Satya Dhital was born in a refugee camp in Nepal, the son of political refugees from Bhutan. It wasn’t so bad for him there, he said, as the United Nations helped provide rice and lentils and they were safe from the torture, rape and plunder his parents had escaped. Plus the family had a small home, which they built of bamboo.
“The home was pretty stable,” said the 18-year-old Ferris High School senior. “I mean, you could lean on the walls, but you probably shouldn’t.”
An English missionary helped the family move into Katmandu, where Dhital was able to attend a regular school. As the refugee numbers grew in Nepal, many pursued resettlement options. The International Organization of Migration helped the Dhital family, including Satya and his younger sister Trishna, and World Relief aided them in coming to Spokane in 2008. The children, who spoke some English, attended school and their father began work at a laboratory.
School in America was a happy surprise.
“The teachers here are nice to you,” he said. “They will stay after school to help you. In Nepal, they are not so caring. They are strict and would beat me. We would line up in the morning and be inspected. Was our hair proper, our shoes polished, our clothes clean? There was a barber at the school to cut our hair right then if it wasn’t just so.”
Dhital blossomed in school in Spokane. He has played soccer, happily using an actual soccer ball. In Nepal, the refugee kids made soccer balls out of socks. He has played trumpet and clarinet in band – and he was able to go far in his pursuit of knowledge in mathematics, a subject he has loved since he was a small boy.
“There is so much to learn in mathematics,” he said. “I realize you can’t stop learning with mathematics.”
Currently taking AP calculus, which he doesn’t find very difficult, he was named the Spokane Math Scholar from Ferris High School and is in contention for an Act Six Scholarship. The Act Six Leadership and Scholarship Initiative is a full-tuition, full-need scholarship for emerging community leaders who want to use their college education to make a difference on campus and in their communities at home. He hopes to attend Washington State University, Western Washington University or Gonzaga University; he has been accepted at all three.
He is on the Ferris Action Team, a group that helps students for whom English is not their first language to feel included in the school community. And he considers very significant his experience last summer when he was a counselor at a Muscular Dystrophy Association camp and worked directly with an 11-year-old boy.
“It made me realize how thankful I am for the life I have and that I should not take my life or anything in it for granted,” he said.
His math teacher Jeff Crawford has provided the inspiration for what he wants to do in life.
“After I experienced his teaching, after seeing him teach, I began to think a lot about being a teacher myself,” Dhital said. “He has inspired me to teach, to teach mathematics. That’s what I want to do.”