Akron Symphony Orchestra
Druk Fusion Band
Threatening skies gave way to a warm and somewhat humid evening at the Firestone Metro Park on Sunday evening of July 24, 2016. Several hundred people brought lawn chairs to sit in front of a large, portable stage for a concert by the Akron Symphony Orchestra (ASO). What made this concert special for Bhutanese Community Association of Akron (BCAA) members was that Puspa Gajmer and the Druk Fusion Band performed Ukali Orali Haruma, a traditional Nepali song arranged by Nati Kaji and Roger Zahab. It was an auspicious moment for musicians in the Akron refugee artistic community.
Many people brought chairs and blankets to enjoy an evening of light classical music of such pieces as Bernstein's Candide Overture, Bugler's Holiday by Leroy Anderson, the Andante and Hungarian Rondo by Weber (performed superbly by violist Aaron Mossburg), Espana by Chabrier, Dance of the Buffoons by Rimsky-Korsakov, and Procession of the Sardar by Ippolitov-Ivanov. Music excited ears and minds throughout a relaxing evening.
Puspa Gajmer and Christopher Wilkins began planning at the Nepali Kitchen months before the concert (see above).
On behalf of its members, BCAA would like to thank the City of Akron for sponsoring these concerts, Kyle Kutuchief of the Knight Foundation for suggesting such a cultural collaboration, Christopher Williams for bringing together the musical talents to make it happen, and Roger Zahab for attending rehearsals by the Druk Fusion Band and writing the orchestral arrangement.
The Peace Zone Sporting Club of the Bhutanese Community Association of Akron sponsored an interstate cricket match on June 19, 20, and 21, 2016. Twelve teams from Georgia, Kentucky, Ohio, Minnesota, Michigan, New Hampshire, New York, Pennsylvania, South Dakota, Tennessee, and Vermont made the trek to the Akron Goodyear Metroparks fields to participate.
The Peace Zone Sporting Club has been instrumental in providing healthful developmental activities for the youth of the Bhutanese community in Akron. Billa Angdmbay was a founding officer of Akron's Peace Zone Sporting Club as well as an original sponsor of interstate tournaments of Bhutanese interstate sporting events. Billa is pictured top row, center with Dawa Tamang, current Manager of PZSC on the left, and Bhakta Biswa, current Assistant Coordinator of PZSC.
What goes on in the BCAA office? Some of the meetings that took place on May 14, 2016 are describe in this blog page. Below, Khadga Baniya teaches a citizenship class as Bhakta Ghimire, who is also a citizenship class teacher, looks on. On the right are some of the citizenship class learners.
While the citizenship class was meeting in the front room of the office, In the back room President Bishnu Subba and Adviser Dil Rimal meet with Ming-Hao Shiao from the International Institute of Akron to talk about ways in which BCAA and IIA might work together to help refugees resettling in the Akron area. Bhakta Ghimire joined the meeting and Dhan Rimal were in attendance as was Terry Kuhn (taking the pictures, behind the camera).
As a follow-up to this meeting, Ming sent an email suggesting potential collaboration for offering citizenship education and classes, possible classroom space at IIA. She also suggested how BCAA could obtain USCIS education materials, naturalization forms, and information on citizenship through exceptions and accommodations. Ming was very gracious and BCAA looks forward to working with her in the future.
Following the citizenship class and the meeting with Ming-Hao, the officers gathered to talk with members of the Peace Zone Sporting Club (PZSC) about the upcoming cricket and soccer matches in June and July. PZSC was seeking a support letter which would help with their fund-raising efforts. Dr. Kuhn offered to help them draft such a letter to Bharat Bista on behalf of BCAA.
This was another busy day in the life of the BCAA office. Contact your officers if you have suggestions for the association.
Because of recent concerns about increased suicide rates and instances of other mental health problems in the greater Bhutanese community, BCAA sponsored training in mental health first aid at the Patterson Park Community Center on May 7, 2016. This training gave participants an overview of common mental health problems, introduced them to a mental health action plan, and gave them ideas on how to be proactive in preventing crises and how to react to a person who is in crisis.
Two experienced teachers, Ashok Gurung and Sona Shilpakar, came to the Patterson Park Community Center in Akron, Ohio to present a day-long course for 30 participants. BCAA provided a lunch catered by the Nepali Kitchen.
After participates completed a Pre-Course Questionnaire about their previous knowledge of, and experience with, mental health diseases they experienced a variety of lectures, exercises, and readings. They learned that
* an estimated that 1 in 5 of Americans will have a diagnosable mental health problem in any given year
* a mental health first aid action plan is needed
* it is important to understand depression and anxiety
* anxiety, depression, substance use, bipolar, eating, and schizophrenia are the more common forms of mental disorder
* some of the terms used to describe mental health problems include mental disorder, emotional disorder, emotional distress, psychiatric illness, mental illness, nervous exhaustion, mental breakdown, nervous breakdown, and burnout.
It was interesting to learn from the following chart that mental illness affects more people than other, more recognized, diseases in North America.
In one exercise, participants were given a card with the name of a mental illness and then asked to arrange themselves in the order of severity of the disease on their card. It was a good way to learn this material.
