With 65 people in attendance in the Parish Hall of Blessed Trinity Church at 300 East Tallmadge Avenue in Akron, Ohio, the Bhutanese Community Association of Akron (BCAA) was called to order for a General Meeting. President Bishnu Subba, Secretary Prakash Misra, and Treasurer Tuk Rai conducted the meeting. Several trustees and advisors were in attendance and special guests included Dil Rimal, Bhakta Ghimire, and Terry Kuhn. The main topics discussed included a proposed cultural program, Nepali language classes, citizenship classes, and an office for BCAA.
Bishnu Subba said that the Bhutanese community in Akron is doing fine, but sometimes we go forward while other times we go backward. We all need to go together in order to save our culture, our tradition and our community. He said that:
(1) We have representatives from your area to collect money.
(2) The website has been changed, and we need your comments and suggestions about that.
(3) We are planning to start an online radio program, and we need your comments about whether or not we should start one.
(4) We have been missing some of the houses in our collections, so if you move be sure to give us your new address.
(5) (4) We are preparing for a cultural program in November. The cultural program is intended to save our culture and traditions for our future generations, and also we work all year to present this program. It will entertain our for one day, like a holiday or a day off.
Bishnu Subba said that people are looking forward to the Bhutanese Cultural Program in November, and "we want our people's support to make it successful." “It is important have cultural program like this once a year because at other times people are busy with their own work so on that day people will gather and spend some time with friends and family.” Another reason for the cultural program is that it sets a good example for upcoming years.
President Subba said that "...Nepal was not our motherland but also we had lived there in a society surrounded by the same culture, customs, and traditions, and we celebrated our festival with honor -- even though we were refugees. Now we're in AMERICA! and it's way different than where we used to be. But being in a different society doesn't mean we can't celebrate our festival and wear our traditional dress. This year, as always, we are going to celebrate our festival with our dances, musics, and food. This will only be possible if we work together as one. We're celebrating this festival to remember our culture and traditions, as well as to communicate with people in our community so we can stay in touch with each other. This festival will also entertain us , especially our elders, and also so our young brothers and sisters will know who we are and what we have."
A hand vote was taken asking if those present favored having a cultural program. A large majority of people raised their hands in support of the idea.
Citizenship class which is held by International Institute and BCAA used to be two classes per month, but from next month or so there will be four classes per month. And to make the class successful there is going to be money collection for needs like notebooks and other items. Citizenship classes are important because they will help us to become citizens and give us the right to vote. The classes are also a chance to reunite families, they are a way to protect your children's right to remain in the U. S., they are a protection in cases involving illegal activity. Citizenship also makes international travel easier. The instructors are Bhim Dhungana and Krishna Subba. Comments and suggestions are highly welcome.
Sponsoring an Office for BCAA
Taking the podium, President Subba said "We are planning on renting a home because in order to get our community financial help from the government, we will need our own office to show that we are not wasting money. So we would like all of you to donate $1 to $2 from one house per month for a year. We think after that we will have some money from government for rent and other stuff." He said "We need to collect $2-3 from each family once a month. Why? Because we're going to rent an office to run BCAA. An office will be helpful because when we have some problems we can go there and discuss about it." When asked why can't we get help from the government instead of collecting money from our people, he said "because no one will help us if we don't have an office to show them where we work." Another person said that it may be easier for some but it may also be hard for some to pay $2, so don't we have anyone who can pay $2 for us till one year? President Subba responded "Till now we haven't found anyone who can help, but perhaps if we find someone, they will address our need. The problem is that we don't have our own address.
Tuk Rai reviewed the financial transactions of BCAA. He said that BCAA spent $1,206.37 in support of soccer players. In the past, when money was donated and collected, the cash was given to the organizers of the games. Now the money collected is deposited in the BCAA FirstMerit bank account and a check is written to the person in charge of the team. This accounting method provides the record that the association is required to keep.
Report about International Institute Procedures
Amber Subba made several observations about how to get the most out of the assistance provided by the International Institute of Akron. He said that when you go to hospital with an interpreter, listen to what the doctors and nurses explain to you about your health. Remember what they tell you. If you have any doubt or questions, then ask them inside the room; because interpreters have the right to not explain things to you once you are outside the room.
Amber said that when you have an interview at Job and Family Services, you should not miss it, otherwise your
benefits can be cut off. You should inform your ELS teacher if you are unable to attend your class. And let them know the reasons and circumstances that prevent you from attending.
Bhim Dhungana said that your doctor always expects you to know your name, your address, and your phone number. Also the doctor is the one who determines whether you should get an interpreter or not; it does not depend on any other reason. It is also good to know your family doctor's name and phone number so if you are in a different state and you need to go to a hospital, you can start from where you left off. If you don';t know your doctor name and phone number you might need to start from the beginning.
Both Amber and Bhim said that if you get a call from a business or any company, do not say YES! or NO! without understanding what they are telling you. Never give your bank account numbers and any personal information like your birth date to someone who calls you. Anyone from a bank or credit company already knows that information. If you think it is important, say that "I need a Nepali Interpreter" otherwise just say "NO ENGLISH" then hang up.
This article was prepared by Dukula Katel, Champha Subba, Sajan Osti, and Terry Kuhn.
Selected activities of BCAA members are chronicled in this blog by Terry Kuhn.