Jalan Niroula, class valedictorian, is at the podium delivering his speech to the seated guests on stage, the 2017 graduates, teachers, counselors, family, and well-wishers. He talked about the importance of being optimistic at he and his classmates face the future. His speech included contrasts in his life in a refugee camp with his current life in Akron. He described how his life has improved since arriving in the United States (except for Trump) and that his future major in Computer Engineering at the University of Akron will position him, and his family, for the future.
At left Jalan Niroula and Diamond Lauderdale move their tassels to commemorate the completion of high school. Pictured on the right Jalon is flanked by his mother, grandfather, and aunt.
The Bhutanese/Nepali community was well-represented in the 2017 graduating class. The TOP TEN students, based on academic achievement, included eight members of the refugee population. Here are names of the Top Ten.
1 Jalan Niroula
2 Dhanapati Pokhrel
3 Krishna Chuwan
4 Bir Man Gomden
5 Moni Bhattarai
6 Pradip Rai
7 Amit Baniya
8 Ashok Tamang
9 Zoran Malinic
10 Shyann Anderson
Congratulations to all North High School graduates, and special commendation to these high achievers!
The Himalayan Music Academy sponsored a cultural event to promote and preserve Nepali traditional music, dance, and art. It was also an effort to expose the hidden talents and skills of the Nepali community's people so that they are encouraged and motivated to preserve Nepali culture. As are all events, this was also an opportunity to strengthen the relationship with local people, Nepali and non-Nepali alike.
The program was conducted in the Auditorium of North High School located at 985 Gorge Boulevard in Akron, Ohio.
During the two decades of life in reguee camps, p;rospective musians did not have opportunities to cultivate or to expose their hidden talents. This event showcased these talents through performances of voice, guitar, piano, bamboo flute, harmonium, and dance.
Don Walters, Mayor of Cuyahoga Falls, welcomed both the attendees and the Nepali musicians, expressing his appreciation for their talents and the opportunities that open for the newly settled immigrants. He noted that many have obtained citizenship after waiting for the probationary time period and passing the U. S. Citizenship Test. After speaking, his took his place in the audience and enjoyed watching the talented performers.
During the program, a new solo album by Puspa Gajmer was released. It is called "AAWAZ" meaning voice. The album includes 6 songs, all composed and sung by Mr. Gajmer.
Among the 43 outstanding high school seniors who received scholarships on April 27, 2017 were four from the Lhotshampa (Nepalese/Bhutanese) community in Akron. We are very proud of their scholastic achievement and wish them success in their future schooling.
Nar Subba -- after months of planning, remodeling, negotiating leases, procuring loans, getting building plans and approvals, construction, and licensing with the health department -- now has a greatly expanded grocery store. Jim Oberdorfer and Majnu Rastogi planned the Grand Opening and Jim was very helpful in organizing the store's expansion.
This opening was a celebration of an immigrant success story for a Bhutanese refugee family in Akron, the "Welcoming City." Many people stopped by to meet the Subba family, sample Bhutanese food, and check out the many products available from around the world.
In the offices of World Relief at 647 E Market Street in Akron, a special meeting was held to share Malone University’s opportunities for new Americans, former refugees, friends, clients, and neighbors. It is a welcoming community and Malone would like to offer more educational opportunities to international students from abroad and to students from refugee communities now living in the United States. It would like potential students to be aware of the advantages of attending a small liberal arts college and of the many scholarship possibilities and financial aid resources it has to offer.
Mark Seymour, Vice President for Enrollment Management and Financial Aid spoke to the gathering of people who have been active with Akron area refugee populations. Dr. Seymour said that Malone University President, David King, is interested in having refugee students attend Malone because their attendance would be underline the social justice underpinnings of Malone and enhance the diversity of student representation on the campus.
To that end, Malone is contemplating creating several scholarships for both domestic and international foreign-born students. There are many advantages for students who attend small, liberal arts colleges. Some of those include a faculty whose primary mission is to teach students rather than conduct research, a more intimate educational experience, and learning resources such as tutoring and writing assistance.
For many students Malone is more affordable than they think. Most qualifying domestic-based students can qualify for government aid such as the Ohio College Opportunity Grant, the Federal Pell Grant, a Federal Supplemental Educational Opportunity Grant, a Federal Direct Student Loan, a TEACH Grant, performing a Federal Work Study job, a Federal PLUS Loan for parents, or any of the Academic Scholarships for which students would apply and receive based on their academic achievement or special talents. For qualifying former refugees who want to commute to Malone and live at home, the university will work with them to arrange a financial aid package that can make Malone affordable, and possibly allow a student to attend using only financial assistance and not personal funds. For students that want to live on campus, the cost is higher and requires students to fund a part of their education with payments from themselves or their families. Malone can also assist with loan repayment after graduation depending on the students personal situation.
The group discussed ways in which Malone University’s message could be communicated to potential students and their parents. Some of the suggestions included meeting with groups of high school juniors at North High School, arranging visits of youth groups from local churches to the Canton campus.
In attendance were
[Top Row: L-R] Elizabeth Patterson Roe (Associate Professor of Social Work at Malone University), Karen Ulmer (Office Director at World Relief), and Susan Wuscher (Interim Director of Refugee Resettlement at the International Institute of Akron)
[Bottom Row: L-R] Dianette Gilbert (World Relief Intern), Samuel Biswa (Nepali Pastor and World Relief Case Worker), and Doug Wurtz (respected friend and long-term mentor of refugees).
[Not pictured] Terry Kuhn (mentor and adviser to Bhutanese Refugees) and Cindy Wurtz, (respected friend and long-term mentor of refugees).