Participants appreciated the opportunity to learn about mental illnesses and how to identify situations in which they might be able to provide assistance.
BCAA has been offering citizenship classes for several years. These classes have been offered without external funding because volunteers from within the Bhutanese/Nepalese community have been willing to serve as teachers without pay. Through such efforts the BCAA is trying to increase the number of its people achieving citizenship in the USA.
Refugees, including those from Bhutan/Nepal, must wait for five years before they can attempt the citizenship test. All those taking the test must prepare able to answer 100 questions on civics, although only about 10 questions will be asked. Respondents must answer 6 of the 10 questions correctly to pass the test. Civics questions cover principles of American democracy, the system of government, and rights and responsibilities of citizens.
Pictured below is Dhan Rimal working with a group of Bhutanese/Nepalese refugees in the BCAA office on August 11, 2015.
Everyone has a good feeling and a sense of elation and happiness when they pass the exam and get their Certificate of Naturalization. Below Nirmala and Kailash Ghimirey have just passed the test, and they are smiling proudly as new US Citizens.
Many BCAA members go to the Anthony J. Celebrezze Federal Building on East 9th street in Cleveland to have their biometrics recorded and to take the US citizenship test (see photo above right).
Social Mega Event
Sunday, January 17, 2016
10:00 am until 4:00 pm
North High School Auditorium
Akron Buddhist Society
Akron Hindu Sewa Sammittee
Gurung Society of Akron
Kirat Cultural Society of Ohio
Magar Society of Ohio
Movie: Rato Ghar (Red House) (U. S. Premier)
Organized and Sponsored by
Bhutanese Community Association of Akron, Inc.
Saturday, January 16, 2016: 10:00 am until 2:00 pm
Patterson Park Community Center
Facilitator and Movie Director: Suraj Subba Nalbo
Nationally-awarded film maker from Nepali movie industry
Since 25 January 1970, Suraj Subba Nalbo has emerged as a significant person in the world of filmmaking. Starting with the movie, Angsha Banda in 1996, he created history by getting six National Awards from the Nepal Film Development Board.
He has received -- at last count -- twenty-one awards for his work as a screen writer. He also has awards for Best Jury Director, Best Script Writer, Best Director, and Best Movie.
He owns the production house named "Mang Heem Films, PVT.LTD" and he writes for the teleserials like Nalekheyeko Saino for Nepal Television, Gharpariwar for Nepal Television, and Nari for Kantipur Television.
BCAA was honored to have him in our presence in Akron, Ohio, USA. He is here through the sponsorship of the Bhutanese Community Association of Akron, which presented him with an Honorific Acclimation Award, in acknowledgement of his outstanding career, long list of credits, and for working with our youth.
The pictures below were taken throughout Director Nalbo's two-day presence in Akron. For those of you who were not able to attend, you can share in the joy of the moment through these pictures. For those of you who were there, may they bring fond memories of the events.
Article by Mahananda Luitel
The greater Akron Hindu Sewa Samittee (AHSS) organized Durga Puja on Saturday, Oct. 17, 2015 at 750 Tallmadge Rd, Cuyahoga Falls, Ohio. A large crowd of around five hundred people – men and women, old and young, white Americans and people from other religious and cultural backgrounds took part enthusiastically in the function throughout the day. Recitation of Chandi, Holy Scriptures by priests, performing rituals, singing hymns, and dancing were some of the distinctive aspects of the program.
Although the tradition of celebrating Durga Puja is very common among Hindu communities worldwide, the nature of celebration differs from region to region and nation to nation. Every year this festival falls during the lunar months of Asoj or Kartik (September- October). Generally Hindus observe ten days of ceremonies, rituals, fasts and feasts in honor of the supreme mother Goddess, Durga. It begins with the fast of Nava Ratri (nine nights) and ends with the festivities of “Dusshera” or Vijaya Dashami – the triumph of good over the evil -- on the tenth Day. This event marks the defeat and death of the demon king Ravana by Lord Rama in the epic, “Ramayana.”
Vijaya Dashami has social, cultural and religious importance in Hindu communities. In every family, children and grandchildren seek blessings from their parents and grandparents. Even distant relatives visit their close ones during this time. As a tradition and culture, people enjoy playing on swings, getting dressed up in cultural clothing, and eating delicious foods to mark the importance of the day.
Durga Puja, the ceremonial worship of the mother goddess, is one of the most important festivals of India. In addition to being a religious festival for Hindus, it is also an occasion for reunion and rejuvenation, and a celebration of traditional culture and customs. Puja are expressions of honor, worship, and devotion. The Durga Puja rituals include ten days of fast, feast and worship. The last four days are celebrated with much gaiety and grandeur.
The greater Akron Hindu Sewa Samittee (AHSS) is a sister organization of the Bhutanese Community Association of Akron (BCAA). The BCAA is a tax-exempt, not-for-profit organization under Section 501 (c) (3) of the Internal Revenue Code. Its purpose is to facilitate and promote the smooth transition and integration of the people of Bhutanese origin into the general population of the United States of America.
