Nepalese family reunited in Vail
Vail, CO Colorado
VAIL , Colorado – For five years, Vail, Colorado resident Nima Sherpa was separated from his family by an ocean and a continent. Two weeks ago, his wife and daughter finally joined him in the Vail Valley.
The family – Nima Sherpa, his wife, Digu, and their 9-year-old daughter, Jangmu – are gathered in their living room, barely able to believe they’re reunited for good.
“I used to be dreaming all the time, that maybe my wife was here,” said Nima Sherpa, 30. “We are happy because we are together now. It’s happiness everywhere.”
Nima Sherpa, who had worked as a martial arts instructor in Nepal, came to the United States in 2003 in search of work and opportunity.
Once in Vail, he took some language courses and tried to bring his family over. However, for someone who barely spoke English, the immigration application process was difficult and arduous, he said.
Each round of paper work took several months to complete and submit, the family was placed on a waiting list, and the process dragged on. Meanwhile, Nima Sherpa worked different jobs in Vail, finally landing at the Sonnenalp, where he currently works as a bellman.
Last November, Sherpa gained his American citizenship, and his family’s case went through the immigration system quickly.
“I have never been as excited as that day,” Sherpa said of becoming a citizen. “I thought, ‘Now I can get my family here. Now I have the power to bring them here.'”
As excited as the family was to start their new life together in America, the change isn’t without difficulties. The Sherpas are the first in their family to move to the United States, and they had to leave most of their close-knit family behind.
More than 30 family members saw the family off from Kathmandu, Nepal – the whole trip to Vail took 40 hours, with a layover in Hong Kong and a meeting with the immigration authorities in Los Angeles.
The changes for the family are extreme – they’ve traded their three-bedroom concrete flat in Kathmandu for a small apartment in Vail, and the temples of Nepal for the grand hotels of Vail Village.
“Everything is new to them,” Nima Sherpa said. “I explained to them before that America is a big city, but they were shocked. They are excited and lost.”
Since leaving Nepal, the family has had many firsts – Digu Sherpa and Jangmu flew in a plane for the first time, had their first look at the ocean and watched kayaking for the first time at the Teva Mountain Games.
“Everybody talks so fast, and the buildings are so big,” said Digu Sherpa, 29. “And the market is very big.”
“They were very shocked at Wal-Mart,” said Nima Sherpa, laughing. “In Nepal we have open markets on the road. A friend of mine asked if I’d taken them to Target yet. I said, ‘No way! Not yet!'”
Right now, the family is still settling in, enjoying their time together, and wondering, “What will be next?”
Digu Sherpa plans to start taking English language classes and working at the Sonnenalp, and Jangmu started classes at Red Sandstone Elementary before school let out for the summer.
The fourth grader said she’s enjoyed American school so far, but told her father she didn’t want to forget how to speak Nepalese or Sherpa. Nima Sherpa also hopes to introduce his wife and daughter to winter sports this coming season. Digu’s eyes widen at the thought – it sounds scary, she said.
Jangmu, however, said she’s excited to get on the mountain and ski.
The family has focused so much on reuniting for the past few years, that they’ve given little thought to the future. Nima Sherpa paused to consider.
“I haven’t really thought about it,” he said. “Maybe I’d like to have a business, teaching martial arts. I would love to do that.”
Staff Writer Melanie Wong can be reached at 970-748-2928 or email@example.com.
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