(News) NPT Visits Our Bhutanese Next Door Neighbors

*** Fourth Installment in NPT’s Original Documentary Series Explores Nashville’s Emerging Bhutanese population; Premieres Thursday, November 19 at 8:00 p.m. ***

Each year, new refugees with different backgrounds flee a variety of struggles to arrive in cities such as Nashville. They face an utterly new environment and a demanding sacrifice of their history, culture, friends and family. Every refugee community resettled to Nashville brings a changing combination of assets and challenges, but they are unified by a common aspiration. They all seek a better life, a permanent solution and a new home.

The Bhutanese are Nashville’s newest refugee community, and Nashville Public Television offers viewers a chance to see the city through this new community’s eyes with NEXT DOOR NEIGHBORS: BHUTANESE premiering on Thursday, November 19, 2009 at 8:00 p.m. on NPT-Channel 8. The documentary is the fourth installment in NPT’s four-part NEXT DOOR NEIGHBORS series, a recipient of a 2009 My Source Community Impact for Engagement Award from the Corporation for Public Broadcasting. Previous installments focused on the Kurdish, Somali and Hispanic populations.

“The ideals of refugee resettlement are sometimes at odds with reality,” says series writer, director and producer Will Pedigo. “The isolation and new environment can be harsher than imagined and the resettlement process can deliver less than expected. For new arrivals, every day is a race against time. After eight months the federal funding ends and the health insurance disappears. In Nashville and across the US, newly arrived refugees often go unnoticed, until they emerge as contributing residents and eventually Americans.”

In January 2007, the U.S. Department of State announced it would host the resettlement of 60,000 Bhutanese over the next several years to cities across the U.S. The first reached Nashville in July 2008, but most arrived in the middle of 2009. After their first year in Nashville, almost all of the Bhutanese lived in one southeast Nashville apartment complex.

When refugees first arrive in the U.S. they come with less than fifty pounds of baggage and an airplane ticket they have to repay within three years. Acceptance into the country is secured by the U.S. Department of State, but the local resettlement process is provided through volunteer agencies like. In Nashville, that includes Catholic Charities and World Relief. Placing new refugees in a tight geographical location like a single apartment complex has shown to speed up the resettlement process.
NEXT DOOR NEIGHBORS: BHUTANESE provides a picture of initial refugee resettlement, and examines the birth of a community. Viewers will learn about the resettlement process through the stories and challenges the Bhutanese face.

In addition to the NEXT DOOR NEIGHBORS series, Pedigo’s other notable writing, directing and producing credits include the NPT original productions Beautiful Tennessee: Our Scenic Waterways; Living On: Tennesseans Remembering the Holocaust and Tennessee Town Squares. Next Door Neighbors: Little Kurdistan won the 2008 MidSouth Regional Emmy Award for best Historical or Cultural Program Special.

The NEXT DOOR NEIGHBORS series includes in-depth web content at https://ndn.wnpt.org, public forums and panel discussions after each of the four programs.

NEXT DOOR NEIGHBORS: BHUTANESE is made possible through a grant from the Corporation for Public Broadcasting’s My Source initiative and is supported by the Nissan Foundation and The HCA Foundation on behalf of HCA and the TriStar Family of Hospitals. A partnership with the Vanderbilt University Center for Nashville Studies provided valuable research and community outreach.

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