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DBCIII - Grumpy Old Man @frogcycle
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Feel good thread for Sunday night, to start the week off less horribly than usual:
1. Two years ago I signed up to help refugees right after I retired, two weeks after the election. You can connect the dots. You'd be correct. I got assigned to one newly-arrived Bhutanese family.
2. The assignment was for a 6-month period to help them get settled. Since then I have met two others, one Bhutanese and one Syrian.I love them all and would not dream of dropping our friendships. About a year ago I learned that the Bhutanese community in Ohio has a vibrant
3. social organization with get-togethers for holidays and such. I suggested to my friends it would be great to have something like that here in Illinois. I spoke to a few other people about it, trying to talk it up, but got a variety of
negative responses like we are too far
4.spread out, we asked the city for a place to meet and were turned down, etc.I told my friend "in America, people can make things like that happen."
Fast-forward to 2 weeks ago; I was at their apartment, chatting with all five of them. I told the three-year-old I was sorry I
5. had been unable to attend her birthday party the previous weekend. The dad chimed in that there was a Nepalese event coming up the two older girls would be dancing as part of the entertainment. I asked if the public were invited. He said sure, pulled out a ticket and gave it
6. to me. i figured it was a make-good for the birthday party. I was at their place yesterday and mentioned I'd see them today at the event; 17-yr old said "are you coming?" When I said yes acted surprised/pleased. Today my frirnd texted me about travel plans - I told him i'd
7.meet them there unless he needed help with transportation. He said his brother and he could carry everyone. I drove the ten miles to the venue and waited for them. And waited. And waited. Event was supposed to start at 2, but was clearly not going to. People
8. still drifting in, at 2:30 sound check having problems. Schedule is like "Hawaii time" - "sometime about x, give or take y, or maybe z", But I started getting concerned the event would start and my girls would not get to do their planned numbers. Finally about 2:50 my friends
9. arrived; I escorted them to the meeting room hoping it was still delayed. It was. In fact, several people came up to my friend, greeted and shook his hand. We all bustled in and looked for seats; as the group of about ten people was getting seated my friend grabbed me and led
10. to the front row. A banner on the stage
read "Bhutanese Buddhist Community of Illinois, Est 2018"
The event started as soon as we were seated. It kicked off with some introductions. Everything in Nepali - I did not understand a word for the entire 3 hours. The first person
11. introduced was my friend, who stood, turned around and
greeted the crowd with the traditional folded hands and "Namaste'", got applause. I was going "gee, he's some kind of popular dude." Then three teens came over and presented him a khata (ceremonial scarf indicating
12. goodwill) and a nametag indicating "special guest." Then they did the same with me! and followed with the rest of the front row, which I finally realized was the VIP seats. Throughout the show I wondered just what his role in it all was. At the end they called him to the
13. stage and he spoke nonstop for five minutes. to a big round of applause.
Afterward two guys came over to greet me and shake hands, being friendly with this non-Bhutanese stranger. I asked his brother afterwards, and he confirmed my friend had organized the "Bhutanese
14. Buddhist Community of Illinois" and was its leader. I think probably the others in VIP were the Board of Directors, with him the Chairman. That had me all aglow with pride for him. I told him I had recorded his remarks at the end. He then told me
15. part of what he had said - he had basically given me credit not just for inspiring the creation of the group, but for being a friend beyond the initial 6-mo. commitment.
Soooo... the moral of the story: you never know how the
16. little things you do may impact people. Some 400 Bhutanese/Nepalese refugees got together for a festival. Teens made banners, set up sound system, performed traditional dances. They hired professional singers, girls squealed at the teenage heartthrob singer. "My" 17-yr old
17. dancer choreographed much of it, taught others, held practice sessions. Elders who were evicted from Bhutan in the 1990's and spent 25 years in bamboo shacks in Nepal got to enjoy that festival.
And I got a Khata!
Afterthought - my concern over my girls not getting to do their dance numbers was also misplaced. They WERE the dance numbers. 9 was the leadoff - she was all over the stage in a complex routine with myriad hand and arm gestures that all mean something. She did another solo,
a group dance with 2 others, and a pair with her younger cousin visiting from Ohio for the event. 17 did 2 groups, 2 solos and a pair with a guy from her high school. He also did a solo. There were about 4 or 5 dancers other than my 3, plus the 4 paid professional singers
18 months ago I urged shy17 to dance at an event held by refugee resettlement org. Took a lot of doing, wasn't sure she'd do it until 2 hrs before the show. This year she did it again, choreographed 3 sets including costume change. This was another step up. I couldn't be prouder.
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