A Refugee with Big Dreams

 

Nabin waving a small flag at the PSU Nepaslese Student Association festival

What does it mean to be a refugee? What does it mean to be thrown out of your own country? Growing up in a refugee camp without any identity and sense of belonging, I realized at a very young age my world was different than others. Not having our essential needs met, such as clean water, adequate food and warm clothes for winter, was unimaginably challenging. My difficulty was coping with the obstacles and being forced to live an inhumane life. I only recall the look of despair in the eyes of the people, and the desperation for a better future. Everything reminded me of the privation I couldn’t escape.

My parents and hundreds of thousands of Nepali speaking Bhutanese were kicked out of Bhutan after the “One Bhutan, One People” policy was enforced by the King. When Nepali Bhutanese resisted the policy, the government responded cruelly by imprisoning, raping, torturing my people and burning houses to the ground. Eventually, we were kicked out of the country. My parents had to walk hundreds of miles through jungle to escape. My family and I ended up in Jhapa, Nepal in a refugee camp.

Even though I was born in Nepal, I didn’t belong because my parents were from Bhutan. We were not only discriminated against, but also racially oppressed and verbally abused as if we were outsiders. In order to be accepted into society, to get a job or even to ask for a small favor, we had to conceal our true identity and say that we were Nepali, not Bhutanese refugees.

As a first-generation college student, I came to PSU with little knowledge of college. My parents never had the opportunity to go to school, so I couldn’t rely on them for advice. The first year of college was really exciting and overwhelming at the same time. I was in an ESL program back in high school, and I faced academic challenges. Fortunately, there are lot of resources available on campus. The Diversity Scholarship Program really helped me navigate school and connect with other fellow Diversity Scholarship recipients, which made feel at home and gave me a sense of community. Through my college experience, I have been inspired to become a mentor. This is my second year serving as a peer mentor to the Diversity Scholarship Program. As a peer mentor, I work closely with first generation and underrepresented students with their college transition. I am also part of TRIO student support service, which has really helped me in advising, writing and connecting to resources on campus and beyond.  

I hope my story will change the perception of refugee and immigrants in this country. I also hope my diverse cultural background and personal experiences inspire students to promote diversity that will unite more communities throughout the campus and the world.

 


 Nabin Dhimal

Nabin is a senior who is graduating in spring 2018 with a B.S. in social science and a double minor in sociology and psychology. He will continue his education in PSU’s Graduate School of Education’s Educational Leadership and Policy Leadership for Sustainability (LSE) program with the goal of working with underrepresented students and people of color to promote social justice and equity.