Refugee Gives Thanks This Holiday Season

By Beata Samel, HIAS Communications Intern

Refugee Gives Thanks This Holiday Season

Former refugee Hari Dhimal with his wife at their wedding

For many Americans the holiday season is full of long-honored traditions. But for refugees living in the U.S., this time of year brings a host of brand new experiences and insights about American culture.

Hari Dhimal came to the U.S. as a refugee in 2009 after fleeing Bhutan in 1992 and living in Nepal as a political and ethnic refugee for many years. Though he initially was not familiar with the Thanksgiving tradition of giving thanks, when he became a U.S. citizen this November he could barely contain his excitement -- and gratitude.

“I am a citizen of a country for the first time in my life,” he said during a recent interview in his office at the Carolina Refugee Resettlement Agency (CRRA) in Charlotte, “America is the one country that accepts me today. I am so thankful.” 

Since coming to the U.S., Hari has also regained the ability to practice his religion. He and his wife were married in a traditional Hindu wedding ceremony in North Carolina, where they now reside.

Today, workling at the CRRA, Hari is able to encourage and help other Nepali-Bhutanese refugees to become citizens, too. “I’m grateful to the CRRA for giving me the opportunity to work here. Being thankful. That is how I celebrate the holiday season.” 

Hari may not celebrate the holidays with all the same traditions as other Americans, but like many immigrants and refugees who have come here, he has found new ways to celebrate his new start in this country. Hari’s tradition this holiday season is to give thanks by appreciating being here every day.

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