In November of 2017 the Trustees of the John S. and James L. Knight Foundation awarded a $15,000 challenge grant to the Himalayan Music Academy to produce a North Hill Music Festival to celebrate Akron's immigrant communities. As a challenge grant the HMA is expected to raise funds which the Knight Foundation will then match.
The North Hill Music Festival is organized to promote and preserve Nepali/Bhutanese traditional art, music, and dance; to expose the hidden talents and skills of the community's people, and to encourage, motivate, and preserve the arts and culture of the Nepali/Bhutanese people. The Festival will also strengthen relationships among Nepali and non-Nepali people and among the several immigrant populations in the Akron area. While promoting and preserving the music, art, and dance of immigrant populations, the Festival will also expose and guide youngsters to the value of traditional music, so that it can be carried to the next generations.
The frustrations experienced by Bhutanese artists who were confined in refugee camps for two decades of their lives should be mentioned. During this time from around 1991 through 2009 prospective musicians did not have opportunities to learn the physical skills to perform, nor did they have access to the instruments and equipment needed to practice their art. They had no opportunity to expose their hidden talents, even though they had the passion and could have developed the professionalism needed to be major contributors to their communities' cultural fabric.
Below, left is Puspa Gajmer, maestro and entrepreneur, who founded the Himalayan Music Academy and who has been the impetus for today's event. The van in the parking lot proudly shows the Himalayan Music Academy logo and name.
The following pictures show performers and audience members who came to contribute to the celebratory activities of this fund-raiser.
After having resettled in the United States just ten years ago, Damber Subba was sworn in as a new policeman in Akron, Ohio on May 4, 2018. He is the first member of the Akron Bhutanese/Nepalese community to achieve such an appointment. Being a policeman fits in with his long-term desire to help his community.
In order to be appointed as an Akron policeman, Mr. Subba had to complete a several months-long training program that began with a written examination, a test of his physical abilities, a drug test, a standard background check, and an interview with the police chief. As one of the twelve new recruits he attended 20 weeks of training at a police academy at Kent State University where he learned about laws and police procedures through academic study and real-life simulation activities.
As a former resident of Bhutan, Damber spent many years of his life in the Beldangi II refugee camp in Nepal after the Bhutan government conducted an ethnic cleansing of Lhotshampas who were living in southern Bhutan. After resettling in the United States, Damber served as an interpreter for Akron Children's Hospital, worked in a foundry, and took courses in nursing at Kent State University. While attending Kent State University, he was a recipient of the Kuhn Scholarship for Bhutanese Refugees.
Damber Subba is proud to be a member of the Akron Bhutanese/Nepalese community, and the Bhutanese/Nepalese community is proud of him and his achievements.
The Himalayan Music Academy sponsored a seminar on traffic laws and driving under the influence of alcohol or drugs. The seminar was held at the North Hill branch of the Akron Public Library (183 East Cuyahoga Falls Avenue in Akron, Ohio).
Panalists included (left to right)
Alexandra Hull, Law Attorney
Farad Sethna, Immigration Lawyer
Kim Hoover, Judge
Mathew Browarek, Law Attorney
Panelists: left to right
Lloyd E. Ford, Akron Police Officer
Edd Wright, Law Attorney
John Clark, Magistrate
Picture 1: Shirley Simon, a law attorney, conducted the meeting.
Picture 2: April Paw served as interpreter for the Karen community.
Picture 3: An audience member asked several questions.
Picture 4: Dr. Terry Kuhn made some concluding remarks as April Paw summarized his comments; and he welcomed the resettled residents to the United States.
Picture 5: A small group posed for a quick "grip and grin" photo.
Summary of Advice Given at Seminar
Some crimes can get you deported under immigration law.
Assault, domestic violence
Multiple violations can trigger a review of your record
What may have been permissible in your previous country may not be legal in the US
In the US it is never permissible to drink and drive
In the US it is never permissible to fight, even with family members
In the US it is never permissible to carry a gun unless you have a license
In the US policemen want to help you. If you are stopped by a policeman
Be polite, stay calm, do not raise voice or shout.
Do exactly what the policeman tells you to do.
Treat the policeman with respect. The officer has discretion and might end up testifying in court if you go to trial. You want him/her on your side and supportive of you.
If you need to go to court, you will need a lawyer. The court might provide one for you.
If you need a lawyer, ask your friends if they know a good one.
Unless your English is very good, you need an interpreter.
If you have been the victim of a crime, check with a lawyer to see if you are eligible to apply for a T Visa or a U Visa.
Be sure your car is in good working order because police have right to top you if you don't
Wear seat belt, have working turn signals, headlights, taillights, turn signals
Even a crack in your windshield could be cause to stop you
Do not drink alcohol, do drugs and drive
DUI You cannot be released on bond if you have some other violation; if stopped for bad headlight and you have dui on record you cannot be released on bond.
You must have driver's license, proof of insurance, car in good working order, not outstanding tickets, show up for court if you get ticket (bring English-speaking friend).
Learn US rules
You need CCW (concealed carry weapon) license to have gun in your possession
You cannot drink and drive
You cannot fight and hit your family members
Small children must have appropriate car seat, properly installed
You need a safety plan for children if an adult will not be with them
An OVI is in the felony (serious) category (Operating Vehicle under the Influence of alcohol)
Can mean mandatory prison time and/or deportation
You cannot lend your car to someone who is unqualified to drive
Seriousness of crimes: aggravated murder, felony, misdemeanor, minor misdemeanor.
The US Immigration Department will decide where you will go if you are deported. It is unclear where Bhutanese refugees would go: Nepal? Bhutan? Other?
Panelists posed with members of the audience for a post-seminar group picture.
Selected BCAA activities are chronicled in this blog.