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Barrett student to premiere documentary on Bhutanese refugees


March 27, 2009

The year’s most anticipated student film will get a big screen debut next month.

Carly Campo’s “Nationless” will be screened at 11 a.m. on Friday, April 10 at the Walter Cronkite School of Journalism and Mass Communication, room 256.

The Arizona State University senior and Barrett Honors College student documented the trials and tribulations of Khagendra and Ganga Baral, who are refugees from Bhutan. The half-hour film visually illustrates the resettlement process from a refugee’s point of view.

When “Nationless” was announced last semester it made international news, including several wire services in Bhutan.

“My goal for this film was to reach the general public to spark interest about refugee issues,” Campo says. “Many individuals, unfortunately, have misinformed and negative perceptions of refugees and I want the opportunity to bring a humanized look into their lives as they adapt to a new culture.”

The 22-year-old journalism major spent several months chronicling the Barals as they faced several cultural adjustments here in Phoenix. They include: language barrier, housing, employment, transportation, education, health, diet, money management, rights and responsibilities, and travel.

“No amount of research could prepare me for the opportunity to witness the Bhutanese culture first-hand,” Campo says. “These are a lively people and getting to know them and being a part of their lives was the most rewarding part of the process.”

Bhutan is a landlocked nation in South Asia, located at the eastern end of the Himalaya Mountains and is bordered to the south, east and west by India and to the north by Tibet.

Joanne Morales, director of refugee programs for Catholic Charities Community Services, said the Bhutanese government established new eligibility requirements for Bhutanese citizenship in the 1980s that disenfranchised many ethnic Nepalis, stripping them of their civil rights. Since then, all ethnic Nepalis from southern Bhutan have been living in seven different camps in eastern Nepal since they were expelled from their homes more than 16 years ago. Of the more than 100,000 refugees in Nepali camps, the United States will consider resettlement for at least 60,000 of them.

“These refugees have literally been physically forced out of Bhutan and have nowhere to go,” says Morales, who connected Campo with the Barals through their program. “I am hopeful this documentary will help the community understand why we bring refugees to the United States and how the community can help support them.”

Campo’s interest in refugee issues stems from her experience volunteering for Community Outreach and Advocates for Refugees two years ago. Campo says that first-hand experience made a lasting impression on her.

“Refugees are normal people who unfortunately had to leave their country for whatever reasons, whether that was for political or religious persecution,” Campo said. “They come to the United States to make a better life for themselves and they shouldn’t be condemned for that.”

“Nationless” will also air several times in April on ASUtv, which reaches almost 700,000 households in the Valley including Maricopa County and parts of Pinal and Casa Grande.

For more information about Barrett, The Honors College, visit http://honors.asu.edu.