Puspa Gajmer founds school, music festival to share South Asian culture in Akron's North Hill

Puspa Gajmer wears many hats.

© Karen Schiely, Akron Beacon Journal Puspa Gajmer, a former refugee, owns the Himalayan Arts Language & Cultural Academy and organizes the annual North Hill Music Festival.

With family, he is a husband and father. At North Hill’s Himalayan Arts Language & Cultural Academy, he bears the title of founder, CEO and instructor. When he walks into Child Guidance & Family Solutions, he is a caseworker and confidant.

Unbeknownst to many, one of his first hats was painted with the word “refugee.”

Gajmer, 37, of Cuyahoga Falls, was born in Chirang, Bhutan, a small, mountainous country in south-central Asia. One night in 1989, 5-year-old Gajmer and his family fled to Nepal, joining more than 100,000 other Nepalese individuals who were being ethnically cleansed from the region.  

For the next 22 years, Gajmer lived in a Nepalese refugee camp. During this time, he learned British English, attended Tribhuvan University and became involved with Youth Forum Center, an organization through which he taught music to Bhutanese youths. Between 2002 and 2011, Gajmer also taught at the Oasis Academy, a school within the refugee camp, and two private schools outside the camp, Grace Academy and Himalayan English Boarding School. It was at this time that he decided to expand his horizons.

More: ‘Don’t give up’: Akron man, 24, on fast track to success as YouTube channel nears 2 million views

More: Change Agent: Joshua Hahn rises from addiction to ministry

More: Change Agent arts educator Dan Coffield: ‘He’s able to take in ideas and help kids manifest them into reality’

“I heard some rumors that people, if they are interested, can go to America,” Gajmer said. “I want[ed] to go somewhere else… like America and then do something.”

Brave New World

Gajmer’s plane touched down east of Chicago in Quad City International Airport on Sept. 26, 2011. Soon after arriving in the U.S., he began studying music at Black Hawk College, a community college in Moline, Illinois. Gajmer also completed interpreter training at the college and started working as a medical interpreter for multiple hospitals and courts in Moline.

His first priority after coming to America was learning how to survive. The culture, people, weather and language Gajmer found himself surrounded by were completely new.

That winter, Gajmer waited at an outdoor bus stop for 15 to 30 minutes multiple times a week to get to school. He said it was quite a change for someone who had never seen snow.

“I had never had any experience of the snow in Nepal, but coming here and waiting for the bus for half an hour in the snow was really hard,” he said. After being there for six months, Gajmer acquired his driver’s license and put those snow-filled mornings behind him.

Impact in Akron

Gajmer moved to the Akron area in 2013 in hopes of contributing to its diverse communities. He continued his education at the University of Akron while working as an interpreter at hospitals in the Akron area.

© Puspa Gajmer Puspa Gajmer sits with students from his Himalayan Arts Language & Cultural Academy located in Akron’s North Hill neighborhood.

Falling into old habits, Gajmer began offering private music lessons in his home to 10 to 15 students. Later on, his friends suggested he open a school. This encouragement from friends and the Nepalese community led him to open the Himalayan Arts Language & Cultural Academy in 2016, the same year he graduated from the University of Akron. The school is located at 739 N. Main St. in Akron’s North Hill neighborhood.

After acquiring the building, Gajmer hired instructors to give lessons on music and dance to children in the community. Those who attend the school learn music theory, piano, guitar, dance and Eastern instruments such as the tabla and harmonium. Reading and writing classes also are available, as is legal consultation by the school’s lawyers.

“Most of our immigrants, they don’t have any knowledge about tickets, traffic laws, domestic violence, all these things,” Gajmer said.

In 2018, Gajmer won and matched a three-year grant from the Knight Foundation to create the first annual North Hill Music Festival the following year. The event features food, dances and music from the various cultures that coexist within North Hill. The point of the festival, Gajmer said, is to bridge the gaps between these cultures.

This year’s event takes place 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. Saturday at the Exchange House, located at 760 Elma St.

More: North Hill Music Festival returns to Akron. Here are the details

“This festival will bring together everyone, whether we are from Nepal or whether we are from India, wherever we are from,” he said.

