The history of the Nepali community in the Chicago and the Midwest area started with the arrival of Nepali immigrants in the early 1960s. The Association of Nepalese in Midwest America (ANMA) was founded in Chicago in 1982 and eventually incorporated in Ohio in 1989. ANMA is a regional organization coordinating local, regional and national level activities and events. With the growth in immigrant and student population in the Chicago area and to address their needs, the Chicagoland Nepali Pariwar (CNP) was founded in 2003 and incorporated in 2004 as an affiliate of ANMA. Thereafter, with the arrival of more Nepali immigrants and the need to meet the divergent requirements of the growing community, the Chicagoland Nepali Friendship Society (CNFS) was founded in 2007. Both these local organizations address the needs of the Nepali community and friends in Chicago by performing social, cultural and charitable events. In 2006, the Nepali community also established a monthly program at the Shree RadheShyam Temple located in Bloomingdale to conduct religious, spiritual, and educational programs. Along with this effort, a monthly newsletter, Chicago Chautari Times, was started at the People of Nepal website in 2009. Community members involved in the engineering, scientific and technical area and associated with ASNEngr have also started various activities to support the community. The first generation members of the Nepali community have founded, led or guided these organizations, groups and efforts by involving the younger generation members of the community in various activities.
A steady increase of the Nepali community in mid-west America and Chicago, in particular, over the last 15 years has resulted in an area population now roughly estimated at over 7,000. An even bigger and more vibrant Nepali group is expected in the future. The Nepali diaspora is adaptable to any social environment and tend to live widely scattered depending on their jobs, interest and affordability. They live harmoniously with people from other cultural backgrounds. However, it is difficult for families to meet each other frequently and create an environment for their children to learn social etiquette, values and the Nepali language. There are many second generation and now even a few third generation immigrants who generally are not very clear about their Nepali social and cultural heritage and the reasons for and values of various functions and customs. Sometimes they are unsure what the actual Nepali cultural practices and values are. Most of them do not know how to read and write Nepali, and many do not know how to speak it but do understand spoken Nepali due to their day-to-day interaction with their parents.
The lack of a common place or a venue accessible to all the community members is a primary cause in preventing regular gatherings and the continuation of such a situation is also creating frayed friendships, weakened family and social bonds, a gradual loss of the unique Nepali heritage and, most seriously, a loss of Nepali self identity. To address these issues, some pro-active actions are necessary, otherwise it could make the situation worse. Therefore, now is the critical time for everyone in the Nepali community to redouble our efforts to address these problems. In a cosmopolitan society like Chicago where immigrants from various nationalities have come, labored, persevered, thrived, and contributed to build a community of diverse cultures, we should be able to do so also by continuing our various community based activities.
Although there will be challenges ahead, by establishing a common facility it will greatly enhance our efforts and viability to retain our unique cultural heritage and identity. At previous community events and during ANMA's conventions in Chicago, establishing a common facility has been discussed and various options looked into. This current effort is a continuation of the common goal with special concentration to make it a reality. A half-century has passed since the arrival of the early Nepali immigrants and we believe it is time that the community establishes a landmark identity and lays the founding stones for the well being of the future generations to come.
- Preserve, promote and share our Nepali heritage and culture, making the Nepali Community a tangible presence in the American mainstream in Chicago and the Midwest
- Establish and run a self-sustaining facility to serve the social, cultural and civic needs of the Nepali community and friends
- Establish a cohesive and united Nepali Community identity
- Provide a support structure to Nepali immigrants in settling down, adjusting and maintaining their lifestyles
- Showcase the beauty, the values and the virtues of Nepal and Nepali culture
- Preserve Nepali heritage by continuing to maintain our traditions and educating the younger generation to understand and foster their roots
- Provide opportunities for social, cultural, and educational exchanges with people from the mainstream American society
- Establish a common venue for community activities
- Sponsor the celebration of Nepali festivals and religious ceremonies
- Host interactive programs with prominent visitors from Nepal
- Institute educational, health care and financial aid programs for refugees, recent immigrants and those in need
- Provide educational and instructional programs for the younger generations in Nepali language and culture
- Organize social, cultural and educational interactions with other communities
To fulfill the purpose and keeping in view the immediate, the short-term, and the long-term needs, our plan is as follows:
- Partner with other community based organizations and groups in an on-going basis to work towards achieving our Objectives.
Hold fundraising events and programs to raise funds to acquire an interim venue to fulfill our Goals. Use this venue to generate revenue for operating and capital funds.
When sufficient capital has been raised, build a self-sustaining facility that is accessible to all Nepali community members and friends to serve our common social, cultural and civic needs and accomplish our Mission. The tentative plan is to acquire an adequate site that can amply accommodate the following:
- An auditorium that holds up to 500 attendees for meetings, celebrations, and performances
- A hall to conduct spiritual discourses and religious activities
- A library for educational materials and to display Nepali cultural artifacts
- Other rooms for: office space, meetings, educational activities, and souvenirs
- A kitchen and a dining area
- Parking area to accommodate event participants
Nepali American Center is in the early stages of development. All of our current activities are conducted by volunteers working in teams.
We appreciate the time and effort of our hard working volunteers who have contributed via the various teams below.
Bishnu Phuyal, Lomash Shrestha, Mukesh Singh, Rajeev Dahal, Sharda Thapa
Ankur Sharma, Bishnu Phuyal, Rajendra Khatiwada, Ramakant Kharel, Jyoti Adhikari
Bigyan Shrestha , Birendra Suwal Singh, Prabhakant Das
Ankur Sharma, Birendra Suwal Singh, Bishnu Phuyal, Deepak Khanal, Rajeev Dahal, Shiva Hari Achet, Sharda Thapa, Suman Wosti
Angela Khanal, Ankur Sharma, Binod Dhungel, Birendra Suwal Singh, Bishnu Phuyal, Deepak Khanal, Lomash Shrestha, Piush Dahal, Roshita Mukhia, Sagar Regmi, Smarika Paudel Sitaula
In addition, we would also like to thank all Nepalis and friends of Nepal for their support, valuable suggestions and feedback during this initial stage of our development.