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From Refugee to College Student: The Five Greatest Lessons We Learned at SHIM


It is hard to imagine where each of us would be today if it weren’t for SHIM.

Would one of us be in love with software development and another preparing for nursing school? SHIM opened windows of possibility that we didn’t even know existed – helping us to discover a part of ourselves that we might’ve otherwise missed.

Throughout our experiences at SHIM, we have each met some of our best friends and learned some of our most significant life lessons. The ride has not been an easy one, but thanks to SHIM, it has been one with great learning opportunities and even greater company. As we each prepare for a life outside of high school and SHIM, at college and beyond, we want to share the five greatest lessons we gained from our experience with SHIM’s Youth Mentoring Program

  • We are more alike than we are different – By working with a variety of people at SHIM, we learned that despite having different backgrounds, people often face the same problems. Just because we may be from Nepal, doesn’t mean that we are the only people struggling with the transition from middle school to high school, or high school to college – SHIM taught us that we are more connected then we often realize.
  • Your passions are valid and worth exploring – Throughout our time at SHIM, we all discovered great joys and skills. Growing up, we each had interests that remained consistent, but it was the people at SHIM who taught us that these subjects or ideas were actually special and worth pursuing later in life. We learned that if we are dedicated and work hard, happiness and employment can be synonymous. Because of SHIM, we have the confidence to now explore our passions in a college setting.
  • One good mentor can change everything – The guidance we received at SHIM has shaped each of us into the people we are today, as well as who we want to become tomorrow. By working with mentors who have dedicated so much of their time to seeing us succeed, we have had the chance to grow not only in the classroom, but as individuals. Most of us have been involved with SHIM initiatives (like the After School Program and Summer Camp) since we were around seven years old, and now that we are about to begin life as adults, it is hard to imagine life without the influence of our mentors.
  • Stepping out of your comfort zone is the key to real discovery – With a childhood based in the refugee experience, growing up has been unique and sometimes complicated. Everyday tasks that some take for granted can be challenging, but SHIM taught us how to bravely walk into difficult situations. We all learned the value of becoming comfortable with the uncomfortable. In this process, we discovered that by being courageous and pushing ourselves to try new things, we can learn more about ourselves and the world around us.
  • Every day there’s a reason to be grateful – The generosity and selflessness of the SHIM staff and donors has taught us the importance of gratitude. Between the volunteers who toiled with us in after school help and the donations that help make SHIM’s work possible, we have learned how to appreciate the many efforts that go into the Youth Mentoring Program (here’s to you, Miss Susie), After School Program and Summer Camp. Our gratitude for all that SHIM has done for us has inspired us to pay the kindnesses forward on a daily basis – and even look to becoming mentors ourselves.

Thanks to the critical support we received at SHIM, we are beginning the next chapter of life with our heads held high – confident and ready to take on whatever life throws at us. The paths that lie ahead of us aren’t crystal clear, but regardless of the obstacles that may come our way, SHIM taught us that we each have the power to create something incredible and build a life we are proud to call our own.

Contributors to this piece include Yuba Neupane and Bandhana Phuyal


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