AN OBSTACLE IS A STEPPING STONE

Shiva SapkotaSETTING GOAL IS FIRST STEP IN TURNING INVISIBLE INTO VISIBLES.” Now, Mr. shiva has become a visible outstanding student in the school as well in the community.

After my family was forced to flee Bhutan, they moved into a small refugee camp in eastern Nepal.  A year later in October 1992, I was born as the sixth child into the family.  I was named Shiva Sapkota.  To fully understand how difficult life is in a refugee camp, you would have to live there.  It was a very tough life for me and my family. Living in a hut made of bamboo and plastic is very miserable. It is hard when you have to go to school in your bare feet, and you have only a couple pair of stitched clothes to wear for many years.  It is very depressing to experience water leaking through your roof on every rainy day.  It is ever more and more discouraging when you live off of a couple kilograms of rice that the UNHCR provides you. In other words, living in a refugee camp is extremely difficult. I lived that life for 16 years.  During that time, I did not have access to any technology and lacked any real world experience outside of the refugee camp.

There appeared a sign of hope in my life when the International Organization for Migration (IOM) started the process of resettling the Bhutanese refugees to various countries, including the United States.  At a very early point in the process, when barely any people had applied, I became interested in resettlement. It was very hard for me to convince my parents to consider this, because they still thought that they could return one day to Bhutan. They still thought (and think until this day) that their house is still as it was in Bhutan, and that all their farm animals are right there where they left them.  However, after several days of deliberation, they agreed to the idea of resettlement. They started the process, went through all the necessary medical examinations, and prepared for the date of departure. They could not imagine what their lives would be like in the United States. The most challenging part was the language. None of them could speak English that was intelligible.  Anyway, they flew to the United States into an unknown future.

On their way to the U.S., they saw and experienced many things that were completely new to them.  They marveled at simple things like an escalator (“wow, you can go up the ramp without walking?”).   They arrived in their apartment prepared for them by the sponsor agency in Aurora Colorado. The apartment looked like an office to them which filled them with questions like “Can you get hot and cold water at the same time?” “How do we turn on that oven?”  “Wait, you can cook rice with by just plugging in the pot?”  So many unknowns for them, but the days to come were even more challenging. They did not know how to get to the grocery store.  They did not know how to use the public transportation.  And on top of all of that, no one could understand their language. What if they get lost?  The beginning was just very, very difficult.

In spite of all the challenges and difficulties in his life here in the United States, Shiva was admitted to Aurora Central High School. He was excited to go to the school, but he did not even consider how hard his life was going to be there.  In Nepal, right before a student enters a classroom; he or she is supposed to ask permission from the teacher.  On my first day of school, I stood outside of my English class, dressed very differently than the rest, and asked the teacher very quickly and with a thick accent, “May I come in, sir?”  Obviously, that is not something any student does here!  The teacher gave me a confused look and said, “suuuurrree.”   However, the students in the class could not cracking up.   I experienced the same thing in pretty much all of my classes that first day. However, I also met some teachers that understood my situation and were willing to help me to learn English.  I went home very discouraged and did not feel like I would go back to school ever again.

But I thought about my future and why I had come to the United States.  I then made a determination: no matter what happens, I will strive for academic success!  Day after day, I learned more and more English.  I met some amazing teachers that helped me to become successful at “inculturating” into the American way of living and thinking.   I would go around to a crowd of people and say, “Hi guys what’s up? My name is Shiva.”  I received very weird and crazy looks, but I never gave up.  I went to talk with my teachers every day after school.  I went to school very early in the morning so that I could spend some time in the library learning how to use the computers.  I started to become ever more acquainted and comfortable with the American culture. Yet I still had a long way to go to be comfortable in my school. There were still a lot of hurdles to overcome.

