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18-year-old Bala Diyali is a Bhutanese refugee living in Western Washington. But language and culture differences have made fitting in difficult.
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Bala does his homework under the watchful eye of his older brother, Dal. Learning English is one of the biggest challenges facing any refugee.
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For most of their childhood, Bala, Dal and Bal lived with their parents in a refugee camp in Nepal. The family was forced out of Bhutan amid political and cultural strife.
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Dal, Bala and Bal spent more than 15 years at one of seven UN refugee camps in Nepal. In the 1990s, more than 100,000 Bhutanese were forced to live in camps.
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With almost no hope of returning to Bhutan, the Diyali family arrived at Sea-Tac Airport with few belongings and little money, but hope for a better life.
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Bala plays soccer with other teenagers from Bhutan outside their apartment complex in Tukwila. The Diyali family was welcomed by a growing Bhutanese community in Tukwila.
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More than 900 Bhutanese refugees now call Tukwila home. Shared stories of struggle and resettlement help bond this growing community.
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Refugees try to retain social, cultural and religious traditions while adjusting to a new life in America.
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Bala shares his story at a meeting of the Seattle Refugee Youth Project. They are taking part digital storytelling project to show the challenges of resettling in the U.S.
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19-year-old Bishnu Magar is taking part in the digital storytelling project. Her family was forced from Bhutan after 16 years in a refugee camp. She hopes to become an artist.
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Bala works with Allison Myers from the Center for Digital Storytelling. The CDS and other groups hope the project will promote successful refugee integration to the U.S.
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