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International Dentist, Political Refugee, Bhutan

May 28, 2013


I am a dentist who was granted permanent residency when I came to the United States one year ago as a political refugee fleeing, along with my family, the ethnic cleansing taking place in our native Bhutan. Now, I feel it is my calling to serve this beautiful new land that has adopted me; I want to show my appreciation to America for having the big heart to take my family in, thereby saving our lives. My special long-term goal is to work on behalf of dental missions to India, where I was trained as a dentist, and Nepal, where I taught as well as practiced dentistry from 2004 through 2010. Bhutan, in particular, is in desperate need of oral health professionals. Much of my heart is still there; perhaps if the political situation improves at some point in time, I might also have the profound privilege of serving the people of my motherland as a Professor of Dentistry. What I desire most at the moment, however, is to become a highly productive citizen of this great country, America.

 I was born and raised in Bhutan and completed my Bachelor of Dental Surgery Degree while enrolled in a Bhutanese Government Scholarship Program at Goa Dental College and Hospital in India. Soon after beginning my studies in India, however, my parents and other family members were forced to leave Bhutan due to ethnic violence. Nevertheless, despite the personal and financial hardships of this situation, I completed my dental studies ranking fourth in my class at Goa University and went on to complete a one year internship at that same institution.

 My goal in life is simple, to help people smile and live happily. I especially look forward to laboring mightily in the areas of education and preventive oral health awareness, in addition to curative and rehabilitative services. My dedication is strengthened further by the absolute misery that I have personally touched up close. After completing my bachelor’s degree and internship program in India, I joined my parents in a refugee camp in Nepal since I was not allowed to return to my home in Bhutan. Soon, however, I began working at the BP Koirala Institute of Health Sciences at the College of Dental Surgery in Nepal, initially as a dental surgeon and later as a faculty member in the Orthodontics Department.

 I began serving as a dental surgeon with the Department of Orthodontics in 1997 and was later promoted to the position of Additional Professor, primarily teaching courses in Orthodontics and oral health to medical students. Throughout this period I published several important research projects—some of which were published in international journals—which I also presented at professional conferences. I am equally proud of my service to the humble poor of Nepal, the long hours that I spent laboring to the oral health needs of rural communities in the mountains of eastern Nepal. I worked as a team leader at several community camps, supervising dental students during their internships at various district hospitals of the region.

 By the time that my family was accepted by the US for resettlement in Massachusetts in January of 2011, I was determined to enroll in an advanced standing dental program for international dentists so that I might continue my profession in my new home. Soon after arriving in the United States, I began working as a case manager at the Massachusetts Behavioral Health Partnership Program. We assist the community in accessing social services including medical and dental health care. As a trained medical interpreter, I assist Bhutanese living throughout the US by telephone, helping them to access medical services.

 I feel strongly that my seven years of experience as a clinician and a faculty member with a specialized MDS degree will help me to excel in your distinguished program. I have a special passion for Orthodontics and look forward to developing a life-long specialization in this area. My personal experience living with my family in a refugee camp has inspired me with humility and tranquility that will serve me well as a dentist. Practicing and teaching Orthodontics in Nepal has cultivated in me a profound passion to provide access to dental care to the most poor and underprivileged people of the planet’s many developing societies. I hope to have the honor of devoting a large part of my professional future to the development of dental missions with free checkups and education programs for the prevention as well as the treatment of oral disease—especially for those who cannot afford to pay for such services. I thank you for considering my application.

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