Born as Bhutanese citizen but later in 1990s he became prey to ethnic cleansing, the cruel act of Bhutan Government resultant of which he had to undergo difficult life as Refugee for many years. With no luck of several attempts of repatriation, he and his family, finally, in 2007 arrived in USA through third country resettlement process as durable solution.
As several other refugees, he came here with bare hand. It was a world entirely new to him. In-spite of having degree in hand, had to picked up odd jobs. With the hope of new life and new home, he did struggle and reportedly became the first Bhutanese American elected to office in the nation.
Now he is the real example of willpower, possibility and history maker of our community. He is none other than Bhuwan Pyakural, our pride and inspiration. He represents Ward 3, city council for Reynoldsburg, Ohio. We, Bhutanese communities in United States are really proud of him. This week we chat with him and here’s some of those Q&As.
- How are your days been after winning the City Council? Any Surprising experiences?
Winning any election is very important for any candidate, because candidates often put their best into reaching out to people and working hard to earn their votes and confidence. For the last several months nearly every day, I went into the community and met with citizens to listen to their concerns and needs, and to explain to them why they should vote for me in order to best address those needs. On the night of Tuesday, November 5, when I found out that I had won my race for City Council, I felt great honor and was filled with joy.
The 2019 election in Reynoldsburg, Ohio, a growing Columbus suburb of 40,000, was different and historic in several ways. This election was important because change was needed to move the city forward. This was the first time in recent history that there was a full slate of Democratic candidates running, and we all worked together to communicate a strong vision for the city. This was the first time Reynoldsburg had three African-American women candidates on the ballot, and all three were elected to City Council! Also I was the first New American candidate on the ballot in the history of Reynoldsburg.
With the new Democratic mayor, city attorney and the four Council Members winning their races, the Reynoldsburg voters elected the first Democratic-led City government in its history, and its most diverse leadership ever.
People across the county and world started calling and congratulating me for this historic win. This election was very big in many ways, but especially for Reynoldsburg. Our city needed change and now the voters have spoken through the ballot who they want to lead that change. Now it is up to us to work together and fulfill the promises we made. Now, every day, I am working to keep those promises and serve our community.
- What issues do you think that especially impact young generation you want to tackle? In addition, what are some of your priorities that you like to push forward?
We need to involve our youths and empower them in different fields. Civic engagement is very important for our younger generation. More and more young people need to be involved in our government and work on bringing the change they want.
Using the most modern technologies in our city government is essential, for all citizens but particularly to engage our young people. I will work with other members of the council and see what can be done to elevate how we communicate and respond to citizens via technology.
- What is your advice to others in the community who want to get into politics?
First of all, everyone needs to understand that to run for office and serve our community is a privilege. Not everyone in the US can do this! Many people cannot vote because of barriers, even if they want to. So, all of us who are citizens should understand this and be a voice of the voiceless.
Most importantly, if you are thinking of getting involved, you need to believe in yourself! Once you trust yourself, the sky is the limit, nothing is impossible. If you want change, you need to come forward and start working on it.
As refugees remaking our lives in new countries, we need to realize that we were forced out of Bhutan because we did not have our political rights in Bhutan. Now we have civil and political rights and freedoms, and we must cherish them and use them to the fullest. One of the best ways of using these rights is to vote and run for public office. You can also start by volunteering for a campaign and learning about how a campaign is organized and coordinated.
Being involved politically – or civically – can also start with engaging in local activities such as the Boy Scouts, Girl Scouts, YMCA, 4H programs, or with organizations that works to advance good government and active democracy. These and other groups and activities are platforms that are available which help to develop leadership in our youths. These also encourage our youths to be civically engaged and be part of their local society. Be part of local organizations such as the YMCA, as many such programs are free or at a reasonable cost. This all helps to develop leadership qualities and make it easier for stronger local integration.
- What solutions do you support for making community the better place?
Inclusive community is the best for all. All of us can have different cultures and different belief systems, but we can respect each other and continue to follow our own belief systems at the same time. We are all Americans, and I believe in “United We Stand.” In City government, I believe that having good communication channels between the government and our citizens is most essential. Everyone may have a different ability of understanding… this could be the result of a family situation, a disability or a level of education. So, while making decisions, all these things need to be considered. Our diversity is our strength — in Reynoldsburg and in America. The multilingual and multicultural environment of our city should be celebrated at the highest level.
- Where you imagine the community that you represent would be and where would you like to see yourself after ten years?
In the next 10 years, the Reynoldsburg community will continue to grow and become more diverse. As Reynoldsburg grows, more and more opportunities will be coming to the city, and all of us need to work to make sure those new opportunities raise the quality of life for everyone.
At this time my plan is to give 100% of my time to City Council and see what can be done. I am a believer in the present, so I am not thinking of the future but looking forward to seeing if we can make our present the best it can be. With this experience and this great honor to give back to America and my community, I believe that sky is the limit and we can certainly achieve anything in this great nation.