On Saturday, March 30, the UNCG Center for New North Carolinians (CNNC) will host the photo exhibit One Summer in Damak: Glimpses of Life in a Bhutanese Refugee Camp. The event, which is free and open to the public, spotlights one of the major refugee groups entering the U.S.
Bhutanese refugees are ethnic Nepalis who settled in Bhutan in the late 1800s only to be driven out of the country in the 1980s. Unwelcome in both Bhutan and Nepal, over 100,000 of these exiles have resided in refugee camps in eastern Nepal over the last twenty years. Life in the camps, where inhabitants depend on humanitarian aid for most of their basic needs, is challenging and primitive. Since 2008, these refugees have also begun to confront the new challenge of resettlement to third countries, including the United States. Over the last five years alone, 2,345 Bhutanese have resettled in North Carolina, making them the second largest refugee group resettled in our state over that period. Guilford County, with 825 resettled refugees, is second only to Charlotte in NC Bhutanese resettlement numbers.
In 2011, students from Duke University’s Kenan Institute for Ethics spent six weeks in Damak, Nepal, traveling to Bhutanese refugee camps, where they collected life stories through oral interviews, mapping, and photography. Their findings, brought to vibrant life by the One Summer in Damak photo exhibit, speak of insecurity and uncertainty but also of lives filled with beauty, work, a focus on education, flexible and varied forms of worship, and deep emphasis on connections with family and friends. The CNNC is excited to host this exhibit for the appreciation of local Bhutanese and to bring greater awareness of this rich community to the Greensboro populace at large.
The photo exhibit will take place at the CNNC, 915 W. Lee Street, between 11 a.m. and 1 p.m. The event will include coffee, tea, and light traditional appetizers and will feature Mr. Khem Khatiwada, a recent Bhutanese settler in North Carolina, as a speaker.