Rup Timsina is a bridge between New American Families and Concord Schools

When the COVID-19 pandemic hit New Hampshire in March 2020, Rup Timsina quickly realized that the transition to distance learning would not be smooth for many new American students and their families.

Timsina, the district’s bicultural liaison – also known as the family literacy facilitator – knew that a combination of quarantine isolation, language barriers, and lack of access to technical support meant that many students failed to connect. with their teachers and access their online courses.

Timsina and Concord High social worker Anna-Marie DiPasquale rallied together, creating a makeshift desk in the trunk of DiPasquale’s car with a laptop, wireless internet access point, bags of school supplies and snacks. They drove to the homes and apartment complexes where students lived and took families out, where they helped them access online courses, fill out paperwork, and solve technology problems.

“I used to go knocking on the door, sometimes knocking on the windows because on a lot of apartment doors the doorbell didn’t work,” Timsina said. “Call someone – even if it wasn’t the right house – ‘Can you go knock on someone’s door? »Take the family or students out and show them how to connect to schools.

When they realized that many students were having trouble waking up in time to attend their online classes, Timsina and DiPasquale got a doorbell and rang it loudly outside the students’ houses every morning to get them out of the room. their bed.

“In the name of help, we have disturbed so many people,” Timsina recalls, laughing.

DiPasquale, who named Timsina as his hometown hero, said his dedication to the families of Concord was clear during these difficult days at the start of the pandemic.

“Everyone went remotely except Rup,” DiPasquale said. “When everyone was fleeing the pandemic, Rup was running towards it.”

In her bicultural liaison role, Timsina is responsible for educating new American parents and students about the New Hampshire school system, making them feel welcome in schools, and providing support for things like enrollment. , filling in forms and communicating with teachers.

“Most of our parents have never seen school and never had the chance to go to school. They don’t know the importance sometimes, ”Timsina said. “It’s not easy for them to communicate directly with the school. It is not easy for them to fill out the forms or register. So there is a need for someone to educate with all of these things.

Much of Timsina’s motivation for helping students access their education comes from her own experiences. Timsina grew up in a remote village in Bhutan, where he had to walk for up to three hours through the forest to school each morning, and three hours home at the end of the day. He was the only child in his village to attend school because for most families agricultural work was a higher priority than education.

“I tell my stories to the children here: what is education and why do we need education? Said Timsina. “I went through difficulties in acquiring my education, and because of this I am in this position at the moment, I am able to help others.

As an adult, Timsina became a teacher in Bhutan and continued to work even after he and his family had to flee the country due to ethnic cleansing and were transferred to a refugee camp in Nepal. For nearly two decades, Timsina lived in the camp, helping to establish a school for the approximately 40,000 children who lived there. He recruited and trained teachers, designed an elementary math curriculum, and served as a liaison between the school and organizations like the United Nations Refugee Agency.

Timsina was relocated to Concord in 2008 where he still lives with his family. He started working for the Concord School District in 2012 through Lutheran Social Services (now Ascentria Care Alliance), and has been an official district employee since 2016.

Here at Concord, there is a great demand for Timsina’s attention. His working hours are not always regular, as families call on him for help at all hours of the day and night. Many families call Timsina to report the absence of a student instead of the main office. Her help is not limited to educational activities either – Timsina has intervened in families’ homes in the middle of the night in case of illness and even to defuse conflicts of domestic violence.

“He manages to find joy in everything. He exudes goodness and he exudes peace, ”said DiPasquale. “He really sets an example. You watch him live his life and you just think “this is a good way to experience life”. ”

Hajir Eissa, a The first grade at Concord High School said she knew Timsina before she came to school because he helped her family. She said she enjoyed working with him at school because he encouraged students from different backgrounds, who speak different languages, to work together and have fun.

“He’s just fun,” Eissa said. “Last week we played a game and we talked about how we should all be together with different cultures. He wants everyone to be included.

A big project that Timsina undertook this year was to organize a COVID-19 vaccination clinic for new American families, which was held at the Broken Ground School last spring. Timsina worked tirelessly until the February holidays, calling hundreds of refugee families in Concord through the Language Line interpretation service, telling them about the vaccination clinic and encouraging them to attend. The clinic ended up being full, with 350 participants.

As for Timsina, he will tell whoever wants to hear how much he loves his job.

“It’s the best. I dedicate my life to education,” Timsina said. “And I believe education is the only tool that gives people freedom and opportunity.”

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