Magazine Feature / People

International student balances old, new cultures

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Tenzing Shrestha strikes a balance between assimilation and maintaining cultural traditions.

Tenzing Shrestha, a graduate international MBA student, has spent a good portion of his life assimilating to new cultures while, at the same time, trying to maintain family and cultural traditions.

“My parents are originally from Tibet and they trekked into Nepal in the early 60s as Tibetan refugees to escape the Chinese repression,” he says, explaining that he was born into a family that practiced Tibetan traditions in a Nepalese environment.

“Growing up, I used to see that my family, my culture and the language that I spoke at home were different from those of my Nepalese friends. At home, I learned the Tibetan culture and at school, I learned the Nepalese culture.  So, from a very young age, I was striving to achieve a balance between assimilating and not forgetting my heritage.”

As a new student to the University of Denver last fall, Shrestha noticed that many other international students were changing their names to “Americanize” them, and he began to study his balance between assimilation and honoring his own culture. He even found guidance in class assignments.

“In one of the readings for my business leadership class, there is a line that states that for a leader to be effective, their past, present and future should always be aligned.”

At the same time, Shrestha says he continuously strives to learn about other cultures.

“I managed to tear down a lot of stereotypes I had about people from other cultures by interacting with them,” he says. “DU is a place full of diverse individuals and I think while we are here we should not only be aware of them, but also try to understand them.”

Shrestha says that the Dalai Lama summed up his approach to cultural assimilation: “Open your arms to change, but don’t let go of your values.”

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