Understanding Economic Self-Sufficiency among Nepali Bhutanese Refugees in Pittsburgh

2019-02-28T19:43:54Z (GMT) by Kayla Lee
Pittsburgh is home to one of the largest Nepali Bhutanese refugee community in the United States as a result of secondary migration (refugees who were resettled in other parts of the United States and voluntarily moved to Pittsburgh.) Due to this community's growing presence, the local media often highlights the successful refugee stories that come from this community. These individuals are often portrayed as self-sufficient. Their success is based on a model of self-sufficiency that stems from the U.S. refugee resettlement program's definition of self-sufficiency, which is focused on achieving an end goal. From the perspective of Nepali Bhutanese refugees, there is no end goal of self-sufficiency. Architects of immigration and refugee policy have evaluated the effectiveness of the self-sufficiency model by measuring refugee household incomes. This measurement reflects the self-sufficiency model's emphasis on quick employment and less dependence on welfare. In addition, these measurements generalize refugee groups into a single category, which does not allow for the consideration of differences among refugee groups. This provides only a limited view of refugee self-sufficiency. Through ethnographic methods (Narrative Research and Grounded Theory,) this research study aims to understand self-sufficiency among Nepali Bhutanese refugees in Pittsburgh. It begins by stepping away from the notion of "achieving" self-sufficiency and evaluating the concept beyond financial or material rewards. This study aims to create a more comprehensive understanding of self-sufficiency through the narratives of ten Nepali Bhutanese refugees.