduce their children to everything they can. Their daughters regularly take swimming and ice skating lessons, and are brought to the community center every Sunday to reconnect with their heritage and learn Tibetan.
Sometimes, Tenzin’s daughters face challenges when doing these activities, but she reminds them that the only thing that matters is that they try.
“My oldest girl, she told me, ‘Mommy, swimming is a little hard.’ Then I said, ‘I don’t care if you do it or not; you do your best. You give your full effort. Now she’s getting better. And I said, ‘I’m so proud of you. You are doing it. I’m your mom. I love you.’”
To Tenzin, more important than raising accomplished children is raising hard working children who have good character and morals.She said religion and morality are integral to her life, and she frequently called herself a “God lover”.
More than anything, said Tenzin, “I want my kids to be kind”. “You can make the world a better place by being nice and kind.”