You haven't said anything about why did you decide to study abroad.
You haven't said anything about the program you went on.
Let me tell you a little bit about my family and myself. I grew up in a tiny country of Nepal. It is located in South-Central Asia between China and India. I am a Bhutanese refugee. In our camp, we had a small but beautiful house. We had a two-room house, with a kitchen and a sitting room. My house was made up of bamboo, wood, plastic, and thatch. This was where I spent my beautiful 14 years without any light. When I think back about my life as a refugee, it always makes me smile because I always find a reason to smile about it. Today, I have even more reasons to smile about it. Also, I have thought about how crazy I was, as I would fight with my brother and with friends for no reason. But on the other hand, life was not as good as it is here. We had tons of reasons to be happy about life in Nepal, including friends, family, our greatest festivals, and the community. My parents’ past life My grandparents, parents, uncles, and aunts were all born in Bhutan, and grew up there. It is a country bordered to the north by China and on the south, east and west by India, and is ruled by a king. My grandparents and parents contributed sweat, blood, and tears their entire life developing Bhutan. My parents were farmers and worked on a farm. According to my dad and uncle, they said that my grandfather was the richest person from the city, with a net worth of.... In spite of their hard work, they had to leave their own country in 1991 because of their traditional beliefs, religion, language, and how they dressed. The Bhutanese Army physically and mentally tortured some of my family members. About my camp For 14 years I lived with my family in a small but beautiful camp, with its harmony, diversity, and unity. More than 40,000 Bhutanese people lived there. This area was less than a mile across. Even though people had different thoughts and opinions about their religious beliefs, we worked as one team. In the camp, most of the population practiced Hinduism, Buddhism, and Christianity. Together we celebrated their great festivals: for the Hindus, Dashain (“taking away ill fortunes”) and Tihar (long life wishes from sisters to their brothers”); for Buddhism, Buddha Purnima (Buddha’s Birthday), and Losar (“new year”), and for Christians, Christmas. We used to get days off on these festivals. Honestly, I miss the beautiful daily moment of my life. Usually, my day began at 4:00am, and we would start a day by taking care of our own business. For example, if you were in High/middle School, students woke up early to study. Women had to lineup with their pails, water cans, and buckets, at a water tap to get drinking water. I still remember those days, when my grandparents would wake up at 4:00 am every day to offer prayer to God. My grandparents’ day began by taking a shower with a bucket of water. Even when the temperature was less than 30 degrees outside, they still used the cold water because we didn't have any gas, heater, or electricity to heat the water. While living in the United States, my grandparents still wakeup at 4:00 am every morning to offer prayer to God, do yoga, and meditate. Their beliefs about Karma are the same as mine. You may be wondering how we cooked food, right? For cooking purposes we only used firewood, coals, and a stove. Overall, our rations were not sufficient enough. Life in the camp was tough because of the overcrowded area, which had more than 40,000 people. There were not enough rations, medicines, and clothes to go around, and sometimes the cold weather was very harmful. Thousands of people died because of the poor weather, because snakes bit them, because of diseases and lack of adequate care. I still remember a day of my life in the refugee camp. My house was under a big tree, and whenever it was windy, which it was usually outside at night, I started praying to God to make sure that tree wouldn’t fall and kill us. Also during the nighttime while sleeping, the drops of water woke me up because the plastic roof wasn’t stable enough to protect us from heavy rain. In my family I have my mom, dad, older brother, and little sister. My little sister was born here, three years ago, and without her, my life would be incomplete. Every time, when she calls me, she always mentions, "She is studying." That is basically a false statement. My mom can't be employed because she has a 24-hour job at home. She has to cook for my dad, my brother, and also has to take care of my cute little sister. On the other hand, my father is currently the only one working and providing income for the family. My brother is currently studying at Triangle-Tech as a full-time student and wants to pursue a degree in electrical engineering. Last but not least, I love my family so much, as everyone loves theirs. Back in 2008, my family and I came to the United States of America hoping for a better future and a better life. I cannot live my life without thanking the International Organization for Migration (IOM) and the United States Government. Without their help I would not be here today. For example, the International Organization for Migration (IOM) did our paper works, provided orientations, and helped with medical appointments, while the United States Government accepted us and provided us better opportunities to live a better life. Last, but not least, I'm proud to say that I'm an American Citizen and I am allowed to vote. After 24 hours of flights from Nepal to New Delhi, India, and then from New Delhi to Belgium, our family finally landed in the most beautiful city in the world, a place called Pittsburgh, which I realized after a day. For few days, I was feeling dizzy because of the long flight. That