Hi, everyone! Week 7 is done and all I can say is, “When did life start moving so fast?”
One of my projects is creating a quick sheet explaining all of the services Community Refugee & Immigration Services (CRIS) provides, so this week I’ve been meeting with someone from each department in CRIS. I’ve loved this job because I get to learn about all of the amazing work the 70+ employees do each day. Besides resettlement, CRIS has services for seniors to help them feel more included in the community, immigrant and refugee youth mentorship programs, legal services, assistance for victims of crime, and more.
In somewhat entertaining news, on Friday the power went out due to huge storms in the late morning. When the power goes out, so does the Internet, which is inconvenient because most of us use the Internet for our jobs. Some people stayed, but I went to the library to work.
On Saturday, I had the opportunity to meet with some Bhutanese Nepali high school girls at the Bhutanese Nepali Community of Columbus (BNCC). I loved talking with them because as I asked them questions about their culture, I saw the numerous similarities to the culture of the United States. Of course, they grew up in refugee camps in Nepal and had unique experiences there, but once they came to the United States, they adapted and added American values to the ones they already had. I asked the four girls what they wanted to do as careers. One said she wants to be a model, two said they want to be nurses, and the last girl was not sure yet. The girls have the same aspirations as any other teen in the United States, perhaps even working harder toward their dreams to make their journeys worth it.
If you are wondering why the refugee group is called Bhutanese Nepali when they speak or even used to live in Nepal, I can give you some background information. Side note: This background information is actually part of my job at CRIS, so check out crisohio.org in the coming weeks to see background information about other refugee groups in Columbus!
The Bhutanese Nepali people originally came from Nepal. Starting in the 1800s, the rulers in Bhutan invited farmers from Nepal to come live on unused land in Bhutan. Over the years, the group from Nepal kept speaking the Nepali language and taught it to their descendants growing up in Bhutan. In 1958, the government of Bhutan finally gave citizenship to the Nepali speaking population living in Bhutan with the Citizenship Act of 1958. Unfortunately, in the 1980s, a new group came into power in Bhutan and began ethnically cleansing the population, imprisoning and killing thousands of Nepali speaking Bhutanese. The rest of the Bhutanese Nepali people fled to Nepal or parts of India, such as West Bengal.
Sadly, most of the Bhutanese Nepali people have spent decades living in refugee camps in Nepal and West Bengal, unable to attain citizenship from the governments of those nations. Additionally, the refugees are unable to return home to Bhutan. Therefore, many of the Bhutanese Nepali population is seeking resettlement in a third country, such as the United States. Many of the children and even adults spent their lives in refugee camps. This is why there are about 20,000 Bhutanese Nepali living in Columbus.
A parting word – if you have a friend, schoolmate, coworker, etc. that is Bhutanese Nepali, you can say “namaste (nah-mah-stay)” to them and it means “hello” or “goodbye.”