For the past five years I have been assisting ethnic Nepali/ Bhutanese refugees resettling in Rhode Island. Last week I received a Community Partner Award from Dorcas International Institute of Rhode Island, and received a citation from Governor Chafee for my efforts.
In reality no award or recognition was necessary. What I and my children have gained from this experience is immeasurable and I have been rewarded every day through friendship, cultural exchange and a greater appreciation for my own life and circumstances.
Far too many of us take our gifts for granted — a stable and healthy family; freedom to express ourselves; access to education and a bedrock of democracy in our communities. For a refugee, none of these things are a given. What makes me appreciate the opportunities that I often take for granted, is to witness the zeal and ambition with which my new friends dive into their new lives. In five short years a community has grown from 8 to over 200. They have learned English, enrolled in college, accepted whatever job they can find, paid taxes, bought cars and are ready to purchase their first homes. We must not forget that we all are immigrants in this country and this in fact is what makes our communities strong.