same day, we came to realize that we came through the non-profit organization called Catholic Charities, where I had the wonderful opportunity to meet with my case manager, Raihan Mugwaneza, director John Miller, Kheir Mugwaneza, and other staffs, who contributed their time to help newly arrived refugees like us. The Catholic Charities took care of our paperwork, provided us with bus passes for 3 months, paid our rent for 3 months, gave us clothes and furniture’s, literally, the basic needs to endure in our new life. After a month, the organization also provided a job for my dad, and he is still working there as a press operator. Luckily, we had the best-case manager; she took us to the welfare office to apply for Food Stamps, to the Social Security office for Social Security, and took care of every document we needed to stay in the US. Welfare provided us with health insurance for 8 months, and in 8 months we needed to take advantage of it. Due to those reasons, we had a lot of appointments in 4 months. Our caseworker also took us to the hospital for physical checkups, for dental, and for eye exams. My least favorite was getting 10 shots in less than a month. Therefore, I am sincerely thankful to my caseworker, director, the staffs, and the organizations. But life wasn't easy at that time, and we faced many challenges. For us, life was very challenging and tough because of the lack of English. It was hard for us to understand the American accent. However, at that time my broken English did work even though I had a hard time communicating with friends. Back in Nepal, as a refugee, we did not have many opportunities to study like here. But guess what? Caritas Nepal is a non-profit organization that works to build better futures for poor people and refugees, and this organization has also provided education for more than 20 years and is still providing educational support to those brothers and sisters who are currently in Nepal as refugees. I took all the educational opportunities that were provided by this organization. Well, I was not a bright student at all because I was not good in reading and writing in Nepali. Due to this reason my grades were bad. Every year was challenging and frustrating because all of my friends got good grades and I did not. After my 5th grade, I ended up realizing that the meaning of life was education, and started putting a lot more time into my studies instead of playing soccer, volleyball, and watching movies. This was the one of the saddest moment of my life, which will never be forgotten because my lack of interest in studying affected my family and I. On the other hand, it made me a stronger person. At the time, I felt like I had no future, no aim, and my life was meaningless. In the meantime, back in Nepal, I literally spoke broken English, but it wasn't sufficient enough for me to communicate with my friends. Everyday my family faces challenges because of our new culture, the languages, and way of American life. However, in the long run, it has made us stronger than ever. My high school and interesting fact Back in 2008, I was admitted to Baldwin High School of Pittsburgh as a freshman. I still remember my first day at Baldwin. My case manager told me that we would get a free lunch, so I was not expecting to buy one. Thankfully, my guidance counselor, Mr. D, gave me $10 for lunch because they had not put my information on their system yet, and I did not have my wallet with me. The next day, I went to the cafeteria area and I grabbed a pizza; I took full advantage of the free lunch system. My goodness, for a whole school year I ate pizza because I thought pizza was the only free food I could get for free because no one told me, and also I was the first Bhutanese student to go to Baldwin. Luckily, in my sophomore year, another student, Abdula Aden, said that, "I can get anything I want as a free lunch." Baldwin is where I spent my 4 years, learning English, adapting to the new cultures, traditions, and values. At first, it was very complicated for me to understand English, but as time passed, I tried my hardest to stick with it. At that time, I took a few Second Language (ESL) classes that helped me improve my English writing skills, grammar, sentence formation, punctuation and documentation, but still it was not good enough to communicate with everyone. For example, certain skills such as Google Scholar, journals, and authorized sources for academic use were still unclear, but when I took college writing classes, it helped me a lot. This course also helped me to focus on my studies, improve my writing skills, communication skills, and revising skills. Four years of high school definitely helped me to analyze, and interpret reading, and it helped me to develop my understanding of literature. Finally, I learned how to use MLA format and more importantly how to use signal phrases to introduce quotes. Before I never had to use MLA format, and I had never used a signal phrase in my entire life. When I was in high school, I was a shy for a year; I really did not participate a lot. Even when I did participate in my classes or in extracurricular activities in high school, I usually had a hard time communicating with my friends and my teachers. Sometimes, I got wrong answers because my accent was so thick (it still is). I love to participate in my classes, but whenever I had to repeat my answers again and again, that became really irritating for me. But I never gave up, because that is not what I believe in. Whenever I asked those questions and/or tried to participate in a class activity, sometimes my teachers just shook their head and said, "Ya, okay," and my answers just got ignored. For me it is understandable because they did not quite understand my questions or my