Coming to America – The Immigrant Experience: From Tibet to the U.S.

Tenzin Choden left Tibet in 2004 in the search for a better life, but he didn’t get on a plane, because leaving Tibet is not an option due to the political situation in the country after China invaded in 1950.

According to Tenzin, people living in china cannot practice religion and are not allowed to have pictures of the Dalai Llama at home. He says that cellphones and cameras are also banned, and people are told what they are allowed to watch on TV.

Instead of staying, Tenzin escaped through the Himalayas with a group of roughly 15 people and nothing more than the clothes on his back. The journey took him three weeks to finally reach Nepal, evading Chinese police all the way. 

Once in Nepal, he traveled to the U.S. as a refugee, seeking opportunity, jobs, money and freedom.

“This country is amazing, so many opportunities,” Choden said.

When he arrived in the United States, a friend took him in. A few weeks later, he began working as a deliveryman for a French company in Chelsea. He had many different jobs throughout the years, and six months ago he took over Lungta, a Tibetan restaurant in Jackson Heights, Queens.

“Since I came here it’s a different kind of culture, languages, it’s amazing here,” Choden said. 


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