Present and future endeavors

Today, Gajmer lives in Cuyahoga Falls with his wife and two children, Anku, 4, and Amu, 9, and works as a caseworker at Child Guidance & Family Solutions. Gajmer doesn’t have much free time with his family, career and the academy, but every now and then he visits members of the Nepalese community within Illinois.

Gajmer intends to continue the North Hill Music Festival for as long as possible and has even grander plans for the Himalayan Arts Language & Cultural Academy.

“My main vision is, in five years of time or 10 years, I want to put this academy somewhere in the top level,” he explained.

Gajmer started his life several continents away during a time of heavy ethnic cleansing and, after moving to a new country and immersing himself in its culture, has made it his goal to share the culture of Akron’s minorities with one another — an aspiration that his students and community members would surely consider to be top level.

Contact Beacon Journal reporter Tawney Beans at tbeans@gannett.com and on Twitter @TawneyBeans.

Change Agents

The Beacon Journal is highlighting emerging leaders from newer generations who are making a difference in Summit County neighborhoods, businesses, schools and organizations. Do you know a Change Agent we should feature? Tell us about that person at bjnews@thebeaconjournal.com. Please include “Change Agents” in the subject line and be sure to share contact information for the individual. 

This article originally appeared on Akron Beacon Journal: Puspa Gajmer founds school, music festival to share South Asian culture in Akron’s North Hill

Internet Explorer Channel Network
News Related

OTHER NEWS

2,000 migrants continue walk through southern Mexico

HUEHUETAN, Mexico (AP) — A group of about 2,000 mainly Central American migrants continued their mass exodus from the southern Mexico city of Tapachula Sunday, reaching a town about 16 ... Read more »

Biden still hasn't nominated an OMB director. Here's why that matters.

Nine months after taking office, President Joe Biden still doesn’t have a permanent director of a critical agency in his administration. © Provided by CNN The last Cabinet-level position that ... Read more »

Elton John called Ed Sheeran a 'f-----g big mouth' after the singer leaked the news about a secret Christmas duet

© Jamie McCarthy/Getty Images for EJAF Elton John and Ed Sheeran attend the 22nd Annual Elton John AIDS Foundation Academy Awards Viewing Party in 2014. Jamie McCarthy/Getty Images for EJAF ... Read more »

Ed Sheeran Tests Positive for COVID-19, Will Continue Performances Virtually

Ed Sheeran Ed Sheeran has tested positive for COVID-19. In a statement shared to his social media Sunday, the musician revealed the diagnosis and, as a result, said he will ... Read more »

Off Echo Streetwear x LA Enthusiast – 2021 Capsule Tee Collection

[vc_row][vc_column][vcex_image align=”center” width=”70%” img_size=”full” overlay_style=”” image_id=”4553″ link=”|||” css=”.vc_custom_1619882644118{margin-top: 20px !important;margin-bottom: 20px !important;}”][vcex_heading text=”Off Echo Streetwear And LA Enthusiast Team Up For Their 2021 Flagship Capsule Tee Collection – Proceeds Will ... Read more »

Alfiya Glow Celebrates "New Earth" Release With Yoga Dance Experience

[vc_row][vc_column][vcex_image align=”center” width=”80%” overlay_style=”” image_id=”4573″ link=”|||” css=”.vc_custom_1620325619157{margin-top: 20px !important;margin-bottom: 20px !important;}”][vcex_heading text=”#E-8_QWxmaXlhJTIwR2xvdyUyMEFuZCUyMFRoZSUyMExpYmVyOFhwZXJpZW5jZSUyMENvbWUlMjBUb2dldGhlciUyMFRvJTIwQ2VsZWJyYXRlJTIwVGhlJTIwUmVsZWFzZSUyME9mJTIwJTIyTmV3JTIwRWFydGglMjIlMjBXaXRoJTIwQSUyMERlZXAlMjBIb3VzZSUyMFlvZ2ElMjBEYW5jZSUyMEV4cGVyaWVuY2U=” tag=”h1″ text_align=”center” font_weight=”bold” color=”#000000″][vc_column_text] Tickets Available Here [/vc_column_text][vc_column_text css=”.vc_custom_1620328448555{margin-top: 20px !important;margin-bottom: 20px !important;}” color=”#000000″] The Liber8Xperience and Alfiya Glow will ... Read more »

Inside ‘The Phantom of the Opera' Reopening on Broadway

© Jeremy Daniel The chandelier inside the Majestic Theatre, Broadway’s most beloved ghost light, rose again on Friday evening as “The Phantom of the Opera,” the longest running show in ... Read more »

Biden hosts Manchin in Delaware at critical juncture

President Joe Biden hosted Sen. Joe Manchin in Delaware on Sunday as the two sought to finalize an agreement on Biden’s domestic agenda, according to multiple people familiar with the ... Read more »

Why are children representing themselves in immigration court?

