It was a day of celebration of religious, family, friends, and a chance to do something different. What was that? The BCAA Bhutanese Festival of 2012, held on November 4 at the Italian Center on Tallmadge Avenue in Akron, Ohio. Between 500 and 600 people attended the event and enjoyed entertainment, speeches, and food. There were so many people that meals had to be taken to people as they sat at their chairs. It was a wonderful, festive event that showed off the many talents of Bhutanese refugees, from very young to those who were less young.
This was an auspicious occasion for the Bhutanese-Nepali community of greater Akron, and traditional dances and songs were punctuated with original compositions and performances by local artists.
A highlight of the day was the welcome from Daphne Kwok, Chair of the White House Initiative on Asian American Pacific Islanders. It was impressive to be noticed by a member of President Obama's White House. In her welcome she thanked everyone and pointed out how they were sharing and celebrating their traditional culture as well as assimilating the culture of the United States. Bhim Dhungana is telling her that it was an honor to have her attend our festival.
Goran Debelnogich, Senior Analyst at the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services in the Office of Refugee Resettlement, was a former employee of the International Institute of Akron, and has been a personal friend of many Bhutanese refugees. Mr. Debelnogich spoke about several current issues and initiatives happening at the federal level. He ended with comments about the home-based childcare program that will help support and train women who stay at home to care for children. He also said that in 2014 the Affordable Care Act will cover all refugees' medical care. His office is also working for easier recetification for refugees with professional skills. He told those in attendance that the BCAA is a true bridge to life in the United States. Bhim Dhungana served as interpreter for all the English speakers.
Pictures on this page were taken by Natalya (Natasha) Mytareva, Terry Kuhn, and Nirmala (Nilam) Ghimirey.
Selected activities of BCAA members are chronicled in this blog by Terry Kuhn.