A Decade Later: Challenges and Success Stories of Bhutanese Refugee Resettlement in the United States
Since 2008 almost 96, 000 Bhutanese refugees have been resettled in the United States of America. After 20 years or more in refugee camps in Nepal and several failed negotiations by the United Nation High Commissioner for Refugees to repatriate the refugees back to Bhutan, third country resettlement became the only solution. After the first wave of arrivals, Bhutanese refugees began to arrive in large numbers, until last year when only about 7,000 refugees have remained in the two of the seven camps in South eastern Nepal. A decade of resettlement, and one of the greatest success stories of third-country resettlement, was still fraught with questions. Was resettlement easy? The Resettlement agencies provide assistance and aid to the refugees to start their life in the United States. However, despite the efforts to help them achieve self-sufficiency, the Bhutanese refugees face innumerable complexities, like the language barrier, unemployment, inability to find jobs commensurate to their educational qualifications, and the problems of adjustment faced by the elderly, including the high rate of suicide among them, which stand in the way of an easy resettlement. There is also the question of the Bhutanese youth and the effects of a western/American life on them. On the flip side, there are many success stories of the refugees. In 2019 A Bhutanese Refugee was elected to the District Council in Columbus, Ohio, the children are being successful in school and carving out successful careers, the middle aged are settling down in jobs and successful businesses, while making sure that they are taking care of the elderly. The Bhutanese refugees come with the advantage of the English language and a strong desire to be successful. Many of them have overcome the odds and cultural barriers and have made a success of their lives in the United States. The paper will focus on the challenges of resettlement among the Bhutanese refugees. Life in America for the refugees has been challenging. The Bhutanese refugees bring with them specific cultural and psychological vulnerabilities, which require careful approach for successful resettlement.
What have been the coping strategies of the Bhutanese in America? How has the success of some affected those who are lagging behind? How are these refugees negotiating the issues of cultural differences, citizenship, home and identity in their new home? A decade later, an assessment of the Bhutanese refugee resettlement in America reveals a story of resilience, brotherhood and community building, to ensure a balanced life in the U.S. While they assimilate structurally by participating in American institutions and American life, culturally and socially they have retained an element of nostalgia in recreating aspects of their homeland in their new home, which gives something to the different generations of Bhutanese-Nepalis to hold onto, in a land far from home.