As a retired immigration judge, I have watched with concern reports of the surge of unaccompanied immigrant children crossing the border into the United States. There are many reasons for ... Read more »

Jason Sudeikis returned to the set of 'Saturday Night Live' as guest host

“Saturday Night Live” guest host Jason Sudeikis reprised a few of his sketch roles from his days as a cast member. Read more »

Youri Tielemans scores 25-yard screamer as Brentford pay for profligacy

A beaming Youri Tielemans was the first across to the 1,700 away fans celebrating in the blue corner. The Belgian had just orchestrated a third consecutive victory in what might ... Read more »

Mercedes forced to change floors to avoid a ‘bloodbath'

Toto Wolff has revealed Mercedes had to make adjustments to their W12 floors to avoid a “bloodbath” at the United States GP. © PA Images Lewis Hamilton climbs into his ... Read more »

Monique is grateful for her boys and Simon has a nail salon at home

ShowbytesShort updates from the stars on social media: we love it. In the Showbytes section, the show editors scour the web for the craziest, most beautiful and striking posts by ... Read more »

Archaeologists in Iraq find 2,700-year-old wine press

Archaeologists in Iraq revealed Sunday their discovery of a large-scale wine factory from the rule of the Assyrian kings 2,700 years ago, along with stunning monumental rock-carved royal reliefs. © – ... Read more »

Kyrsten Sinema Whacked by Democratic Congressman, Compared to Trump

California Democratic Congressman Ro Khanna ripped into Senator Kyrsten Sinema on Sunday morning, asking why his fellow Democrat in Congress keeps blocking the party’s major infrastructure bill—and slithering away from ... Read more »

Meghan McCain to Trump: 'Thanks for the publicity'

© The Hill Meghan McCain to Trump: ‘Thanks for the publicity’ Meghan McCain is responding to sharp criticism from former President Trump, who late last week reignited the feud with ... Read more »

Roy Blunt: Trump should look ahead, not back

Sen. Roy Blunt said on Sunday that former President Donald Trump should dwell on the future rather than the past. © Manuel Balce Ceneta/AP Photo Sen. Roy Blunt (R-Mo.) speaks ... Read more »

Report: Dolphins not only team interested in Deshaun Watson trade

The Miami Dolphins have been viewed for months as the most likely suitor for Deshaun Watson if the quarterback is traded. They are not, however, the only team that has ... Read more »

50 years ago, Detroit Lions' Chuck Hughes died of heart attack during game

A somber anniversary in NFL history on Oct. 24. In 1971, the Detroit Lions’ Chuck Hughes had a heart attack and died. It remains the only death of a player ... Read more »

Is Salah Africa's greatest Premier League player ever?

Despite standing at only 5ft 9in, Salah has never been one to require protection or coddling. Instead, over the course of his four years at Liverpool, the Egypt international has ... Read more »

Liverpool inflict historic first-half humiliation on Man Utd

Mohamed Salah scored twice as Liverpool ran riot against Manchester United to lead 4-0 by half-time at Old Trafford on Sunday before the Egyptian added a fifth early in the ... Read more »

Source: NFL still hasn't decided whether Deshaun Watson will be placed on paid leave if traded

© Provided by NBC Sports The NFL has the ability to place quarterback Deshaun Watson on paid leave given his current legal issues, if the NFL decides to do so. ... Read more »

Two children killed as drag race car hits spectators in Texas

Two children were killed and eight other spectators were taken to hospital when the car veered off the track at an airport runway in Texas. Read more »

Is It OK to Take Ibuprofen on an Empty Stomach? (Like When You Have No Time to Eat and Your Head Is Pounding)

© Grace Cary/getty images Whether you have a nagging headache, horrible period cramps or your legs are sore from yesterday’s run, you reach for an ibuprofen. You grab a big ... Read more »