After being encouraged to do so by one of my teachers, I joined the Mock Trial program offered at Aurora Central.  I was scared to death but I still made the decision to participate in it. Mock Trial is a program where students get a fictional court case each year.  They break down the case and they present the case in front of real judges during a competition.  Among a small group of students, some have to portray a lawyer and others witnesses (like in a real court case). At first I was very hesitant.  How could I succeed at this?  I barely know any English, I have a very thick accent, and I have never seen an American court before, etc. But I knew that I would have to get out of my comfort zone to be successful. Time kept moving on as usual.  I worked so hard each day to memorize my statement and practice being in the court.  I had no clue as to what the competition was going to look like.  In fact, I was very, very scared!  In the first practice we had, I was able to impress my coach so much that he gave him another part in the case. Oh, my god!  I was scared of having one part in the case, and now I was being asked to take on two parts?  However, one thing was becoming clear:  I was doing very well.  That is why my coach gave me another part to portray. The day of the competition came.  I went in to the competition not knowing what to expect.  Believe it or not, I was very pleasantly surprised by all the good feedback that I received. What was even more surreal to me was the result of the competition.  I ranked as one of the top 7 students from all of Arapahoe County!  My team defeated a lot of other teams and now had the opportunity to compete at the state level.  I did my best in the state competition and received the award of being the Most Outstanding Witness, an award only 10 students can receive from the entire state of Colorado!

Motivated by my performance and by teacher, I decided to join the Speech team. Yes, people crack up every time they hear that I joined Speech because it seemed so ironic to see someone who does not speak English all that well now on the Speech team.   But I forged on anyway.  I did my best to keep improving my command of English and I started competing in Speech. Because of my hard work, motivation, drive, and a lot of support from my teachers, I was soon winning very prestigious awards in Speech.  I received awards such as Most Outstanding Public Forum Debater, Most Outstanding Congress, National Forensic League (NFL), Most Outstanding Speaker, Superior Speaker, etc.   I even became a finalist for the NFL Congress, an honor very few attain in the entire country!  I am very thankful for all my supporters, especially the teacher of my life, Ms. Monique Taylor.

I continued the same pattern of joining various programs.  I started getting involved in my local community a lot as well.  I learned how to fix computers and then started volunteering in the refugee community by fixing computers.  Since I had now learned English fairly well, I did a lot of translating in and for my Bhutanese community.  I filed Green card forms for them, helped them file their taxes, drove them to the hospital and interpreted for them.  I tutored them and prepared them for the Airport Badge test, translated for them when they took the written permit test at DMV, helped them to apply for government benefits, and just became an advocate for the Bhutanese Refugee community in and around Aurora.   I helped several families from Nepal to gain asylum through the University of Denver Asylum Clinic. Volunteering on the behalf of those in need around me became my passion.  I could not say no even if I received a call at 3 a.m. on a very snowy night from someone saying “I missed the bus, would you take me to my job?”  I do a lot just to help others and to see them smile.  This is for me a very fulfilling goal in my life.

During my high school years, I joined 8 different clubs offered at Aurora Central.  I became a member of the National Honor Society, the Ambassadors Club, Project Citizen and much more.  I became involved with Metro Organization of People (MOP), Colorado ASSET and other community organizations.  I testified on behalf of bills in front of the Colorado House of Representatives, and I volunteered for the Denver Mayoral Debate.  I won a lot of department awards from Aurora Central, such as Science, Language Arts, Business etc.  I earned more than 26 college credits by the time I graduated high school, and I completed more than 500 hours of community service.

My eyes and the eyes of my family, my teachers, and my friends all teared up when I was announced as the Most Outstanding Senior of the Class of 2012. I ranked 3rd out of 621 seniors from Aurora Central.  I applied to over 60 scholarships, and won over 40 of them. I myself could not believe that I won the most prestigious Gates Millennium Scholarship, the Daniels Fund Scholarship, and the Greenhouse Scholarship.  An unrelenting drive to excel and to succeed is what kept me going through thick and thin.  I attribute my success to my teachers, my elders, and all of my supporters who believed in me.  I am so very grateful for those who looked over my scholarship essays, gave me helpful and constructive feedback.