Contributors to this article: Amit Baniya, Nilam Ghimirey, Mangali Maya Gold, Terry Kuhn, Ganga Devi Shama, and Phul Rai
Speakers, dancers, musicians, young, old, and middle-aged people were pleased with the highly successful Multicultural Program: Bringing People Together sponsored by BCAA. The program took place at the Emidio & Sons Banquet Center located at 48 East Bath Road in Cuyahoga Falls, Ohio on August 22, 2015. The association brought together people from different cultures to learn about each other's customs, beliefs, and ways of living and knowing. Since coming to the United States of America, Bhutanese refugees have learned a lot about life in the United States. Some have earned their U. S. citizenship. And many others are studying in classes so they can pass the citizenship class. This event was an opportunity to meet new people, to visit with friends, and to have fun!
-- Kyle Kutuchief, Akron Program Director of the Knight Foundation;
-- Esteban Nieto, Complex HR Manager from Case Farms;
-- Michael Byun, Executive Director at Asian Services in Action;
-- Jeff Fusco, Mayor of Akron; and
-- Don Walters, Mayor of Cuyahoga Falls.
Goran Debelnogich from the Administration for Children and Families at the U. S. Health & Human Services Department in Washington, D. C. attended with his family as did Sandra Hollingsworth, Ohio's Refugee Health Coordinator; May Chen, founder of ASIA, Inc.; and Elina Shakiya, MD.
Participating organizations included:
- Akron City Police, Captain Sylvia Trundle, Assistant Chief Charles Brown
- Akron City Council, Jim Hurley, John Valle
- Cuyahoga Falls City Police, Captain Steve Guldeman
- Cuyahoga Falls City Police, John Sim and Todd Shafer [security]
- Greater Akron Hindu Sewa Samittee, Sha B Neopaney
- Kent State University, Madhav Bhatta
- Kirat Society of Akron
- Magar Society of Akron
- Summa Health System
- Summit County Clerk of Courts, Dan Horrigan
- Summit County Public Health Department (Eric Hutzell, and Leak Turner)
- University of Akron, John Alvarez Turner, Rosa Muthoni Githiora
Several vendors interacted with those attending the program:
- Billa Angdembay, Mobile Service Center
- Udaya Dhimal, Keller Williams Chervenic Realty
- Edwin Hahn, Chase Bank
- Russ Iona, American Mortgage Service Company
- Liz Kuhn, Woven In Exile
- Lesa Lillibridge and Bhakta Rizal, Keller Williams Chervenic Realty
- Peace Zone Sporting Club
- Francisco (Franc) Quezada, Village Discount Outlet
- Manju Rastogi, DAWN: Developing Alternatives for Women in New communities
- Kimberly Rounds, Chapel Hill Chase Bank
- Doug Wurtz, Time Warner Cable
The following pictures show elements of the Multicultural Program: Bringing People Together.
The security officers from the Cuyahoga Falls police force said they had an enjoyable day.
One vendor said that the "Bhutanese people are being successful in obtaining home loans, and they pay monthly without delay. They have been good homeowners and responsible citizens." This was an opportunity to renew friendships and visit.
Kyle Kutuchief said that the Knight Foundation is interested in helping the Bhutanese refugees because they are great for the North Hill area of Akron because they are renting and buying houses, starting businesses, and making North Hill a better place to live." Don Walters, Mayor of Cuyahoga Falls, said that Bhutanese refugees are affecting his city in a good way by filling homes with families." He also said "I learned about the history of the Nepalese-Bhutanese refugee people, where they came from, and I am very proud and welcome everyone here to the Cuyahoga Falls community."
Esteban Nieto said that about 30% of Case Farm's employees in its Winesburg facility are Bhutanese/Nepalese.
The following flier was used to publicize the program.
A lot of people were brought together ... they emjoyed themselved ... and the BCAA officers were tired and needed some rest and family time ....
M. L. Schultze, who is the digital editor and an award-winning reporter and analyst at WKSU-FM (89.7 on the FM dial) has produced a series of radio spots about Bhutanese/Neapese refugees living in the Akron area. These programs aired on WKSU and they are still available as MP3 files on the www.wksu.org website.
Following are links to each of the six five-minute programs, with a list of the people interviewed in each story.
Festivals, fishing, and the world's game of football
Ash Maya Subba
Bhakta Ghimirey *Sangan internet radio
Law, order and building trust
Captain Sylvia Trundle
Officer Kevin Evans
Learning language, culture and more
Principal Rachel Tecca
Teacher Catherine Hughes
Bhutanese resettlement has had a big economic impact
Antoine Wilson, job orientation for International Institute of Akron
Elaine Woloshyn, International Institute of Akron, Executive Director
Scott Bailey, baker
North Hill, its history and its newest settlers
Carl Wallace, pastor
How thousands of people arrived in Akron from half a world away
Lai and Indrawoti Rai
Madhu Sharma, immigration attorney with IIA
Mary Raitano, IIA resettlement director
WKSU broadcasts at 89.7 MHz throughout NE Ohio and is affiliated with National Public Radio (NPR), Public Radio International (PRI), and Kent State University.