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Madeline Uraneck, author, and Tenzin Tamdin, “son” in the family, share reading and anecdotes from How to Make a Life: A Tibetan Refugee Family and the Midwestern Woman They Adopted

An immigration story of crossing cultural bridges and finding family.

When Madeline Uraneck said hello to the Tibetan woman cleaning her office cubicle, she never imagined the moment would change her life. After learning that Tenzin Kalsang had left her husband and four children behind in a Tibetan refugee settlement in India to try to forge a better life for them, Madeline took on the task of helping her apply for US visas. When the family reunited in their new Midwestern home, Madeline became swept up in their lives, from homework and soccer games to family dinners and shared holiday traditions. By reaching out, she found more than she bargained for--a family who welcomed her as their own and taught her more than she offered them.

An evocative blend of immersion journalism and memoir, How to Make a Life shares the immigration story of a Tibetan refugee family who crossed real and cultural bridges to make a life in Madison, Wisconsin, From tales of escaping Tibet over the Himalayas, to striking a balance between old traditions with new, to bridging divides one friendly gesture at a time, readers will expand their understanding of family, culture, and belonging. Now-grown family son Tenzin Tamdin and members of the Twin Cities Tibetan community relate how those days looked from their perspective.


Madeline Uraneck is an educator and writer who has visited 64 countries through her role as International Education Consultant for the Wisconsin Department of Public Instruction, several Peace Corps assignments, and her passion for world travel.  Her writing has appeared in K-12 curriculum material and educational handbooks on curriculum and policy.


Event date: 
Friday, November 16, 2018 - 7:00pm
Event address: 
38 S Snelling Ave
St Paul, MN 55105
How to Make a Life: A Tibetan Refugee Family and the Midwestern Woman They Adopted Cover Image
ISBN: 9780870208553
Availability: On Our Shelves Now
Published: Wisconsin Historical Society Press - April 25th, 2018