My name is Shiva Sapkota.  This is my story.   It is not my intention to bore you by writing about my accomplishments.  I am just trying to let others still struggling in the world and at school know that despite one’s background, you can still achieve almost anything you set your mind to.  I am currently attending the University of Colorado at Boulder, majoring in Mechanical Engineering and minoring in Computer Science. My goal is to go back to Nepal someday and help people over there with various technologies.  Having lived the life of “hell” for 16 years of my childhood and youth, I now understand the need for technology and education in that country. For right now, I am just trying to help other students to be successful.  I want everyone to strive for academic excellence.  I think anything is possible with enough drive, determination and hard work. I want to arouse this awareness especially among the refugee students, and help them to connect the dots, the dots of drive, determination and hard work which spell “success.”

If you are a student reading my story, please do not hesitate to contact me. I love helping people, and I want every student to win scholarships. Trust me, it feels very good when YOU get paid to go to college!   Scholarships are indeed very rewarding because they provide so may unexpected and wonderful opportunities, like the opportunity to meet Bill Gates, the founder of Microsoft.  I am not an expert in scholarships and college resources, but I now have gained a lot of experience about them.  Please contact me if you need help applying to colleges or for scholarships, or just anything in general. Thanks for your time, I wish you the very best.

OBCA’s 4th convention in Colorado

      Organization of Bhutanese Communities in America(OBCA) has organized fourth convention in colorado from 14th  to 16th of June. According to the President the organization Mr. D.J Khaling, the convention is organised to strengthen the organization and bring the genuine issues related to Bhutanese into discussion.The main agenda of the convention are; suicidal cases in Bhutanese community,   NRB, and the election of board members of OBCA.

Most of the members of OBCA executive board,  secretaries and executive members are expected to be in the convention. 

    Meanwhile, Bhutanese Community of Colorado(GBCC) and OBCA are collaboratively  going to observe  THE WORLD REFUGEE DAY  with cultural performances. A person or an organization is going to be honored by OBCA with $500 cash  for the social commitments and deeds. For the detail of the programme visit  http://braintimes.wordpress.com/information/.

     Bhutanese dancers will also perform at the event. These performances will showcase diverse cultural art that our community has gained through refugee resettlement.Millions of families have lost their homes to violence and war. World Refugee Day is dedicated to raising awareness about the human right to secure a place that someone calls home.World Refugee Day honors the strength, courage, determination of women, men and children who are forced to flee their homeland.

Bhutanese Community of Columbus celebrates Nepali New Year 2070

Bhutanese Community of Columbus celebrates the Nepali New Year 2070 B.S. A function is organized today  at Columbus Global Academy school.  About 500 resettled Bhutanese refugees and some government and non-government representatives witnessed the program. The function was marked by exchanging good wishines, cultural shows and some typical Nepali traditional performances.

Program was organized under the chairmanship of Narayan Sharma while Ganesh Ghimire was coordinating the function.

New Year is the time at which a new calendar Bikram Sambat begins in Nepal. Bikram Sambat (B.S.) is 56.7 years older than the Georgian Calendar.

The Vikrama Samvat is said to have been founded by the emperor Vikramaditya of Ujjain following his victory over the Sakas in 56 B.C.  It is a lunar calendar based on ancient Hindu tradition. 

The traditional New Year of Bikram Samwat is one of the many festivals of Nepal, marked by parties, family gatherings, the exchange of good wishes, and participation in rituals to ensure good fortune in the coming year.

Kerry wishes Nepal and Nepali New Year 2070

US Secretary of State John Kerry

US Secretary  of State John Kerry

US Secretary of State John Kerry has extended greetings to Nepal and Nepali for the new year 2070 BS.

“On behalf of President Obama and the American people, I offer the people of Nepal my warmest wishes for a joyful New Year”, he said.