Covid update: How Puerto Rico became the most vaccinated place in America

A member of a scientific coalition advising Puerto Rico’s government on the coronavirus pandemic recently joked about the island’s high Covid-19 vaccination rate, attributing it to the proliferation of drug ... Read more »

Biden rolls out Delaware welcome mat for senators critical in spending talks

President Biden, hoping to resolve disagreements over his sweeping budget plans, was hosting two senators key to the negotiations at his Delaware home on Sunday. Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer ... Read more »

Obama mocked GOP New Jersey gubernatorial nominee Jack Ciattarelli for attending a 'Stop the Steal' rally

© AP Photo/Stefan Jeremiah Former President Barack Obama and Gov. Phil Murphy, right, host an early vote rally at Weequahic Park in Newark, N.J., on October 23, 2021. AP Photo/Stefan ... Read more »

Myanmar junta says UN rights report on country 'incitement to violence'

Myanmar’s junta on Sunday labelled the United Nation’s latest rights report on the conflict-wracked nation an “incitement to violence” and accused the body of interfering in its internal affairs. © ... Read more »

Chelsea vs Norwich City: 3 things we learned as Blues wreck Canaries

© Provided by NBC Sports First-place Chelsea and last-place Norwich City followed the script Saturday as the striker-hampered Blues demolished the Canaries 7-0 at Stamford Bridge. It wasn’t close, 5-0 ... Read more »

Wolfsburg sack 'surprised' Van Bommel

Former Netherlands midfielder Mark van Bommel admitted he was shocked to be sacked by Wolfsburg on Sunday after less than five months as head coach following four straight Bundesliga defeats. ... Read more »

That Thing You Do!: Tom Hanks' directorial debut is still an effervescent pop music romp

That Thing You Do! is a charming, nostalgic look at a fictitious pop group in the 1960s, as four fresh-faced lads from small town USA unexpectedly score a hit song, ... Read more »

Jason Sudeikis Brought Big Ted Lasso Energy to His SNL Monologue

Jason Sudeikis hosted Saturday Night Live this weekend and it was, overall, a joy of an episode. Sudeikis brought back a number of his old characters from his time as ... Read more »

Ed Sheeran Tests Positive for COVID-19, Will Continue Performing From Home

LOS ANGELES (Variety.com) – Popular British musician Ed Sheeran has tested positive for COVID-19, but will continue performing from home. “Hey guys. Quick note to tell you that I’ve sadly ... Read more »

Rare fall nor'easter, 'miserable' weather to mark final week of October

Many in the northeastern United States have rarely had to bring out rain coats and jackets due to the lack of chilly temperatures and relatively dry conditions so far this ... Read more »

Travis Tritt performs national anthem at NLCS Game 6 after bashing coronavirus vaccine mandates

Country music star Travis Tritt sang the national anthem before Game 6 of the National League Championship Series on Saturday amid his very public declaration not to perform at venues ... Read more »

Ed Sheeran has corona: ‘I'm sorry if I disappoint people'

“Hey, guys. A short note to tell you that unfortunately I have tested positive for the coronavirus,” writes the superstar, who says he follows government rules. Due to the virus, ... Read more »

These 23 Elegant Desk Lamps Will Light Up Your Workspace

© Courtesy of Urban Outfitters As we approach the end of the year, it’s time to take stock of our checklists and see what we still have left to accomplish ... Read more »

Shoppers Say This "Perfect" Oversized Denim Jacket Has "So Much Personality"

Everyone has that one fashion piece that they can’t stop buying. For some, it’s accessories or vintage items, and for others, it’s denim. If you fall into the latter category, ... Read more »

The Week Ahead In Biotech (Oct. 24-30): Eyenovia, ANI Pharma, Clearside Medical FDA Decisions, Merck, Bristol-Myers Squibb Earnings, IPOs And More

Biotech stocks posted gains for the second week running, supported by multiple catalysts that included a good start to the big pharma reporting season and broader market strength. © Provided ... Read more »

Woman's inexplicable weight gain leads to shocking cancer discovery

Amanda Shoultz, 29, struggled with mysterious weight gain that was later diagnosed as a massive tumor, according to a recent report.  Shoultz first noticed she was gaining weight early in ... Read more »
On free-english-test.com you will find lots of free English exam practice materials to help you improve your English skills: grammar, listening, reading, writing, ielts, toeic