MAR IMSONG,                          EXECUTIVE DIRECTOR, MBMM   On September 2, 1997, I arrived at the Princeton Theological Seminary, NJ with $50 in my pocket. Emerging from JFK Airport the nature of this country was immediately impressed upon me along the New Jersey Turnpike with the volume of cars most of them occupied only by the driver, I’d never quite seen anything like this in India. Consumerism, a concept for me in India, became a reality for me the moment I landed in the US.  I am originally from Nagaland. Nagaland is sandwiched by great civilizations: China in the north, Bangladesh in the west, and Burma to the east, and maintains its unique cultural and religious (Christian) identity amidst Islam, Buddhists, and Hindu practices. Naga people’s independence and self-determination movement from India steeped in that diversity have resulted in conflicts between Indian Army and Naga insurgent groups and resulted in thousands of deaths of the Nagas under Indian military atrocities. This unique experience of caste, religious and ethnic conflicts have prepared me personally in mission as a model for MBMM, and our call to Embracing Hospitality (welcoming strangers).

MAR IMSONG, EXECUTIVE DIRECTOR, MBMM

On September 2, 1997, I arrived at the Princeton Theological Seminary, NJ with $50 in my pocket. Emerging from JFK Airport the nature of this country was immediately impressed upon me along the New Jersey Turnpike with the volume of cars most of them occupied only by the driver, I’d never quite seen anything like this in India. Consumerism, a concept for me in India, became a reality for me the moment I landed in the US.

I am originally from Nagaland. Nagaland is sandwiched by great civilizations: China in the north, Bangladesh in the west, and Burma to the east, and maintains its unique cultural and religious (Christian) identity amidst Islam, Buddhists, and Hindu practices. Naga people’s independence and self-determination movement from India steeped in that diversity have resulted in conflicts between Indian Army and Naga insurgent groups and resulted in thousands of deaths of the Nagas under Indian military atrocities. This unique experience of caste, religious and ethnic conflicts have prepared me personally in mission as a model for MBMM, and our call to Embracing Hospitality (welcoming strangers).

  GANESH GURUNG   I am Ganesh, and I am proud to be a U.S. Citizen. I was once a Bhutanese refugee. Together with my family, we walked bare-footed, empty stomachs for fifteen days through dense forest to the border of Nepal. My two year old sister, died from hunger and exposure along the journey and we had no choice but to leave her tiny body behind. For those of you reading who may not know, Bhutan is a small landlocked country located in southeast Asia, bordered by China in the north, India in the south, and Nepal to the west.  In Nepal, refugee life is confined to a bamboo hut, there is little access to basic foods, lacking electricity, television, and internet access in a camp where thousands of infants and elders alike die due to lack of proper healthcare, food and shelter. In 2012, a Non-Governmental Organization identified us “Bhutanese Refugees” opening an opportunity to resettle in the USA.  I began working in a 7-Eleven - scheduled for the busiest shifts because of my hardworking ethic which helped improve my English. I worked toward my dreams and graduated with an undergraduate International degree and graduated from Worcester State University. Presently, I am pursuing my Juris Doctor at Massachusetts School of Law in Andover and spend 6 hours a day in classes.  The unforgettable past in the jungles and suffocating refugee camp motivated change in my life. With MBMM, I was provided resources that helped me assimilate, reach further, and in turn, provided me an opportunity to pay it forward. Today, I am a MBMM Refugee Advocate and I assist Bhutanese speaking refugees, meeting them where they are at and helping them set goals to get them where they dream of being.

GANESH GURUNG

I am Ganesh, and I am proud to be a U.S. Citizen. I was once a Bhutanese refugee. Together with my family, we walked bare-footed, empty stomachs for fifteen days through dense forest to the border of Nepal. My two year old sister, died from hunger and exposure along the journey and we had no choice but to leave her tiny body behind. For those of you reading who may not know, Bhutan is a small landlocked country located in southeast Asia, bordered by China in the north, India in the south, and Nepal to the west.

In Nepal, refugee life is confined to a bamboo hut, there is little access to basic foods, lacking electricity, television, and internet access in a camp where thousands of infants and elders alike die due to lack of proper healthcare, food and shelter. In 2012, a Non-Governmental Organization identified us “Bhutanese Refugees” opening an opportunity to resettle in the USA.

I began working in a 7-Eleven - scheduled for the busiest shifts because of my hardworking ethic which helped improve my English. I worked toward my dreams and graduated with an undergraduate International degree and graduated from Worcester State University. Presently, I am pursuing my Juris Doctor at Massachusetts School of Law in Andover and spend 6 hours a day in classes.

The unforgettable past in the jungles and suffocating refugee camp motivated change in my life. With MBMM, I was provided resources that helped me assimilate, reach further, and in turn, provided me an opportunity to pay it forward. Today, I am a MBMM Refugee Advocate and I assist Bhutanese speaking refugees, meeting them where they are at and helping them set goals to get them where they dream of being.

  APOLLOS BA   I was 16 years old when I came to America in 2013. Before that I lived in a city in Burma. Beginning high school in the US was a culture shock for me, there was a big difference in behavior - in Burma if a student behaved disrespectfully, they could be beaten. Here the culture of student/teacher interaction is not as strict and I was surprised to see how much behavior was tolerated. I eventually met friends who are very different than me, it was difficult as I am introverted and not into sports, it seemed there was a gap in common interests.  Fortunately, english was not difficult for me to adapt to, and is a gift I volunteer to share with other Burmese refugees who immigrate to the US, many fleeing their villages that were burned.  I continue to volunteer at SayDaNar, a community development organization based out of Lowell MA that focuses on working with the local refugee community. I am a Refugee Advocate for MBMM and I work with Burmese refugees and families who’ve settled here to translate documents and help them complete and file everyday forms like healthcare and other legal filings that many Americans could take for granted.  My personal growth in the US has enabled me to become more independent, and take advantage of access to education. Today, I attend University of Massachusetts at Lowell, where I am pursuing my Bachelor of Arts degree in Computer Science. My goal is to use this to continue helping others.

APOLLOS BA

I was 16 years old when I came to America in 2013. Before that I lived in a city in Burma. Beginning high school in the US was a culture shock for me, there was a big difference in behavior - in Burma if a student behaved disrespectfully, they could be beaten. Here the culture of student/teacher interaction is not as strict and I was surprised to see how much behavior was tolerated. I eventually met friends who are very different than me, it was difficult as I am introverted and not into sports, it seemed there was a gap in common interests.

Fortunately, english was not difficult for me to adapt to, and is a gift I volunteer to share with other Burmese refugees who immigrate to the US, many fleeing their villages that were burned.

I continue to volunteer at SayDaNar, a community development organization based out of Lowell MA that focuses on working with the local refugee community. I am a Refugee Advocate for MBMM and I work with Burmese refugees and families who’ve settled here to translate documents and help them complete and file everyday forms like healthcare and other legal filings that many Americans could take for granted.

My personal growth in the US has enabled me to become more independent, and take advantage of access to education. Today, I attend University of Massachusetts at Lowell, where I am pursuing my Bachelor of Arts degree in Computer Science. My goal is to use this to continue helping others.