My work right now also involves me in meeting Nepali in USA, and then talking/learning about ideas on how to improve the holistic health approach in Nepal. This involves me talking about good examples of health projects in Nepal, and also about my own (Nidan). I talk about environment project, deforestation, occupational health and the main course of Maternal and Child Health. There are different genre of Nepali speaking population and great deal of information gets shared, both to and fro. But this post is not about what I talk, but to whom(?).
What (they) said back home
“Certainly not rumors, but more of an exaggerated facts” were my initial thoughts when I heard about the two classes of Nepali in developed countries. The educated – working group and the non-educated labor group. For a quick disclosure – Nepali migration to this part of the world only increased from late 90s. So as a whole, there are very few numbers in this all.
I was warned by friends and families alike, by not to get into Nepali groups of “Beer-n-Gungis”
Let me explain – FIRST GROUP – These are not hard facts, but portray a general feature exploration. These are the groups of people who work all week, mostly labor works. Most the work is either in retail shops, gas stations, and beauty parlor/saloon. I do not have any facts or number, but these are the jobs that you hear back home. Kind of makes me think that most are not used to heavy lifting and machine or construction work. These work may be legal or illegal, but most fall into the grey zone of unknown. Pretty good work ethics, and silent/sober Asian feel which includes soft spoken voice, and not so heavy English (Hindi) Accent. There is a definite Nepali English Accent, which is slightly different then our Southern neighbors, which is also, in my opinion, a bit better (I guess nationality creeps in). Its not thick as Hindi Accent, but it has its own perks of ups and down.
Then they come home, and do nothing. Then comes the weekend, and they do nothing. Their sole purpose of existence is to make a decent living and enjoy this developed nation – literally. May be a little too hard on critics, but these are the population cohort, who, more or less have nothing to gain or loose. Every evening, and most weekends are usually time spend with Beer and Cards (“marriage” anyone). One very distinct feature is the heavy use of white sleeveless shirts (the gungis) and briefs for men. They are very fond of Chicken and even greater a fan of Bacon/Pork meat.
SECOND GROUP – These are the educated bunch. They definitely live a better life. They are the ones who usually graduated in USA, and have families and make their children study like those akin to Chinese and Indian parents. Depending upon the years of stay in here,
- 5+ years – unmarried – still studying, is in relationship or about to get married
- 7+ year – usually married – has a stable job or doing his/her PHD
- 10+ year – usually has 2 kids (i don’t know, but most Nepali in USA, that I know of have two children), a beautiful home, and stable income
- 15+ years – Their kid is very good in studies, Family still intact. (The divorce percentage is still very low)
Obviously there are few exception, but this is the general idea I have, from around 20 Nepali origin families I know in USA.But now, with some first hand exposure, here is what I think, I know now. There ought to be one more group – which definitely comes before these two groups.
THIRD GROUP – the students – Yes ! finally the group where I belong to. There were around 9000 Nepali students in USA for the year 2011/12. These are mostly non-medicals students, and have come mostly for undergraduate education. We are the population that might, some day, be Nepal’s executive class of thinkers and policy makers. We represent Nepal’s future. Disclosure – I do not know what my thought process a year from now will be, but for now, I am certain going back to Nepal, and working my way up to the executive level.
However, this student group has seen a gradual decrease in application for the last two years, as US Embassy back home tightened its Visa process in recent years, which ultimately led to this student group opting more for other developing nations like Australia and West Europe (including England). For the record, there were around (I guess) 40+ Visa applicant when I applied for US Visa this year on that favorable day in early June, this year.
One small note – Nepal is almost a fail state – and the whole economy of the country runs through remittance through Nepali migrant labor workers from Middle East and South East Asia. Those so called educated Nepali (including me, maybe) who are in developed world have very (extremely) little share in Nepal’s economy. Nepali in developed world usually do not send in remittance, and/or have very direct/indirect role in Nepal’s economy and development. This is sad. 😦
Not to sound eager and patriotic, but I hope I am able to do something about it. For the readers, I am definitely not in love with Nepal, I just think I need to do some good work for my birth place and family/friends.
Some More Facts
How many Nepali speaking citizens in USA?
A 2010 Census report on Asian Origin Americans reveals that there are around 59,490 Nepali speaking individual in USA with legal citizenship. Significant communities of Nepalese Americans exist in large metropolitan areas such as New York City, Boston, Chicago, Denver, Gainesville, Florida, Portland, Oregon, and Saint Paul, Minnesota.
What about legal residence?
A quick web search reveals the number to be around 110,616 through Wikipedia. But this does not say legal residence or citizens. Lets break it down first to Diversity Visa Program. Applicants registered for the DV-2013 program were selected at random from 7,941,400 qualified entries (12,577,463 with derivatives) received during the 30-day application period. Nope, I did not enter this year, but those who did, 4,370 Nepali getting this opportunity, which included my one distant cousin, and one very awesome friend from high school years. This number was 3,258 in 2012.
In the 2011/12 academic year, 9,621 students from Nepal were studying in the United States (down 6.6% from the previous year). Nepal is the eleventh leading place of origin for students coming to the United States. 53.3% are undergraduates, and 29.3% are graduate students.[2,3]
Bhutanese (Nepali) Refugee – in USA
In 1988, the government of Bhutan conducted its first real census exercise. The basis for census citizenship classifications was the 1958 “cut off” year, the year that the local Nepali population had first received Bhutanese citizenship. Those who could not provide proof of residency prior to 1958 were adjudged to be illegal immigrants. Majority fled to India, and significant number arrived to Nepal, as well. During the last 20 years or so, number of refugees in Nepal (more than 69,000 of an original total of 108,000 refugees) have found a durable solution in third countries, thanks to the support of support of resettlement States and Government of Nepal. These resettlement program were started in 2007, and among the eight working under the UNHCR, USA has accepted the largest number of refugees. 
I mention the Bhutanese refugee here, as they’d lived in Nepal for almost 20 years, and most have similar Nepali culture/traditions. Legally they have a convoluted presence, however, culturally they are every bit Nepali, and speak Nepali as well.
[quick questions] – So how many Nepali (from Nepal) got a refugee status (in USA)?
In 2011, there were some 56k admitted to USA as refugee. About approximately three percent were of Nepali origin (seeking refugee/asylum). This is give or take 500 as numbers. Well there are three variation of these refugee status – Affirmative Asylees, Defensive Asylees, and Follow-to-Join Asylees – the scope of which is beyond me, at the moment. For more information, refer to the report by Daniel C. Martin and James E. Yankay from May 2012. 
- Nepal DHS 2011 [pdf link]
Open Doors® 2012 – Report on International Educational Exchange [pdf link]
- Open Doors Data – Fact Sheets by Country – 2012 – Nepal [pdf link]
- Daniel C. Martin and James E. Yankay. Refugees and Asylees: 2011 [May 2012]
Nepalese American – Wikipedia [web link]
- Demographics of Nepal – Wikipedia [web link]
- Nepal Census – 2011 – [pdf link]
2013 UNHCR regional operations profile – South Asia Working environment [web link]
The Asian Population : 2010 Census Briefs[web link]
- Nepalese Americans – Countries and Their Culture [web link]
NEXT POST – Next Wednesday 🙂