Table of Contents

AVP Taste of Empowerment Mini-Workshop

AVP Taste of Empowerment Mini-Workshop
Worcester Friends Meeting House
Worcester, MA, June 3, 2017 (6 hours)
A workshop for resettled Bhutanese in Nepali

Facilitated by Jamuna Shrestha and Mon Maya Rai
Support by Nadine Hoover and Jane Cutting
Coordination by Mon Rai and Katie Green

The fifteen participants were from the same ethnic group, Gurung, except three ­— one Chhetri, one Wangchuk, and one Brahman — because the Bhutanese community organizer and leader was Gurung. Caste and ethnic divisions in the local Bhutanese-Nepali community are quite noticeable in this area. The Director and the Acting President of the local Bhutanese Association participated. The Bhutanese community people in this area don’t feel they have time to participate in events, even on the weekends, because they mostly think that without money they cannot do anything. Some of the participants had just arrived in the U.S. and were feeling confused and frustrated. They said that with no English language, no education, no car and no job it was difficult to survive in the U.S.

Still, the workshop went very well. It was so interesting that from the beginning for the first half of the workshop two of the participants talked about money and how white-skinned people just use us and do not support us, so we shouldn’t waste our time with them. But how powerful the AVP activities are for people!

After Broken Squares they began to realize that money is not the main issue. As human beings, we have to take care of each other,

Speaking after Worcester friends meeting house, May 2017 Jamuna Nadine and others

meaning the Bhutanese need to take care of one another. Some are still suffering, and people are still arriving from Nepal. After this activity, they said that in the community when I am fine myself, but others are not, it’s not complete. They suddenly realized the way they were thinking about just money all the time was wrong. Then again, after the introduction of transforming power, they expressed their thoughts and emotions, which were totally different from the beginning of the workshop just five or six hours earlier! I also noticed their thinking pattern change after the light and lively games like Big Wind Blows, Pattern Balls and so forth.

I realized from this workshop how much difference I can make in the world while traveling, with a little effort and the AVP approach! I can invest my time in creating a change for peace, with love and respect. I choose the power of visiting and sharing insights and practices.

Facilitating and participating with diverse individuals from various experiences in various countries, Bhutan, Nepal and the USA, I believe one of my roles is to positively reflect the reality of Bhutanese refugees resettled in the US today, how it has changed from when they were in the camps in Nepal, and the effects of their exile and resettlement on international relations. Travel often teaches us that we have many things in common with individuals across the world, who may appear to be different from us. But the cooperative agreements helps see our relationships through our daily communication from a new view. Mutual understanding is an important aspect, but it is difficult to get there without the contrasts we see in different contexts.

Volunteering is a great way to connect with any community and help make an impact. In my journey, I got to learn how people from other countries are solving problems creatively. After sharing a AVP, I will surely stay in touch with the friends I made throughout this trip. They need so much more time and attention to apprentice and develop these skills for themselves and their communities.

These are my personal reflections of a couple weeks spent in the US, with the help of AVP and Friends Peace Teams. The US experience is completely different from the tangibles like its architecture and landscape, to the intangibles like its culture and lifestyle. I was awestruck by how the resettled Bhutanese live happily despite all the struggles and hard work that they have to deal with in their daily lives. I got a chance to closely observe their lives while staying in Mon Rai’s apartment and visited others’ homes. The Bhutanese community is dedicated to sustaining the relations we are making among people across the US.

Two of the participants want to continue to participate with AVP in their area. They were feeling relief and relaxed in the workshop. They said they had no trustworthy person, or good companion, in their family, community or working place. It seems like families are divided by the aspirations for work and wealth in the U.S., and they don’t feel they have time for self care and community care. But the participants in our workshop were reflecting on the core self, and feeling the importance of personal values and life. We invited them to participate in Trauma Resiliency Workshop 7-9 July 2017 in Buffalo, NY.