I was born in Bhutan, where the government and people discriminated against my family because of our language, religion, and ethnicity. When I was very young, my family escaped to Nepal. A refugee camp was my home for the next twenty years. This camp was just rows and rows of bamboo huts. We refugees were not allowed to work in Nepal and had no opportunities for moving forward.
My trip to the United States was my first experience with a plane ride and I felt suffocated. I saw and experienced such things that I had never imagined—it was amazing. On February 2, 2011, I arrived in the United States. After spending one night in New York City, I finally reached my destination of Providence, Rhode Island. What a surprise to see snow for the first time! My caseworker and some of my family members met me at the airport. In that moment, my emotions ran from extreme happiness to extreme anxiety. When we arrived at our new home, I had to learn how to use the lights, the door locks—everything. After the International Institute [a USCRI affiliate] helped me to get settled, they found me a job. I work hard and earned enough money to buy a car. It was very difficult at first, but I can now understand American English and have become very comfortable in my new home.
Keshab Bhandari, a Bhutanese refugee at IIRI, featured in the USCRI 2011 Annual Report (via refugeeresettlementri)