The Gift of Language

“Never give up anything. Just hope for better. Things get better, be hopeful, be positive.”

WhenSudarwas growing up in the southern part of Bhutan, he moved north to join his brother who was working there. Books were burned, demonstrations occurred, and schools were closed in theSouth. In theNorth, everyone spoke the national language of Bhutan: Dzongkha. However,Sudardidnot. He spoke Nepali, the language commonly spoken in theSouth. He started attendingschool,whichhad a rule thatif he spoke one word of Nepali, he had to pay fivengultrum (Bhutanese currency). He says, “I paid threetimes but I didn’t have any money to pay, so I was silent. Itwas better not to speak anything than to pay the fine.” Because of his silence, other students realized that he was from theSouth. Taking advantage of his inability to speak up andto complain to a higher authority, they began to push and hit him. His time in theNorth was a time of struggle.

After fleeing to Nepal, sixyears of life in a refugee camp awaited him.Sudarworked hard, attending college and working in many jobs,including as a high school principal. Years later, he was able to come to the U.S. as a refugee. He and his family were resettled by Catholic Charities in Fort Worth, Texas. Now,Sudaris an ESL program specialist, helping give the power and gift of language to many people who are new to the U.S. and are trying to learn English in order to build a better life for themselves and their families.