Imagine living in a place where there is not sufficient food to eat, poor health care and no good educational resources for children. Fortunately, some of the educated people within the refugee community volunteered to teach the refugee children with the support of the UN and a few other NGOs. As refugees, my parents were not allowed to legally work outside the camps and they did not have a college education. The rations provided by the UNHCR were too limited to feed all of our family members, so my parents had to find other ways to support us. My mother is a middle school graduate; she was paid a small incentive for teaching the Nepali language to kindergarten children. My father worked at a bread factory. Both of my parents worked very hard to fulfill our basic needs.
My parents always wanted to go back to Bhutan, the country where they were born and raised. Even after living in the refugee camp for over 10 years, there was no sign of a solution to the refugee problem. They tried very hard to convince the government to return them to their home country, but it was all in vain. So at last, the government of the United States with the help of IOM (International Organization for Migration) helped resettle over 60,000 Bhutanese refugees to the US. My family was one of them. After a very difficult process, we finally arrived in the United Sates in 2008. When I arrived here, my heart was full of hopes and dreams. It was a big change for me to be in a new place, but it was a thousand fold better than life in the refugee camps in Nepal. I started attending school after a month of living here; it was different than what I had seen in Nepal. I also had difficulty communicating with my classmates and teachers. They could not understand me very well because I was not very proficient in English and my accent was thick.
As months passed by, my English got significantly better but I still struggled with my classes. I knew working hard was the only way out. As I started getting better in school and my grades improved, I also got involved with other extra-curricular activities. In high school, I was a member of Habitat for Humanity, FCCLA (Family, Career and Community Leaders of America), International Club, and R.S.I.E program . Being involved in these activities has changed my thinking ability. I was usually around people with different ethnicities while I was in high school and this has taught me a lot about other cultures and how to be open-minded towards people who are different from me. I’m currently a full time student at the University Of West Georgia and I can proudly say that I’m the first one to go to college in my family.
As far back as I can remember I have always wanted to be a leader and make my community better. Even at a young age, I was always helping people in whatever way possible. I had to grow up and learn responsibility at a very young age because I am the oldest child in my family. The responsibility has grown after coming to the United States as my parents have a very limited proficiency in English. Over the years I have tutored elementary school students, taught elderly immigrants to prepare them for their citizenship tests, and did an internship at the Dekalb Board of Health, Georgia. One of the achievements that I feel most proud of is creating a summer program for children in my community. It all started when a thought occurred to me- that I wanted to do something in the Nepali community where I can help children remember their culture and the place they came from.
With the support of a senior community leader, I coordinated and opened a summer school program along with my peers. On the first day no one came to the program, but I didn’t give up. With the help of my family and friends we told everyone about my idea and the program via emails, messages, calls, Facebook, posters, etc. On the second day, one child showed up. I knew that a drop of water would eventually make an ocean. Surprisingly, day by day more kids started coming and we ended up having 20 students.
It has been a difficult journey from life in the refugee camp in Nepal to being a college student in the United States, yet it was a great learning experience. Through the years I have found the value and meaning of life. I have learned how to accept problems and find a solution with a smile on my face. Now all I wish is to learn more every day and become a successful citizen of this great country that has given me and my family a place to live and start a new beginning with unlimited opportunities.