STAR: Students Together Assisting Refugees (By guest author, Adam Sella)

The following is reposted with permission from the author and local Cincinnati student, Adam Sella. Adam was part of The National Security Language Initiative for Youth (NSLI-Y) program, sponsored by the U.S. Department of State. It provides merit-based scholarships for eligible high school students and recent high school graduates to learn less commonly taught languages in summer and academic-year overseas immersion programs. Adam’s article was originally posted on the NSLI-Y website.

Heartfelt Tidbits is proud to have responded to Adam, by matching him with refugee speakers for the events of the STAR (Students Together Assisting Refugees) Club and supporting the group’s initiatives in various ways like the assembly hosted by STAR. “Meeting with Sheryl connected me to so many organizations and ideas that I wouldn’t have found on my own,” says Adam.

My experience as a NSLI-Y scholar in Rabat, Morocco, last summer was a turning point in my life. Apart from learning Arabic and enjoying the Moroccan culture, I met amazing people, from fellow American scholars to local Moroccans. One thing I did not anticipate was that I would become so passionate about helping refugees in my community.

Continue reading “STAR: Students Together Assisting Refugees (By guest author, Adam Sella)”

How Did I Get Here …

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If you’re a subscriber to our blog you’ve probably been wondering why hasn’t there been a posting? It’s simple. This post is from me, Sheryl Rajbhandari, the founder and executive director of Heartfelt Tidbits.

For 19 days writing this blog post has been on the top of my “to do” list yet it never had the black line marked through it. I would be lying if I said I just didn’t know what to say. If you know me, you know that I never have a shortage of stories to share. I have struggled a bit with where to begin but I solved that while brushing my teeth this morning.

So how did I found and become an executive director of Heartfelt Tidbits? I believe it was always meant to be. As a young girl I would travel downtown and was fascinated with the homeless. I wanted to understand who were they, where they lived and share their brown bag lunches. When I left for college my fascination of people that were different than me grew. I lived in an international dorm. I was the girl that played the 30-question game with everyone I met. Not to be nosy, but because I was amazed at how my dorm mates left their safety net and traveled alone on an airplane to a foreign country to go to school. My mind wondered what would entice someone to do this. Four years later while meeting with my advisor to make sure I had what I needed to graduate with my computer science degree, she told me that while she loved having me as a student she just couldn’t picture me sitting at a computer and programming for a living. If I saw her today I would let her know she was correct. Don’t get me wrong – I loved my corporate life in computer science. I was successful, I climbed the ladder and rose to the role I had dreamt of – but deep down I was always searching for more.

Continue reading “How Did I Get Here …”

Passage: an exhibit about home, place and migration

Passage by Do Ho Suh

Do Ho Suh

Passage is an exhibit by Korean-American artist Do Ho Suh currently at the Contemporary Art Center in Cincinnati. Every house Suh has lived in throughout his life serves as inspiration for remarkable meditations on the legacy of home, place and migration. These themes and their resonance with the refugee and immigrant experience compelled artist Calcagno “Cal” Cullen, founder of Wave Pool: A Contemporary Art Fulfillment Center, to partner with Heartfelt Tidbits in bringing the Passage experience to a group of refugees, immigrants, and new Americans in Cincinnati.  Continue reading “Passage: an exhibit about home, place and migration”

Evenings Learning English

On Tuesday and Wednesday nights, a group of moms and dads – Fabiola, Karina, Marta, Olga, Selma, Bijoux, and Samba – gather to learn English in the Academy of World Languages (AWL) school library in Cincinnati. They are parents of AWL students, who are learning English themselves through their school curriculum. The parents at the English class on Tuesday and Wednesday nights come from diverse countries around the globe: Mexico, Guatemala, Mauritania, The Democratic Republic of the Congo, and Mali.

The parents’ journeys to Cincinnati are as diverse as their home countries, and many of them were very difficult journeys. One parent had to ride in the trunk of a car to come here. We wanted to understand what they like (and perhaps what they do not like) about Cincinnati as compared to their home countries and why they wanted to learn English.

What do you like about Cincinnati?

“I grew up in a village. Before coming to Cincinnati, I lived 4 years in New York in the Bronx. When I lived there, I worked at a car wash 12 hours a day, 6 days a week, for 3 dollars an hour. I did this for 7 months and almost returned to my home country. Continue reading “Evenings Learning English”

And Now, I am American

Click here to listen to this story in Nepali

Earlier this month, Ganga Ram Sapkota became an American citizen at 82 years old.


Ganga was born July 30, 1933 in the District of Chirang, Goseling Damphu, Bhutan. In Bhutan, Ganga was a farmer and grew rice, maize, wheat, oranges, and peaches. Ganga’s life as a farmer was abruptly stopped when he, his wife Jashoda, and their seven children were forced to leave their country in 1992 because of the government’s persecution and ethnic cleansing of southern Bhutanese groups. Continue reading “And Now, I am American”

Welcome & About this Blog

“Stories are the self’s medium of being”
– Arthur Miller, The Wounded Storyteller

Namaste! Welcome!

Welcome to Heartfelt Tidbit’s blog dedicated to sharing the stories of refugees and immigrants in Cincinnati. Cincinnati is home to 34,000 refugees who have resettled in the United States since 2008. That number keeps growing, as each week secondary migrants (relocating refugees) move here from other cities! Continue reading “Welcome & About this Blog”