Kyle Kutuchief, Akron Program Directior for the Knight Foundation, welcomes guests and introduces Joe Cartright.
Under auspices of the Knight Foundation, Joe Cartright delivered an analytical presentation and led a Q&A discussion on why the economies of US cities have prospered or languished over time. Speaking in the spacious Corbin Rotunda of the John S Knight Center in downtown Akron, Mr. Cartright shared his considerable knowledge of regional economics and development strategies.
He described several factors that have attracted smart, talented, and educated 25- to 34-year-olds with 4-year college degrees to cities. He illustrated his comments with easy-to-understand slides.
Factors that attract young, talented, educated residents include having neighborhoods that are close-in with mixed residential and businesses sections. These young residents tend to live in neighborhoods that are within 3 miles of the central business district (CBD) of economically vibrant cities. These neighborhoods tend to be walkable, integrated, and have lower levels of economic and racial segregation.
Mr. Cartright’s data showed that economic prosperity thrives where there are enclaves of talented, educated people.
These prosperous areas have also been open to immigrants.
Joe ended his presentation with a Question-and-Answer session in which a panel and audience members were encouraged to ask questions and share their ideas about how cities might be revitalized.
Jalan Niroula and his mother, Bishnu, pause for a photo before the Optimist Club luncheon at the New Era Restaurant in Akron.
Jalan Niroula reads his essay on the required topic of “Chasing Optimism in the Face of Challenges.” He described three obstacles that he has faced in his life. One was how his world view changed from when he was living in a refugee camp in Nepal to when he started living in the United States of America. A second obstacle was coping with his father’s mental disability which required him and his brothers to live in foster care. The third was learning a new language quickly. In dealing with these obstacles, he found optimism in his education and learning.
Jalan receives his first-place certificate from Richard L. Buchanan.
With more than 95,000 members in 3,200 clubs, Optimist International is one of the largest and most active community service organizations in North America. In addition to holding essay and oratorical contests for high school students, club members volunteer their free time to help complete environmental projects, tutor children, sponsor sports teams, help the elderly, and participate in substance abuse prevention programs.
Jalan’s essay will be forwarded for competition at the Optimist Club District level later in the spring of 2017.
Rachel Tecca, Principal of North High School, introduces the topic of how North High School’s curriculum will be organized to focus on college and career academies beginning in Fall 2017. All students will be provided with opportunities to pursue their interests and passions related to high demand careers in Northeast Ohio. This cooperative effort is sponsored by the Akron Public Schools, Ford Next Generation Learning, and Conxusneo.
The purpose of this dramatic reorganization is to increase student engagement, to make learning rigorous and relevant, and to help prepare all students for college and careers.
The Academy of Health & Human Services will offer options in biomedical sciences, allied Health, Early Childhood Education, and Healthcare Operations.
The Academy of Global Technology & Business will offer options in Marketing & Entrepreneurship, HVAC (Heating, Ventilation, and Air Conditioning), Information Support Services, and Programming & Software Development.
To make learning more relevant, student learning in the academies will be centered around a career theme of the student’s choice. All students will explore academy pathways as freshman.
Students will be learning in small groups.
Those who attended the meeting sat in language groups, and interpreters kept everyone informed throughout the session.
Dhanman Subba, President of the Bhutanese Community Association of Akron, attended the meeting.
Interpreters were busy throughout the meeting.
Fall 2017 promises to bring new and exciting changes to how North High School organizes and provides instruction for its students.
The newly-elected officers of the Bhutanese Community Association started meeting with significant constituencies early in their tenure. The purpose of these meetings was to introduce themselves, review the history of BCAA’s relationship with their organization, and to discuss how BCAA can work to further the purposes of both organizations.
The first of these meetings was held with Michael Byun and staff at Asian Services In Action (ASIA). Other scheduled meetings were with the International Institute of Akron (IIA), the Knight Foundation, the City of Akron, and the University of Akron. At the meeting with representatives from the University of Akron and the City of Akron Mayor’s Office, discussions began about the venue for the 2017 BCAA Annual Festival.
Pictured above in the Knight Foundation conference room are (left to right): Billa Angdembay (Trustee), Dil Rimal (Senior Adviser), Kyle Kutuchief (Akron Program Director of the Knight Foundation), Dhanman Subba (President), Rudra Rimal (Vice President), and Terry Kuhn (Statutory Agent).
From Left to Right: Dhanman Subba [President], Rudra Rimal [Vice President], Bishnu Rai [Chief BCAA Election Committee], Bhim Pokharel [Secretary], Billa Angembay [Trustee], Bishnu Kumar Subba [Past-President]; new officers not pictured include Prakash Neopaney [Treasurer], Dilli R Ghimirey [Assistant Treasurer], Bal B Gajmer [Trustee], Harka D Rai [Trustee], and Tek Gurung [Trustee].
In announcing the results of the 2016 BCAA Election, Chief Rai stated that special care was taken to conduct the entire election in a free, fair, transparent, and democratic manner. Voting and vote counting was conducted under the observation of three observers [Bob Radl, Doug Wurtz, and Terry Kuhn].
Election committee members who worked tirelessly and diligently included Arjun Taman, Bhim Dhungana, Bir B Tamang, Hem Rai, Phurba Tamang, Robit Sinchuri, and Sudhan Rai. Election volunteers included Damber, Kumari Rai, Govind Phuyel, Santosh Niraula, Prem Pokhrel, Mani Raj Gole, Gajal Subba, Sandsh Tamang, Aarati Parajuli, Kalpana Bhattarai, and Sisi Subba.
Contact information for the new officers can be found on the “Officers” page at www.bcakron.org
Selected activities of BCAA members are chronicled in this blog by Terry Kuhn.