RSC South Asia

Cultural Orientation Program Profile

Date Established: The CO program was established in early 2008, and is operated by the International Organization for Migration (IOM).

Refugees: The refugees receiving CO training from IOM Nepal are ethnic Nepalis from the country of Bhutan.  They have been living in refugee camps in Eastern Nepal since 1991. Three of the original 7 camps have recently closed as a result of resettlement.
Training Sites: CO training takes place at two sites: at a location near the three Beldangi camps and another near Sanischare camp.
Staff: The staff is composed of a CO Coordinator from Canada with experience in resettlement and numerous CO trainers, all Nepali nationals who have generally travelled or lived in the U.S.
Course Particulars: A normal course lasts 25 hours, delivered over 5 days with 5 hour sessions each day.  When there is a high volume of departures the course may be reduced to 3 days (15 hours) in length.  A final two hours of orientation, focusing particularly on travel issues, are presented while refugees are at the IOM Transit Center in Kathmandu shortly before their departure.
Ideal class size varies between 20 and 25 students. Class participants are almost equally divided into men and women.
The vast majority of participants reside in the camps but there are small numbers who travel from nearby towns and, on a rare occasion, from Kathmandu.  
Refugees above the age of 15 are invited to attend. The program does serve a large number of elderly refugees, as well as those who are non-literate or persons with speech and hearing impairments.
Course content is based on the Welcome to the United States guidebook, with topics adapted to the interests and needs of the Bhutanese refugees. Topics of particular concern include the ability to secure employment, the freedom to continue practicing their religion and its rituals, and opportunities for higher education.
Refugee have a chance for introduction to some basic appliances and Western toilets at the training site. Currently there is a refrigerator and a microwave at the site and western toilets.
All sessions are carried out in Nepali. The training methodology used is experiential and very interactive, encouraging refugee participation and engagement in the learning process.