Parks for New Portlanders (PNP) is a program with the goal of providing recreation opportunities for immigrant and refugee communities. PNP works with community partners and city leaders to design culturally relevant programs and make sure services and spaces are welcoming and accessible for all.
Portland Parks & Recreation celebrates World Refugee Day
Portland Parks & Recreation is proud to welcome newcomers to Oregon from around the world. With one in five Portlanders being foreign-born, addressing the needs of this new and diverse population is crucial as they transition to Portland’s community. Refugees and other immigrants come to Portland seeking a better life. When they connect with their new city, we all benefit. We are proud to support our Parks for New Portlanders program and invite you to click for more information.
Parks for New Portlanders brings together ten Community Youth Ambassadors who are local leaders, community experts, and speak 15 different languages other than English.
Community Youth Ambassadors advocate, organize, and engage youth and families who are new to the Portland community and assist Portland Parks & Recreation in identifying barriers and challenges related to parks services for new Portlanders. Ambassadors collaborate with partner organizations to improve programs and services within the city and beyond, while also learning valuable skills which they can practice throughout their lives.
Som Nath Subedi, Engagement Coordinator
About a quarter-century ago, Som Nath Subedi was one of around a 100,000 victims of The Kingdom of Bhutan’s “One Nation, One People” policy, which expelled his family from their homeland. They lived almost two decades in a Nepal refugee camp, a life without hope and without a meaningful future. Som never got enough food or clean clothes, books to read or bikes to ride. Despite international urging, his ethnic minority community was not repatriated to Bhutan, or returned their normal life.
Som did his best to catch up with his American-born peers. He slept less, investing those hours instead into earlier integration. He showed his worth and asked for space, tried new things, learned about Portland’s vigorous mainstream and the city’s energetic ethnic minority communities other cultures, and built partnerships that added to the diversity of our great state.Since shortly after his US arrival, Som has worked as a refugee case manager. He resettled new refugee families from Asia, Africa, the Middle East, and Eastern Europe into neighborhoods, schools, and social service networks for their self-sufficiency and integration into Portland’s communities.In 2010, Som founded then facilitated a strategy and practice of utilizing soccer as a hook to bring foreign-born families and the City of Portland together, through an annual Portland World Cup Soccer program and other culturally-specific recreational, educational, and occupational, opportunities. Last year alone, the program engaged kids from 30 ethnic communities from 30 countries, who’s families speak 30 languages. Som’s local and national efforts on behalf of his Bhutanese communities, have provided replicable models of successful integration. For example, Som developed partnerships with local government to deliver annual cultural and civic integration workshop series for Portland’s newcomer families. Another example: Som developed a local Bhutanese election commission drawn from 17 international models, in order to establish a voting process for Bhutanese mutual assistance association leadership. As result over 500 Bhutanese Oregonians (roughly 92% of their eligible electorate) practiced local democracy. It was a first for Bhutanese ever, anywhere. This immigrant integration model is in national circulation among resettlement agencies, as an effort to empower newcomer communities struggling with the wounds of war and civil strife. Finally and in many ways most importantly, Som constantly presents a positive narrative of committed New Americans in print and broadcast media.
Country of Origin: Eritrea
School: Grant High School
Future Career: Social Worker
Country of Origin: Ukraine/Russia
School: David Douglas
Languages: Russian, English
Future Career: Nurse, Interpreter
Country of Origin: Senegal
School: Benson Polytechnic High School
Languages: Soninke, Wolof, French
Future Career: Political Science
Brian Flores Garcia
Country of Origin: Mexico
College: Portland State University
Future Career: Community Development with a focus on politics
Country of Origin: My parents are from Bhutan and I was born in Nepal
School: Parkrose High School
Languages: Nepali and Hindi
Future Career: Nurse
Country of Origin: Iraq
School: Wilson High School
Future Career: Nurse
Country of Origin: Kenya
School: Madison High School
Languages: Somali and My My
Future Career: Legislator or Lawyer
Country of Origin: Vietnam
School: David Douglas High
Future Career: Accountant
Naw Bi Tha
Country of Origin: Myanmar/Burma
School: Reynolds High School
Future Career: Business Management
Country of Origin: Iraq
Languages: Arabic and Turkish
Future Career: Doctor