He added, “this is an opportunity to celebrate national unity and goodwill in Nepal, and for people of Nepali heritage around the   world to reflect on new beginnings and possibilities,”

Kerry  hopes that the coming year will see successful elections and completion of a new constitution in Nepal.

“We look forward to continuing our strong friendship with the Nepali people in the New Year,” he said.

Source: Online media

Mr. Y.N Chaulagai’s “Sakchhi”

  • Mr. Y.N Chaulagai

    Mr.Y.N Chaulagai Originally from Bhutan who has been residing in Damak, Jhapa Nepal since he was evicted from the country of origin, has presented his feeling of strong hatred of tyranny . He could not forget his birth place “Bhutan” and remembers through his book named “Sakchhi”. The first few paragraphs of the book are here;                               “साछी” पुस्तक को परिचय

  •  “In what circumstances does a human being become a “Refugee”? What is the true meaning of the word “Refugee”? Under what dire conditions are people ready to leave, in a minutes notice and under duress, the house they were born in; the land their ancestors had spilled their sweats and blood in; their dear motherland; and all their earthly possessions? An investigative report to these very questions is the book “Sakchhi” (“Witness”).
  •  During 1989/90 (Nepali calendar 2047/48), an invisible political earthquake encapsulated Bhutan resulting in thousands of martyrs and hundreds of thousands of refugees. The powerful ruling class tried to eliminate its own population with torture and every other suppression techniques at its disposal. As a result of these political and social tornadoes, innocent Bhutanese citizens, fearing for their lives, sought shelter and security in nearby Nepal. Those very people are Bhutanese refugees.

     Atrocities committed on those refugees, during this period of turmoil, have been depicted in the book. “Sakchhi”, thus, is a story attempting to accurately portray the heinous crimes committed by the Bhutanese government and its henchmen on an innocent people.”

  •  

BRAIN Conducts Cultural Orientation in Colorado

Bhutanese Refugee Association of Intellectual Nova(BRAIN) conducted three(3) hours long Nepali Cultural Orientation to the fifteen American Citizens on 3rd February, 2013.

The programme was fascinated by a typical Nepali cultural dance by school students.According to one of the attendee Mr. Brain Faulkner ,the most interesting part of the programm was the Nepali Food items which was never seen and tested before.

The programme was facilitated by the Chairperson of the organization Mr. Bashu  Khanal, who was resettled in colorado from Beldangi Camp in Nepal on 21st may 2012.

Most of them promised to work with Bhutanese Community in the days to come and help in the way possible as per their capabilities.

The attendees were from different professional backgrounds such as teachers , Engineers, Dentists and so on.

 

Bhutanese American Diaspora Celebrates Teej.

GROUP OF BHUTANESE WOMEN CELEBRATING TEEJ IN COLORADO

The three-day festival, commemorating the union of the Goddess Parvati and Lord Shiva, involves sumptuous feasts and rigid fasting. Hindu women pray for marital bliss, the well-being of their spouses and children, and the purification of their own bodies and souls during this period of religious fasting.  The Hindus marks this festival all over the world.

The Global Bhutanese Community of Colorado(GBCC) observed the Haritalika Teej today in Lowry Hospital Complex in an open ground amidst a grand cultural performan ces .
According to the organizer, the program was attended by more than 300 people.
Meanwhile, Mrs. Krishna Maya Chapagain an elderly lady, 103 years was honored by the Organization .The American spectators who were fascinated in red saries danced and enjoyed to the rhythm of teej songs played, which was another attraction of the programme.

One of the board members Ms Gaynu Koirala highlighted on the importance of the cultural and tradition aspect of teej celebration with a view to inform and keep the children and youths in contact with the culture.
Chairman of GBCC Mr. Hari Uprety also congratulated the programme Committee for their accomplishment of the programme so successfully and for being so systematic.
Meanwhile, other founder members and well-wishers were remembered and thanked for their tremendous contribution in bringing the organization to the present stage and sought help to attain the status of Charity based Organization.

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