Welcome to the first "Walker Spotlight" feature, where we will be telling the stories of the people and communities that call Walker Center home, and who make us who we are. We hope these stories inspire you, as well as illuminate the need for places like Walker Center which foster and empower such amazing people to make a difference. Enjoy!
Anju Lamichhane has lived in Barton House, our interfaith community, for just over a year. She immigrated to the U.S. alone three and a half years ago from Nepal to pursue higher education. She is now working on her second Master’s degree, an M.A. in Social Work with a Global Practice concentration, at Boston College. Anju found Walker Center through a friend from church who knew she was looking for community. Since coming to Barton House, she has never felt more comfortable living in the states. “The community and the people here have helped me have a good time in America and not feel like I’m an outsider all the time,” she said.
Barton House was the first true community Anju was able to find since coming to America. Before living in Boston, she studied in another Master’s program in Texas. She described her housing experience there as very isolating, where students lived in separate apartments and rarely broke away from their studies to come together. “If you live in an apartment, who cares what you are doing in the next apartment?” she said. “Here, this is not an apartment, this is home. People care for each other.”
Anju came she finally found the support she longed for in Barton House. She now has housemates who will check in on her, and she can talk with them when she’s going through a hard time in school. The events and workshops, she said, have taught her about “loving yourself, taking care of yourself, and how to contribute to society." Having this emotionally and mentally-supportive environment allows her focus more on her studies without the added pressure of adjusting to a new place.
If you live in an apartment, who cares what you are doing in the next apartment?...Here, this is not an apartment, this is home. People care for each other.
Living with people of other faiths and backgrounds has also helped Anju feel more a part of U.S. culture. In Nepal, a primarily Hindu and Buddhist country, Anju knew very few people who identified with a Western religion. In fact, before living in Barton House, she had never heard of Judaism before. Now, she has Jewish and Muslim friends for the first time, and she feels comfortable enough to ask questions and learn about their religion. Having roommates from the South, the Midwest, and the Northeast, she has a chance to learn about different American subcultures. She has also learned about LGBT terminology for the first time. “The biggest thing I’m happy about is that I’m not just living with other international students,” she said. “Here, now that I’m living with Americans themselves, I don’t have fear of approaching Americans anymore.” All these things, she said, will make her a better social worker when she goes back to Nepal.
Anju shared that for most international students, moving to the U.S. is a tough transition. There are so many things they have to learn, including how to open a bank account, find housing, find roommates, and pay the rent. All these things affect their semester and how well they are able to focus. Oftentimes, international students struggle, Anju said, but because they have no community, no one knows about that struggle. Anju is grateful for the community she has found in Barton House. “I’m so happy that I can focus more on my studies and now worry about how to adjust in the United States anymore,” she said. “I’ve dreamed of studying social work since I was in 11th grade. Barton House has helped me with my dream."
--by Laura Keating, Communications Assistant and Walker Resident, BU STH M.Div '21