Thousands of miles away from their former home in Nepal, three Dallas teens have bonded over the memories of a childhood they were forced to leave. Anita, Phul Maya, and Sunita have formed a friendship since their families relocated to Dallas about five years ago. Originally from Bhutan, these young women and their families practice Hinduism. Due to religious tension between the Buddhist and Hindu communities, economic unrest forced many out of work. Finding it nearly impossible to make a living, these women’s families had to leave the lives they knew well to resettle in the United States. Now, after half a decade in Dallas, these women still hold the memories and traditions of their native culture close to heart. We asked each girl to share a GEM with us, something uniquely special to each of them that represents their refugee journeys:
Anita selected a Nepali mug as her GEM, because she considers it “really beautiful and unique,” a cherished token from the past. Her family honors the tradition of letting the head of household, typically a father or grandfather, use the mug as a symbol of respect when they gather together for holiday celebrations. It is also presented to special guests as a welcoming gesture when they offer hospitality.
Phul Maya showed us a traditional necklace, called a “Pote,” as her GEM. This treasured piece of jewelry is typically worn by a bride, and Phul Maya hopes to continue this tradition at her own wedding one day.
Sunita selected a beautiful sari as her GEM. Although she doesn’t wear it frequently, she enjoys sharing the tradition with her mother for special occasions because of the way it allows them to connect. Through wearing a sari, her mother is able to teach her more about their family’s traditions, and it strengthens and continues their bond with the culture they left behind.
Anita, Phul Maya, and Sunita’s friendship is a beautiful way for these three women to sustain their culture, appreciate their past, and go confidently into their bright futures.