“I worked as a holiday rep in Tibet, my Dutch wife as a holiday rep in Asia. She came to Tibet with a group of tourists and that’s how we met. We fell in love and eventually got married in Lhasa (Tibet). We lived there at first, and later travelled together through Asia. When I decided I wanted to see the Netherlands we went there on holiday. Travel outside Tibet is not as easy as it might seem. It’s not easy for a Tibetan to get a passport. We had to apply for a Chinese passport as we are officially part of China and in my case this took more than a year.
I was given a Dutch visa for three months, and after this period of time I know I wanted to live in the Netherlands , in particular in Amsterdam. I felt at home here. My mother was extremely upset and wanted me to go back. Sadly, it’s been more than four years since I last returned. I’ve since received the Dutch nationality and a Dutch passport. Because I’m a Tibetan with a western passport it’s practically impossible to obtain a Chinese visa. I would love to return, mainly as I have a son who turns seven in October, but it isn’t easy. He went when he was a year old but doesn’t remember anything of the trip.
I tell my son a lot about Tibet. I tell him about my childhood and the simple things I learned from my parents: never steal, lie or gamble! And treat others how you would like to be treated yourself. respect each other.
I feel really at home in Amsterdam. The diversity, the dynamic lifestyle, the innovation, the international community. Everywhere you walk you bump into different cultures. You can do anything here, there’s a lot of freedom. You can be who you want to be and say what you want to say. At first it took some getting used to. Especially when children are allowed to talk back to their parents or students may talk back to their teachers. Have their own opinions. My son has his, too. And I secretly love this. I was a child once, too, but thanks to Tibetan culture I wasn’t used to saying what I thought. Even if I thought that what a teacher said was wrong, or I had a different opinion, I would not say anything. In Tibet that is considered disrespectful. Respect is extremely important, but having your own opinion is, too. I think it’s great that my son can have his own opinions here.”