• Dancing to Umoja: The Black Beanz connect Akron to East African culture

    By Jala Forest “My name is Yoshua,” he said eagerly. He used his fingers to count as he proceeded to introduce me to his seven friends: “Chomba, Kamana, Martin, Samweli, Mmunga, Malanga, and Justly.”  He called the rest of the bunch from their hotel pool to the table to personally introduce themselves.  All of the […]

  • The Himalayan Arts, Language and Cultural Academy puts the fun in fundraiser

    By Brianna Phillips The Himalayan Arts, Language and Culture Academy officially opened in 2016. Its founder, Puspa Gajmer, a refugee from Bhutan, has been in the United States for roughly 13 years. Due to the Bhutan government targeting Lhotshampas, Nepali-speaking Hindus, they were forced out of their homes and country. Many were either homeless or […]

  • The greatest climb: from Nepal to Akron 

    By Nathalia Teixeira Sagarmatha means Mount Everest in Nepali. Mez Baniya, a refugee from Nepal and the owner of Sagarmatha Grocery and Clothing Store, gave his store this name so it would grow as large as the tallest mountain on Earth.  His passion while selling food from different cultures and Nepali dresses makes the store […]

  • “Royal Palace” origins and the story of entrepreneurs who opened doors for their community

    By Mason Jones Within North Hill, there are several grocery stores and restaurants owned and operated by immigrants and refugees, such as the Royal Palace located on East Tallmadge Avenue in Akron. Before it was the Royal Palace, it was called the Italian Center, until the building was bought out by Nepali immigrants Janga Baraily […]

  • ‘Why do you think we are here today?’ Navigating a new life in Akron, Ohio 

    By Reegan Saunders Rain pours behind stained glass windows past their prime. I sit in a church basement. The lighting is dim, and the room is plain but clean. There are a few round tables and a small screen with a projector.  The room is quiet until people begin to file in. Many of them […]

  • Building communities across cultures

    By Anthony Elder Cindy Mathias, member of Grace Church and volunteer for the International Welcome Center, noticed two newcomers –– both a bit nervous, even hesitant –– before a Sunday service in 2018. Those unfamiliar faces belonged to Congolese refugees, Jean and Joseph, both new to the United States, struggling to various degrees to communicate. […]

  • ‘We teach people how to North Hill’: The making and continual re-making of Akron’s international district

    By Sean Blevins A light drizzle began to fall and steam was starting to rise through the numerous cracks in the unlevel sidewalks, but business went on as usual in Akron’s North Hill neighborhood.  The people roaming the narrow streets of Akron’s “international district” on the afternoon of March 9 cracked open their umbrellas and […]

  • From jeweler to restaurant owner to head of arts and culture: The Deepak Gajmer story

    By Jimmy Oswald Children scream joyfully, their voices filling the large room, an open area with a multi-colored padded floor and a small stage along the back wall inside the Himalayan Arts Language & Cultural Academy.  “It’s the last day before spring break,” Deepak Gajmer, the head of arts and culture at the academy, explains. […]

  • Nepali refugees share their culture in Akron through food

    Restaurants like Nepali Kitchen help add unique flavors to North Hill By Andrew Kuder Akron’s North Hill area is nicknamed “Akron’s International District.” It features restaurants, grocery stores and more businesses from Afghan, Nepali, Karen, Bhutanese, and Vietnamese refugees, among many other groups. A majority of these places are run by refugees, and they offer […]