Ganesh Tamang learned how to read and write using a slate board, with no pencils or paper, in a refugee camp in Nepal. He never dreamed he would move to the United States, let alone go to college and graduate with a degree in nursing.
CCBC 2020 graduate
Tamang was born on a beautiful farm in Bhutan, but when he was just four years old his family was forced out and fled to Nepal, where they lived for almost 19 years. Life in the refugee camp was miserable. Their house, made of bamboo and plastic, was too hot in the summer and unbearably cold in the winter.
“Just to have enough food and a good sleep was a prayer for us,” said Tamang. “Access to running water, electricity, TV, computers and the internet was just a sweet dream.”
After living that life for nearly two decades, Tamang’s family was offered a life-changing opportunity to resettle in the United States in December 2011. But life in the “land of opportunity” was not as easy as they thought, due primarily to language and cultural barriers. His parents had never been to school in their lives. Tamang and his older brother had no choice other than to find jobs to support their family.
He ended up working more than 60 hours a week in a restaurant as a dishwasher, but he knew that deep in his heart he had a passion for learning. In fall 2014, he registered for ESOL classes at CCBC Dundalk and never stopped learning. But the struggle was real.
“It wasn't easy to learn everything in English, to learn to use computers and to integrate into the new culture,” said Tamang. “There were times where I felt lonely, helpless and scared, but I never thought of giving up.”
As Tamang prepared for graduation, he reflected upon how CCBC has transformed his life, and he offered up the following advice: Be persistent, think big and don’t become a perfectionist.
“You do not need to be perfect in everything,” he said. “Make plans and take action. Start today to work on your next goals, and you will be amazed by what is yet to happen tomorrow.”