answers. Sometime, I asked them one question, but instead I got answers for different ones. But life is not the same as this. As time passed, my English has gotten better, but it is still not good enough to be fully engage with my American friends. Sometime I ask questions to myself, why be my English so horrible? Why can't it get better? Why do I have such a thick accent? Why do I have a hard time pronouncing some words? Why can't I pronounce a word perfectly? Why I am still speaking broken English even after staying here for more than 6 years? This is an ongoing war within me. But here comes the happy part. In my junior year, I was academically strong, my GPA started getting better, and I took a few honors classes. Also, I joined a couple of clubs and stayed for after school-activities, for the Math League, badminton practice, and soccer practice. I joined clubs like soccer, NHS, volleyball, the Refugee Club among others. Finally, in my senior year, I took a few AP, Honor, and CHS classes. I also won a couple of awards such as The Challenge Program Award for the highest volunteering hours, and The Highlander Pride Award for being a positive role model. I also earned second place on the badminton tournament organized by Baldwin High School. Due to my hard work and the support and motivation from my family and friends, I graduated with the highest honors. I was given the golden rope to wear around my shoulders. My college Since back in refugee camp I watched US Military movies, my mind was set on being a soldier, and being an American soldier was one of my dreams/goals. At that time, my dream or goal was unachievable, but once I entered the United States of America, my dream came true. I graduated from Baldwin High School back in 2012. After graduation, I joined the United States Army Reserves and went to Basic Training as well as Advanced Individual Training (AIT) back in 2012. Once I graduated from Basic Training and AIT, I applied to Slippery Rock University, and they accepted me as a freshman. Currently, I’m a junior at Slippery Rock University majoring in Information System and Business Management. I’m working hard to achieve my degree. I’m also planning to do my MBA here at Slippery Rock. For me, college life is challenging because I am still struggling with English. But I’m working hard to get better. After my hard work, I have achieved a few awards and scholarships here at Slippery Rock: Dean’s List, Presidential Awards for Residence Life, and scholarships for Contres, Capt. Kathlene, Rock Opportunity, Green and White and Abbass Alkhafaji scholarship for excellence in management. Volunteerism I believe in volunteerism, and I encourage people to volunteer in their community. Currently, I am the Global Ambassador at Slippery Rock. The purpose of this program is to help new international students to the US. As part of our responsibility, we are to be a support system and build a bond with our mentees from around the world. I am the co-founder and Vice President of great student organizations like The Bhutanese Student Group of Pittsburgh. Currently (BSGP), I'm also one of the board members and volunteers and the sport coordinator in the Bhutanese Community Association of Pittsburgh (BCAP). Back in 2008 and 2009, I also volunteered with the Catholic Charities, and in 2011 with Northern Area Multi Service Center. Those are the refugee resettlement organizations of Pittsburgh. With them, I worked as an assistant case manager, translated Nepali to English, helped clients to make their photo ID, to make doctors’ appointments, and to take them to the hospital. Finally, I also volunteered with the Squirrel Hill Health Center to take clients to the hospital and worked as a translator. Last summer, I also volunteered with the Pittsburgh Refugee Youth Summer Enrichment (PRYSE) Academy as a counselor. PRYSE Academy is a “3 week summer camp for the refugee student organized by Pitt and CMU students.” I’m working as a volunteer coordinator for the Bhutanese side for The Self Oriented Learning Environment (SOLE) Project which “provides the computers, monitors, keyboards, mice, cables, as well as new tables and chairs for the people.” Little fun/interesting facts about me My friends know me by different names, such as B, Bhagat, Bhagawat, Bagawhat, Phu- Phu, and Phuyal. But I prefer to go with B because in my first semester my friends did not talk with me since my first name was hard to pronounce for them, and then I realized that maybe I should change it to B. Well, now, it’s simple and easy to pronounce, and now everybody shouts out loudly with “what’s up B” every time they see me. I spent 14 years without light, computers, electricity and cellphones, but now I’m an Information System major. My brother is only 15 months older than I am, and I have a 4-years-old sister in my family. I am the first generation in my family to go to college/university; first Bhutanese to achieve US citizenship, and the first Bhutanese student to go to Baldwin High School. I had pizza for lunch for the whole first year in high school. I never had to use MLA format and signal phrases in my entire life. Now in my free time I love to hang out with friends, workout, volunteer in the community, play badminton and ping pong, swim (not good at it at all), play soccer, watch late night movies, and spend time with my family. No matter who I become one day, I’ll never forget who I am and what kind of life I spent back in Nepal as a refugee. When I think about my refugee camp, it always makes me smile and makes me stronger. Lastly, thank you so much for your time and consideration for reading my story. I'm proud of who I am. I’m proud to be a Bhutanese refugee.
Slippery Rock University of Pennsylvania
Major in Business Management, Information Systems