How to Make A Life

How to Make A Life

A Tibetan Refugee Family and the Midwestern Woman They Adopted

Book - 2018
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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, with the assistance of the Midwestern woman they befriended. 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.

Book News
Author Madeline Uraneck is a consultant in international education for the state of Wisconsin. In this memoir, she writes of her long friendship with one family of Tibetan refugees from India. She details their family history, their experiences in India, and how they finally landed in Madison, Wisconsin. As they invite her into their home and their lives, Uraneck learns lessons of friendship, human rights, intercultural communication, and acceptance. She also reflects on what the young people in the family have taught her about the flaws in educational policies that she helped enact. B&w photos are included. Annotation ©2018 Ringgold, Inc., Portland, OR (

Publisher: Madison, WI : Wisconsin Historical Society Press, [2018]
ISBN: 9780870208553
Branch Call Number: 305.895 URANE
Characteristics: xi, 242 pages : illustrations ; 22 cm


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