New Arrivals: Bhutanese Refugees

By Mary Ann Zehr — April 29, 2008 1 min read
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I found myself in the same boat as many educators a few weeks ago when I embarked on a quest to learn about Bhutanese refugees, a new wave of immigrants arriving in the United States. I had to start from scratch.

Here are a few of the basics: Bhutan is a small country wedged between India and China. It has been the home to different ethnic groups, including the refugees, who lived in Bhutan for generations and retained their Nepalese language and culture. The refugees say they were forced out of the country by discriminatory policies that made it difficult for them to legally live and work there, though the Bhutanese government says they left the country voluntarily. The Bhutanese refugees who just started to arrive in the United States have been living in refugee camps in Nepal for about 16 years. Tens of thousands are expected to arrive over the next five years.

I tell more about what I learned in “Schools Brace for Bhutanese Wave,” published this week in Education Week. I found out, for instance, that I can keep track of the new groups of refugees arriving in the United States through the Cultural Orientation Resource Center of the Washington-based Center for Applied Linguistics.

A version of this news article first appeared in the Learning the Language blog.