“Where is Bhutan, anyway?” asks Aaron Acharya. “This is a question I get all of the time.” As executive director of the Association for Bhutanese in America, former project coordinator at HealthRight International, and a citizen of Bhutan himself, Acharya is certainly qualified to answer this inquiry.
Yet his mission for this particular webinar extends beyond lessons in geography. Acting in response to the misunderstandings Bhutanese refugees routinely encounter upon arriving in the United States, Acharya outlines various aspects of Bhutanese culture and history so that healing centers might better serve their clients who originate from this region.
This proves no easy undertaking, for Bhutan maintains a diverse population with an extensive array of languages, ethnicities, and religions. Yet by centering his discussion on the three major socio-political groups (Ngalongs, Sarchhop, and Nepali) of the country, Acharya aptly summarizes the eclectic culture of Bhutan. From major historical events such as forced migrations in the late 20th century to modern day occupations and customary dress, Acharya presents listeners with a comprehensive overview of what initially caused many Bhutanese citizens to seek asylum abroad, and how they now maintain their cultural traditions in the United States.
Acharya additionally addresses the problems Bhutanese refugees continue to face while seeking resettlement in the United States. These challenges include insufficient food, inadequate educational programs, and unrealistic expectations. Outfitted with this insight and background information, healing centers can ultimately better address the needs of their Bhutanese clients.
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